Spotty weather problems aside, the Eastern apple crop has shaped up well this year, growers, shippers and marketing agents say.
“We’ve had some spots throughout the state that were frosted, some low spots, but overall, we’ve had excellent rain in June and excellent heat in July, so the crop is progressing nicely,” said Jim Allen, president of the Fishers-based New York Apple Association.
New York produced about 32.8 million bushels last year, which was more than its five-year average of 29.2 million, Allen said. Even that larger-than-normal crop basically had been sold out, Allen said.
“Anything that’s left on fresh is left because they planned that marketing program to have product for 12 months of the year,” Allen said.
As of July 21, cartons of size 64 extra-fancy red delicious apples in tray packs from Washington were priced at $19.50, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The same size and packs of Washington golden delicious apples were $29. Fujis were $35 and granny smiths $31-32.
Prices were virtually unchanged from the same date in 2009.
What sort of market emerges depends on other major apple-producing states, such as Washington and Michigan, growers said.
“Michigan had a monster crop, a perfect storm last year,” said John Teeple, owner of Wolcott, N.Y.-based Teeple Farms.
“But we’ve got a good-quality crop coming in this year, and I think it’s a very manageable crop. The heat we had is good for apples and will lead to some great sizing. Last year, we were cold and wet for much of the growing season and we couldn’t get the size.”
Pat Ferrara, salesman with Milton, N.Y.-based Hudson River Fruit Distributors, said the outlook was good.
“So far, here in the valley, we’re seeing a good crop,” he said.
Matthew D’Arrigo, vice president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of New York Inc., New York, which uses several hundred growers and features more than 300 products, also expressed optimism.
“Things are going fine. It’s better in general than last year,” he said.
Things were looking up in Pennsylvania, too, said John Rice, president of Gardners, Pa.-based Rice Fruit Co.
“I think things are shaping up pretty well,” he said.
“We have a good crop — not quite as big as last year. With the exception that we had some dry, hot weather the last three weeks or so and had a little relief, it’s been OK. We’re still a little on the dry side, but all in all, we can’t complain. It’s been a good season so far.”
Rice, too, said there had been some scattered frost, but it didn’t affect the crop.
“By and large, we got through that. It didn’t get very cold,” he said.
Growers across the region reported being anywhere between one and three weeks ahead of schedule.
Rice echoed that assessment.
“We’re about two to three weeks earlier than normal,” he said.
“We’re expecting we’ll probably harvest 10 days earlier than normal.”
In Virginia, Henry Chiles, owner of Charlottesville-based Crown Orchard Fruit Co., said the outlook was similarly optimistic.
“The crop looks good,” he said.
“We’d like to have more room. We’ve been dry. There really haven’t been any other problems at the present.”
Chiles said his crop is about a week early.
Staff writer Chloe’ Robbins contributed to this article.