(Nov. 14) Fall apple holdings are similar to last year, but higher than the five-year average, and grower-shippers continue to report strong demand and movement.

About 100 million bushels of fresh-market apples were on hand Nov. 1, about the same as last year at the same time, but 3% above the average for the past five years, according to the first report of the 2007-08 season from the Vienna, Va.-based U.S. Apple Association.

Fresh controlled-atmosphere holdings as of Nov. 1 were about 80 million bushels, up 4% from a year ago and 6% above the five-year-average, the association reported.

Volume estimates have gone up as the season has progressed, said Loren Queen, director of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash.

That’s been a good thing, given the strong demand.

“At first it looked like it was light, now it looks like it’s getting slightly larger as the weeks go by, which is good,” he said. “We need all the fruit we can get. It’s been an incredible year for apples.”

Movement is ahead of last year for the season on a slightly larger crop, said Tracy King, director of marketing for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Dovex Fruit Co.

Regionally, fresh holdings in the Northwest were up 2% from last year. Northeast holdings were up 4%. Midwest holdings were 18% lower, Southeast holdings 29% lower and Southwest holdings 23% lower.

By variety, red delicious holdings were down 10% from a year ago. Granny smiths were 4% lower and empires 2% lower.

Gala holdings were up 28%, golden delicious 13%, fujis 3% and mcintosh 1%.