(July 16, 1:18 p.m.) Normal volumes of California apples should find strong markets once shipments begin in August, thanks to light import volumes, grower-shippers said.

Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif., expects to begin shipping its first California variety, galas, about Aug. 1, a typical start to the deal, said Atomic Torosian, partner.

Braeburns and granny smiths should begin about Sept. 1, fujis about Sept. 15 and Pink Ladies about Oct. 5, Torosian said.

Trinity Fruit Sales Co., Fresno, expects to begin shipping galas July 29 or July 30, about a week behind schedule, because of a chilly spring and a hot, dry start to the summer, said salesman John Hein.

Trinity expects to begin grannys the third week of August, with fujis following in September and Pink Ladys in late September or early October.

Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, Calif., expects to begin shipping galas the last week of July, only a day or two late, said Bob Maxwell, special projects manager. Grannys should follow in mid-August.

The Fresno-based California Apple Commission’s production estimate, released in late June, forecasts 3.2 million boxes this season, up from last year’s estimate of 3.1 million. Of that 3.2 million, about 1.9 million are expected to be grannys, 755,000 galas, 325,000 fujis and 150,000 Pink Ladies.

Active market predicted

This year could present unprecedented opportunities for growers and marketers of California apples, Torosian said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a window like this year, with the offshore deals small,” he said. “This could be a banner year for California apple shippers.”

Hein and Maxwell agreed that demand should be very strong this season.

“We’re excited about it — we’re coming into a real active market,” Hein said.

On July 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $30-32 for carton tray packs of gala 70s and 80s from Chile, up from $26 last year at the same time.

Sizing could be off a size because of the hot, dry weather, with galas peaking on 100s and 113s, Hein said. He reported strong color and overall good quality on early galas.

Volumes should be normal for Trinity, with about 25,000 to 30,000 cartons of galas expected, Hein said.

Torosian predicted good quality and typical volumes this year, with a similar varietal mix as in years past. Gala sizes should begin peaking on 100s and 113s, with 88s peaking as the deal progresses, he said.

Galas should peak in the 100 range, with good quality and normal volumes expected, Maxwell said.

Marketers expect strong California apple demand