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Washington apple crop expected to return to normal with exceptional fruit quality

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association estimates the state's 2023 fresh apple crop to come in just over 134 million standard 40-pound boxes of fresh apples, a 28.8 percent increase from 2022’s 104.3 million boxes. The 2022 harvest was much smaller than normal due to a very cold spring, with snow that inhibited pollination during bloom.

This year, moderate weather has helped growers deliver a healthy crop much closer (5 percent above) the previous six-year average production. This return to historic norms is also seen in growers’ reports of good size distribution and expected high quality across all varietals. The forecast also illustrates the continued trend of varietal diversification, including Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Envy and Cosmic Crisp, with these four representing more than a quarter of forecast production.

“There is a lot of excitement as we are seeing a more normal harvest and excellent fruit quality this year," said Jon DeVaney, WSTFA president. “A moderate spring and a warm early summer created near-perfect growing conditions, so our domestic and foreign customers are going to see great size, color, and overall good quality in our apples. The harvest is just getting under way now, and our growers look forward to bringing in a great harvest that will benefit consumers around the state, country, and world."

The organic apple market continues to grow, with this year's organic forecast coming in at 21 million boxes, or 15.7 percent of the total harvest. It should be noted that not all organic production is packed and marketed as organic. "Our growers have a long tradition of meeting consumer demand and they are proving it again by producing more 93 percent of the country’s organic apple output," said DeVaney.

“It’s great for the state and for consumers around that world that our growers have rebounded from a down year with a strong, healthy crop in 2023,” said Derek Sandison, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “More importantly, thanks to moderate weather the quality of apples is exceptionally high. Apples are Washington state’s calling card to every corner of the globe. This year, we are literally putting our best crop forward and that’s good for our state economy, our workforce and our growers.”

This forecast is based on a survey of WSTFA members and represents the best estimate of the total volume of apples that will eventually be packed and sold on the fresh market (excluding product sent to processors). This forecast is still subject to several months of variable weather which can affect the final harvest total.

Photo courtesy of CMI Orchards.

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