In early August, the first estimate for the Washington apple crop predicted a crop volume of 134 million boxes (40 lb.), on par with the previous season of 133 million boxes. Since the time of the initial estimate, extreme windstorms, wildfires on the West Coast, and more accurate reporting of crop load on the trees as harvest progressed, suggest a lighter total crop volume for the 2020-21 apple harvest.
Over Labor Day weekend, a strong windstorm resulted in apples being knocked off the tree and some growers sustaining damage to their trellis systems. Fueled by the wind event, wildfires burning in Washington and other West Coast states have produced intense smoky conditions, delaying harvest a few days as some areas have had to halt operations.
Expectations are for a 5-10 percent reduction in crop volume as a result of the adverse weather events.
Washington apple growers and orchard crews started picking Galas in late August and have since moved on to Honeycrisp. Harvest in Washington typically begins mid-August and lasts into November. Red Delicious, Fuji and Cosmic Crisp® will be harvested in October and the season will wrap up with Granny Smith and Cripps Pink in November.
Demand for Washington apples has been high in response to elevated health-conscious and bulk-purchase behavior by consumers. Volume of apples shipped during this time period is slightly lower than last season, but overall movement is good. Suppliers are working hard to meet the demand and keep on pace with season goals.
Washington is the leading producer of apples, representing 65 percent of all U.S. fresh apple production. The state exports one-third of its fresh crop to over 60 markets worldwide, accounting for 95 percent of all U.S. apple exports.