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Okanagan apple growers expecting ‘fairly strong’ prices for this year’s crop


July 28, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

July 28, 2008, Kelowna, B.C. –
Apple growers should be looking at prices similar to last year's since
there's no sign of a bumper crop in Washington state, says B.C. Fruit
Growers' Association president Joe Sardinha.

July 28, 2008, Kelowna, B.C. – Apple growers should be looking at prices similar to last year's since there's no sign of a bumper crop in Washington state, says B.C. Fruit Growers' Association president Joe Sardinha.

Expectations are that the Washington crop will come in at about 90 million 18-kilogram boxes, well below the record of nearly 120 million boxes.

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A relatively modest crop helps to keep prices high for apple growers, including the orchardists who will produce about 3.5 million boxes in the Okanagan.

"We expect that prices will be fairly strong again this year,'' Sardinha said. “Last year's profits weren't a record by any means, but the prices were still half-decent.''

Prices for the highest-demand apple varieties, such as Ambrosia, could again come in around 50 cents a pound for high-quality fruit, Sardinha said, and Extra Fancy Galas could draw about 25 cents a
pound.

The price for Macs, which once dipped near 10 cents a pound, could hit 20 cents a pound.

Given the time it takes all the fruit to reach market, growers will soon receive their final payment for last year's crop.

Advance payments for this year's harvest will follow shortly, enabling growers to have cash on hand to pay pickers, including the estimated 1,000 Mexican farm workers currently in the Okanagan Valley.

Overall, this year's crop is shaping up to be a reasonable one, both in size and quality, despite concerns about a late frost and widespread hail damage in early July.

"The growing conditions have been generally good,'' said Sardinha, a Summerland orchardist, "but there have been a few challenges, like the frost on April 19-20 and the hail on July 3.''

East Kelowna grower Nicole Bullock said her family's apple crop is looking "fantastic.''

"There's still a way to go, of course, but right now we're expecting a great harvest when we begin picking in early September,'' Bullock said.

There have been scattered reports throughout the valley of "sunburn'' on apples.

These are yellow or brown patches that detract from an apple's appearance, generally resulting in the fruit being culled and not sent to market.