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Apple industry says 243.3 million bushels on tap for 2013

CHICAGO — U.S. apple industry leaders forecast that the 2013 U.S. apple crop will be 243.3 million bushels.

These "outlook forecast" numbers were announced Aug. 23 by three regional apple industry spokesmen, representing the culmination of the 2013 Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference, held Aug. 22-23 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, here.

Those reporting the outlook forecasts were Don Kelly, speaking on behalf of growers in the western United States; Mike Rothwell, who represented the Midwest; and Phil Glaize, who represented Eastern growers.

Kelly is the assistant manager of Washington Growers Clearing House in Wenatchee, WA. Rothwell is president and chief executive officer of Belleharvest Sales Inc. in Grand Rapids, MI. Glaize owns Glaize Apples in Winchester, VA.

The 243.3 million-bushel number was derived after regional meetings were held Aug. 22 to have growers evaluate forecast numbers offered by the U.S. Apple Association staff, based on Aug. 1 estimates. The Aug. 1 forecast presented Aug. 22 was 246.5 million. In the end, the industry lowered the forecast by 1.3 percent, or by 3.2 million bushels.

With strong crops returning in Michigan and New York, where apple crops were decimated by frost in 2012, the national crop is expected to exceed 2012 figures by 13 percent.  

The huge factor is Michigan's jump in production to 30 million bushels forecast for 2013 from 2.7 million bushels in 2012 — a 996 percent increase.

This year's crop is almost double Michigan's average of 16.2 million bushels over the last five years. Michigan has had a consistently odd production table of being up one year and down the next. The last two years have reflected that trend, but to a greater magnitude than before.

Another great increase is coming from New York state, which is expected to jump to 32 million bushels in 2013 from 17.3 million last year. New York's production this year is 9 percent above its five-year average.

The outlook forecast for the entire East is 58.3 million bushels, which is 39 percent ahead of 2012.

The Midwest outlook forecast is 35.6 million bushels, up from the five-year average of 22.1 million.

Western apple producers are forecast to grow 149.4 million bushels, which is an 11 percent decline from 2012 and a 1 percent gain over the five-year average.

The nation's largest apple-producing state, Washington, is forecast to produce 140 million bushels of apples this year -- a 10 percent decline from 2012 and 4 percent ahead of Washington's five year average of 134.8 million bushels.

The West's second-largest apple producer is California, which is forecast to grow 4.8 million bushels this season.

Oregon's outlook forecast is for 2.6 million bushels of apples, while Idaho should have 1 million bushels. Utah, Colorado and Arizona each produce fewer than 400,000 bushels.

In the East, Pennsylvania growers expect to produce 10.5 million bushels this year, down 11 percent from 2012 and down 8 percent from the five-year average.

Virginia is expects to grow 5.5 million bushels this year, which is 24 percent above the five-year average.

North Carolina is to yield 3.5 million bushels and West Virginia, 1.5 million.

Eastern states producing fewer than 1 million bushels are New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Rhode Island is the smallest-volume of Eastern commercial apple producing states, with 53,000 bushels.

After Michigan, the Midwest's three largest apple-growing states are Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois. Ohio production in 2013 is forecast to be 1.9 million bushels, with Wisconsin and Illinois expecting just over 1 million bushels.

Other Midwestern states tipping the commercial scales are Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, Tennessee and Iowa.