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Strong Apple Season Projected for the Valley

July 29, 2013


            Here in the apple capital, our

namesake crop will soon be underway. Apple tree harvesting should begin within the next couple weeks and run

through early November. The season is shaping up to a be a strong one, said Tim Smith, the tree fruit specialist

and educator for Chelan-Douglas County extension of Washington State University.  

            Last year the area had a

record-setting crop of 130 million boxes of apples. Smith said the number of boxes this year will probably be 10

to 20 million less than last year and there’s a simple reason for that - apple trees have a hard time

producing as many buds the the year following such a heavy crop. Smith said although it’s difficult to say

at this point, a safe projection would be well over 100 million boxes this year.

            The

apples are developing well, he said, and should be of high quality come harvest time. Galas will be the first

apples harvested, with the process beginning about ten days earlier in the Tri-Cities than in Chelan and Douglas

Counties. Smith said Galas are becoming a very important part of Washington’s apple production. The variety

Pink Lady will be the last picked, with harvest running as late as possible before the apples freeze on the

trees.

            Smith said he doesn’t

see any setbacks this season or problems filling the market with quality apples. The main concern, he said, is

having enough employees to harvest the crop. The reason for that, Smith said, is simple economics. There’s a

limited number of people willing and able to do physical labor. The fruit picking industry has to compete with

other physical labor businesses, Smith said, and sometimes they lose. The jobs are there, just not always the

labor.

            We will keep you updated as

the apple harvest gets underway in the next couple of weeks.