“The late start was actually an advantage this year, as it reduced the risk of frost,” he said. “Mild temperatures continued for the rest of the spring, and summer weather has been ideal aside from two very short triple-digit periods. The fruit is sizing nicely and coloring well.”
Henggeler, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary in business this year, grows several different varieties of apples, led by Gala and Fuji.
“We grow and pack 90 percent of our own fruit, and we also pack for a handful of growers,” he said, adding that the client base is largely retail and wholesale accounts.
Aside from Gala and Fuji, Henggeler grows Red and Golden Delicious and Pink Lady. Henggeler said they also grow Honeycrisp, with much of that production for the local market.
Sean Rowley of Mountainland Apples, a grower in Caldwell, ID, said he expects a good crop this year based on early observations. He said fruit is sizing nicely and coloring well.
“We continue to cover some of our apple blocks with shade net for sunburn protection,” he said. “We have also been moving toward doing more work in our high-density apple blocks with platforms for pruning, thinning and harvesting.”
Rowley said labor is among the various challenges growers face each year, and this year is no different.
“We can’t get domestic labor to come work for us harvesting our fruit,” he said. “We rely solely on the H2A program and are subject to the challenges that come with that program, including increased wages, trouble getting through the consulates, increased travel costs and also increased living expenses.”
Henggeler agreed, saying the labor situation has been critical the last few of years. “It dictates how much you plant and when fruit is harvested.”