Hail cuts into would-be record apple crop

ApplesSome of you may have been affected by the recent hail storms that passed through central Washington. I know quite a few farmers in our area who were hit and are now trying to recoup any losses they suffered to both crops and structures. In fact, the hail damage is limiting what might have been a record apple crop this year, leaving farmers to wonder what might have been.

According to the Yakima Herald, the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association said the industry anticipates shipping 108.7 million boxes to market, which would fall short of the existing record of 109.4 million boxes set two years ago. The unknowns in the estimate involve how much of the hail-damaged fruit ultimately will be packed for sale under an available hail grade and whether labor supplies will be adequate to bring in the crop on time. Labor has been described as adequate during the cherry harvest in Central Washington.

Early-season projections that Washington could harvest a record of 120 million boxes of apples did not raise serious concerns because the state’s two largest competitors — Michigan and New York — sustained significant losses from hard frosts this spring after warm weather prompted fruit buds to advance in development. With the remaining fruit from the 2011 crop likely to be sold and shipped before 2012 harvest volumes start hitting storage warehouses, the industry is optimistic the crop can be sold profitably.