Lyndonville, NY – Last year’s domestic apple crop is a tale of two seasons as weather conditions in major growing regions dictated significantly different results for orchards in the Northwest and Northeast.
The extreme heat in late summer and overall challenging weather conditions in Washington caused a significant 20% drop in volume to a 100 million case crop. This shortfall created supply challenges for retailers who typically rely heavily on fruit from the country’s largest apple growing region.
On the other side of the country, the New York apple crop reported a strong 32+ million bushel volume, with good sizing, high color and excellent flavor. Basically a rebound year from the previous harvest, the eastern region experienced near record volume with traditional varieties including Acey Mack, Empire, Fuji, Gala, Pink Lady and Red Delicious.
Brett Baker, a fourth-generation orchardist and an owner of integrated grower/ packer United Apple BB #:170382 Sales in western New York, indicated the conditions were favorable in the summer and straight through to the end of harvest.
“As far as managing the orchards, we’re constantly analyzing data and continuing to use smart technology to make sure that we are balancing what Mother Nature provides and augmenting with the right nutrients to fit the respective needs of each variety.
“The old regimen of using the same strategy across all blocks is long gone. We now operate with prescription farming practices where each variety and, in some cases each block, warrants a customized plan recognizing the age of the orchard, the respective maturity of the trees, and the anticipated market demand for sizing and volume.
“The customized growing strategies along with our investment in new storage technologies have helped us extend the season and enhance fruit quality. This enables us to determine the most opportune time to pack and store varieties to fully leverage the crop and support our retail partners with year-round promotions,” commented Baker.
He also cited United Apple the success of its network of 59 local growers with their managed club varieties: EverCrisp, Ruby Frost and SnapDragon.
“Our orchard managers have gained valuable experience in evolving these new varieties from their inaugural phase of early plantings. We are reaching our goals of increasing volume, maintaining high color and offering excellent eating quality,” stated Baker.
Baker indicated that EverCrisp is now in its fifth season with product projected to be available through May. SnapDragon is in season nine with volume until late March. Ruby Frost in its ninth season will have product into June.
“Retail partners look to us for assistance in developing merchandising and promotional plans to deliver the best flavor and increase overall appeal of these unique varieties to create additional excitement in their produce aisles,” said Baker.
With Washington’s crop being down, United Apple has reached out to its Southern hemisphere import partners to support requested volumes for slicers and processors to build consistent volumes for national programs.
“Our Southern hemisphere growers and partners are looking to partner with us in markets that we have supported for the past 15 years. After industry-wide issues with the supply chain last year, we are working with our partners to negotiate favorable pricing on fruit and freight costs, which have declined from record rates last season. Based on customer need, we can deliver imported product to both east and west coast ports,” said United Apple’s, Josh Tunstall, Vice President of Northwest Sales and Operations.
Tunstall shared the following schedule for United Apple’s import arrivals:
Gala – late March through mid-July;
Grannies – mid-April through mid-August;
Fuji – mid-May through late August;
Pink Lady – mid-May through early September.
About United Apple Sales (www.unitedapplesales.com)
United Apple Sales is a leading northeast grower, packer, shipper, and marketer of domestic apples, pears and cherries. The company has deep roots in the agricultural market starting with its initial farm in 1905. Over the past 11 decades, it has evolved into an integrated produce company that also has import and export capabilities to offer full-year supply assurance and merchandising services to retail, wholesale, and canning and juicing companies. United Apples is a member of a select group of orchardists growing new apple varieties: EverCrisp, RubyFrost and SnapDragon.
For additional information about United Apples Sales, please call 585-765-2460.