(Oct. 17) Michigan apple growers shipped more apples in the first week of October than during any seven-day period in the state’s history.

About 337,000 cartons were packed in the week ending Oct. 6, marking the first time Michigan ever has shipped more than 300,00 cartons in a week, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture figures. Growers shipped 83,000 cartons more than in the same period last year, and 118,00 more than in 2005.

Denise Yockey, executive director of the DeWitt-based Michigan Apple Committee, said outstanding quality, crop woes in Ohio and Missouri and a more consumer-friendly roster of apple varieties have contributed to the extraordinary demand for the state’s product.

“Our growers are happy,” she said. “They’re working multiple shifts, working Saturdays. We typically ship in the 200,000-240,000 range, and this is way above that. I think the word is out there that our fruit has a nice finish and high sugar levels.”

And despite earlier concerns, Michigan has had enough labor to pick the crop, Yockey said. She guessed that was because fewer workers are doing post-Katrina construction-related jobs in Louisiana and Mississippi, growers in freeze-ravaged Ohio and Missouri didn’t need nearly as many hands and laid-off native-born workers in Michigan are taking more and more packinghouse jobs.

On Oct. 16, the USDA reported prices of $16 for 12 3-pound film bags of red delicious from Michigan, comparable to last year at the same time.

Golden delicious and mcintosh were $16-18, up from $16. Galas were $18-20, up from $17. And jonathans and cortlands were $16-18, up from $15.