The Washington apple crop has come in at 122 million packed boxes--13 million boxes more than had initially been forecast and 12 million more than ever before. The previous record yield of 110 million boxes was in 2010.
Washington was fortunate to receive ideal growing conditions when other parts of the U.S. have had severe weather problems.
During the last week of October alone, 3 million boxes--3,000 truckloads--were shipped. Exports are 40 percent advanced on last year, and prices have also been an average of $4 higher than last year.
Dan Kelly, assistant manager at the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, said the stars aligned for the Washington industry this year.
"We've got the largest crop ever, we have the biggest shipments to date ever, we have good pricing levels, and we have a big increase in export shipments," he said. "It's definitely an unusual year. I just sit back looking at the numbers of the whole deal, and say, 'When am I going to wake up?'"
The November storage report shows that the Gala crop came in more than 4 million boxes higher than first forecast at 26.5 million boxes, with 25 percent of the volume already shipped by the end of October.
The Red Delicious crop is now forecast at 36.6 million boxes, Golden Delicious 12.6 million, Granny Smith 13.1 million, Fuji 17.2 million, and Honeycrisp at almost 5 million. Of the total crop, 8.6 million boxes are organic apples.
A fruit tree survey has shown that the apple acreage had not increased over the last five years, but tree density had.
"We used to talk about 40 bins an acre," he said. "Now, I'm hearing 80 and 100, depending on the variety."
The record prices are of course welcomed by growers; however, rising costs means that they won't necessarily receive record returns this year.