As of Wednesday, February 7, 2018
WENATCHEE – Washington’s fresh apple crop came in larger than expected, and sales of the good-quality crop are rolling along.
In August 2017, the Washington State Tree Fruit Association predicted a crop of 130.9 million 40-pound boxes, down from the 2016 crop of 132.9 million boxes.
But more fruit came off trees than expected.
As of Jan. 22, the 2017 crop is estimated at 142.3 million boxes, said Tim Kovis, association spokesman.
The record was 143.6 million boxes in 2014.
Kovis said 49.9 million boxes had been shipped by Jan. 22, with about 34.3 million boxes going to domestic sales and about 15.5 million boxes exported.
“Mexico and Canada continue to be the largest export markets for our fruit, with 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively,” Kovis said.
Gala has surpassed Red Delicious as the top-selling variety, followed by Reds and Fujis, he said.
“Quality looks good overall,” Kovis said.
Figures are for statewide harvest and sales. He said county-level figures aren’t available “since fruit grown in one county may be packed by shippers in another.”
Red Delicious remains the most numerous variety grown, with a projected 24 percent of production, the association said in August. Gala is close behind at 22.5 percent, followed by Fuji at 14 percent, Granny Smith at 13 percent, Honeycrisp at 8 percent and Cripps Pink at 5 percent.
Cosmic Crisp, the apple developed by Washington State University, has been planted by many growers but is not yet on the market. The first Cosmic Crisp apples are expected to be available to consumers in 2019, according to www.cosmiccrisp.com.
The apple, a cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp varieties, is large and juicy, sweet and tart with a firm and crisp texture. It is slow to brown when cut and maintains its texture and flavor in storage for more than a year.
According to the state Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture, apples were the top commodity in the state in 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available. They account for 70 percent of U.S. apple production.
In 2016, Washington apple production was valued at $2.4 billion, followed by milk at $1.1 billion, potatoes at $813 million, cattle at $704 million, wheat at $657 million, cherries at $503 million, hay at $479 million, hops at $382 million, grapes at $360 million and pears at $223 million.
Washington ranks first in the nation in production of apples, hops, spearmint oil, wrinkled seed peas, concord grapes, sweet cherries, pears, raspberries for processing, blueberries and aquaculture.
It’s second for production potatoes, Niagara grapes, nectarines, apricots, all grapes, asparagus, all raspberries and onions, and third for peppermint oil, lentils, dried peas and tart cherries.