The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast the 2019-20 apple crop to be 253.1 million 42-pound boxes, which would make it the 9th largest crop.
It would be 4 percent larger than 2018-19’s 244.2 million boxes.
The U.S. Apple Association BB #:145473 projects it to be smaller, at 247.8 million cartons, Mark Seetin, Director, Regulatory and Industry Affairs, revealed at the group’s annual outlook conference Aug. 22-23.
By region, USDA forecasts Eastern production will be 46.1 million boxes, down from 49.7 million last year; Michigan production to be 25 million boxes, the same as last year; and Western production to be 182 million boxes, up from 169.7 million last year. Washington would lead the West with 171.4 million boxes, up from last year’s 159.5 million.
U.S. Apple projects Eastern production at 47.6 million cartons; Michigan at 25.25 million cartons; and West at 174.9 million, with 165 million coming from Washington.
Last year’s apple crop was split 67 percent fresh and 33 percent processed.
By variety, Red Delicious has officially lost its title as No.1 apple, falling below Gala in 2018-19. U.S. Apple projects the gap to widen for the 2019-20 crop, by 50 million cartons to 45.8 million. It projects Honeycrisp to rise to the No.3 apple variety, with 24.8 million cartons, followed by Granny Smith at 24.7 million.
Apple producers are becoming much more efficient, Seetin said, as yield per acre has risen to 838 boxes per acre, up from 556 boxes 16 years ago. The apple industry is using significantly fewer acres than it used to. It counted 291,000 bearing acres last crop, down from a high of 468,000 in 1995.
Seetin said one of the biggest challenges for this season’s apple crop will be to get export markets back up to previous years’ levels.
Last year, apple growers saw a drop in exports of 27 percent from the previous year due to all the trade disputes.