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Michigan apple industry sets apple shipment record

The Michigan apple industry set new shipment records two weeks in a row in October, shipping 414,702 boxes of apples the week of Oct. 12.

The news was released just after the USDA-MDA Market News Service returned from furlough as a result of the federal government shutdown.

"Our growers, packers and shippers are working seven days a week, day and night to move this bumper apple crop," Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, based in Lansing, said in a press release. "These numbers illustrate not only that we have a large crop, but also that there is great retail and consumer demand for Michigan-grown apples."

According to the USDA-MDA Market News Service, the organization that tracks shipment numbers, the Michigan apple industry shipped 411,973 boxes of apples the week of Oct. 5. That record was broken the following week with 414,702 boxes. In October 2011, the industry set a shipment record of 378,933 the second week in October.

"October is always an extremely busy time of year for our growers, packers and shippers," Smith said in the press release. "I think what we are seeing this year is the start of a new normal, with increasing demand for Michigan apples and more trees in the ground, as well as new technology that has been incorporated into production and distribution of apples. We are planning to see larger numbers over the next few years."

With 9.2 million total apple trees in commercial production on 36,500 acres, Michigan is the third-largest producer of apples in the United States, and distributes apples to 26 states and 18 countries. As one of the larger fruit crops in the state, apples have an estimated annual impact of $700 million to $900 million on Michigan's economy.