I had the chance to chat on March 8 with Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash.

4:18 p.m. Karst: Thanks for taking time for a chat. What are you working on this week, Loren?

4:20 p.m. Queen: Preparing for the FPFC NorCal and CPMA shows. I'm also shooting video of our newest orchard going in this week.

4:21 p.m. Karst: If an orchard is going in, that must mean growers are feeling pretty good about the future. Of course, that's a generalization, but what is your sense of what kind of year it has been for the Washington apple industry?

4:25 p.m. Queen: It has been a great year for the Washington apple industry. We have a bigger crop than expected with great quality, couple this with escalating world-wide demand and you have a bunch of cautiously optimistic apple growers.

4:27 p.m. Karst: The latest estimate for Washington apples has just been released. What is the latest fresh packout number and what will it mean for buyers the rest of the season?

4:35 p.m. Queen: The number is now at 107.9 million 40lb boxes. This latest estimate reflects increases in primarily Gala and Red Delicious which is good news for everyone due to demand on those two "staple" varieties. It will help keep everyone supplied through the summer and may help slow (price) escalation at retail.

4:37 p.m. Karst: Interesting. Loren, when did you first become connected to the Washington apple industry?

4:44 p.m. Queen: I came into the industry in the mid-90 with Fresh Cut magazine. I came to the apple industry with "Snappy Apple" fresh cut apples from TPG in Othello, Wash., in 2004 and came to Superfresh Growers in 2006.

4:45 p.m. Karst: I appreciated your recent trip to The Packer's offices. How do you define what you do for Superfresh? What do you enjoy the most about your responsibilities?

4:56 p.m. Queen: Two tough questions Tom. Like so many I wear lots of different hats. My primary job is communicating with the trade and consumers via advertising, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, etc. I also run our tradeshow exhibits, coordinate promotions/materials, shoot video and even drive the occasional forklift when no one is looking!

4:56 p.m. Karst: Ha....Multi-talented, more than me.

5:02 p.m. Queen: You're just more focused than me. When it comes to what I enjoy most I would say tradeshows. It’s a test of will to make it all come together and shows give me a chance to get together with friends old and new. I'm on the PMA Exhibitor Advisory Committee and just got back from a meeting in Atlanta. I think we are going to see some good changes to an already great show in future years.

5:05 p.m. Karst: Good stuff... One more question. What do you like to do in your time away from the job?

5:15 p.m. Queen: I stay busy with my wife and 5 kids doing they typical soccer/wrestling thing. I enjoy hiking, backpacking (especially with my kids), running, cycling, swimming and running triathlons, anything adventurous. My next Triathlon will be a half Ironman at the Chelan Man races at Lake Chelan up north of Wenatchee.

5:16 p.m. Karst: A very full agenda. Thanks for taking time, Loren. Appreciate it.

5:16 p.m. Queen: Thank you Tom