Northwest Tree Fruit Growers Hurt By Back-to-Back Odd Weather Years
Industry experts anticipate the 2022 Washington apple crop will be 11% smaller year-over-year when harvest is complete. But why is this year’s crop smaller?
The Washington state Farm Bureau’s April Clayton, an apple grower in north central Washington, said her crop is down about 33% this year.
“So, if you do have something to pick off the trees, you should hopefully make money, but we’re seeing a lot of damage out there. That cold spring really took a hit on all of the fruit. Russett its where the skins get damaged if it gets too cold, we’re seeing a lot of that in the fields.”
Clayton said a fair amount of this year’s crop will go to juice or peelers. She noted the reduction in size this year is thanks to bad timing.
“Last year, we had that extreme heat during the month of June, where we had triple digits for the entire month. That put a stress on the trees and we saw a depletion of bloom this year, and so with the lack of bloom combined with the cold temperatures [spring 2022] that prevented the bees from working, that really didn’t set too much fruit. And the fruit that did set, if the temperatures get below 28 degrees it will actually scar and damage the new fruit, the skin of it, as it is developing.”
If there is a silver lining, less fruit means less need for pickers and workers, which Clayton noted will allow farmers to save on their bottom lines.
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