Michigan’s apple growers expect to harvest about 30 million bushels of apples this year, a huge increase from 2012, when a late freeze destroyed the majority of the crop, according to the official crop estimate announced Aug. 23 at the U.S. Apple Association’s annual meeting in Chicago.

“Our growers, packers and shippers are already moving Michigan apples into the marketplace and are thrilled with the estimates for this year’s crop,” Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said in a news release. “There’s a lot of buzz around the estimate here in Chicago and in our state. Growers are looking forward to a successful harvest season.”

Because of the huge shortage of apples, growers, shippers and packers spent much of the 2012-13 season making investments back into the industry, Smith said.

Improvements to packing facilities, equipment and educational efforts are some of the ways in which Michigan’s industry looked to the future, she said, after the devastating losses.

“Our apple growers always maintained a positive attitude throughout the difficult crop year,” she said. “They made positive investments in the industry and looked ahead to how they could make the industry even better going forward.”

If the 30 million bushel estimate holds true, it would be one of the largest crops in the state’s history, Smith said.

In 2011, Michigan produced about 26 million bushels of apples. Michigan is the third-largest producer of apples in the U.S., behind Washington and New York.

“Many factors have contributed to this large crop,” Smith said.

“Great weather this past spring and summer, including cool nights, plenty of rain as well as a good amount of sunshine certainly helped. In addition, a long dormant period allowed the trees to store energy to help create a large crop. Finally, a lot of hard work by our growers ultimately gives us a great quality crop of good-sized, flavorful Michigan apples.”

U.S. Apple’s annual estimate is the only official national crop estimate this year, since the federal sequester eliminated the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimate.

The estimate will be important for Michigan, Smith said, as apples are one of the state’s largest and most valuable fruit crops, with an estimated annual contribution of $700 million to $900 million to the state’s economy.