Apple crop rebounds by 78 percent

Published 7:08 pm Friday, September 9, 2011

Michigan apples will soon abound in grocery stores as the state’s top fruit crop bounces back from a disappointing 2010 season. Michigan’s 2011 apple production is forecast at 1,050 million pounds — up 78 percent from last year, according to the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), Michigan Field Office. The statistics are a little deceiving, however, said Ken Nye, horticulture and forestry specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau.
“Remember that last year we had only half a crop,” he said. “The 78 percent increase represents a nice rebound, but it’s not going to be a record. There will be plenty of Michigan apples to go around, though, and the quality is good despite the challenges growers faced.”
In 2010, a late spring frost trimmed apple buds and contributed to the poor production.
This year, weather during apple budding was warmer, although incidents of harsh weather may have caused some spotty quality problems.
“There was hail in some areas, but overall, we have a good crop that has sized up great,” Nye said. “The hot, wet weather also created increased pest pressure, but it was nothing farmers couldn’t handle. Consumers can be assured that Michigan apples are of the highest quality.”
If consumers in Michigan know that, the word is spreading. New international markets are expected to boost Michigan’s apple exports to 5 to 7 percent of the overall crop, said Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “We’re seeing brand-new markets in Russia, India and Brazil,” she said. “We already sell in 26 states, but when the crops are so variable, as they have been in the past four years or so, it makes marketing a challenge. We have to have a steady supply to keep the customers, but when yields aren’t consistent year to year, marketers have to keep reintroducing themselves to the market.”
Growers have taken steps to level off the season-to-season crop variability, Donohue said, but that creates new challenges. “Some growers have invested a lot in the last year or so on wind machines and other ways to mitigate some of those lower temperatures in the spring, like the ones that hurt us in 2010,” she said, noting that growers who have increasingly replaced older, taller trees with more efficient, shorter trees need the extra frost protection. “The cold air settles down, and that makes it more difficult to protect from freezes with the smaller trees. Right now there are Paula Reds and then Ginger Golds.”

Other fruits forecast
The 2011 Michigan grape production is forecast at 102,000 tons, up from 36,000 produced in 2010. U.S. grape production for 2011 is forecast at 7.19 million tons, down 3 percent from last year.
California grape production is 6.45 million tons, down 4 percent from 2010. Washington grape production is forecast at 275,000 tons, down 18 percent from a year earlier. New York grape forecast is 187,000 tons, up 6 percent from last year. Pennsylvania grape production is expected at 100,000, up 20 percent from 2010.
Michigan peaches are expected to produce 21,000 tons, up 50 percent from 2010.
The fresh market forecast is 13,500 tons. Processing production is forecast at 7,500 tons.
U.S. peach production is forecast at 1.13 million tons, down 2 percent. Michigan plum production is forecast at 1,650 tons, down 18 percent.
The four-state total, including Idaho, Michigan, Oregon and Washington, is forecast at 13,050 tons, up 8 percent from 2010.