Apple harvest expected soon, lighter than average

One of the nation’s largest apple-producing states is expected to see a slight dip in production this year with what one grower describes as one of the most unusual seasons in recent memory.

Michigan Apple Committee board member Chris Alpers is serving as chairman of the U.S. Apple Association.

“It’s been a real, real tough go with parts of the state experiencing long droughts and parts of the state like where I am with extreme wetness.

The Lake Leelanau grower tells Brownfield he’s getting ready for harvest soon which is running about a week ahead of normal.  Michigan is expected to produce more than 18 million bushels this season.  While below average, he says, “I’m really enthusiastic about the quality that’s hanging on the trees right now, certainly we have a long way to go before we make it through harvest.”

Alpers is thankful his apple orchards in northern Michigan were spared from sporadic spring freezes which impacted other regions.  Unfortunately, his tart cherries weren’t so lucky.

“Volume was off significantly, I think we probably had 20 percent of our ten-year average,” he says.

For his fellow apple growers in other regions, Alpers says weather conditions seem to be just as variable as he is hearing from friends in Washington state suffering from extreme drought while Pennsylvania growers seem to be extremely wet.

USDA is forecasting the nation’s apple crop to increase nearly three percent while the U.S. Apple Association says there will likely be almost a six percent decline.

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