It is not too often that we do a post on fruit ag news, but we just recently came across an article in the Good Fruit Grower, which is based in my home city of Yakima, Wash.
In the article, a Washington State agricultural economist predicts apple production in the state for 2021. (Washington is by far the largest producer of apples, and for 2012 total apple sales may be close to $2 billion.) For many decades, the largest produced apple in our state was the Red Delicious. However, this variety is expected to decline from 33 million boxes (42 lb.) to 25 million boxes.
The Gala apple will overtake Red Delicious by about 2018 and be the No. 1 variety in 2021 with a production of about 29 million boxes. The Fuji variety will be No. 3 at about 21 million boxes.
The big mover, however, will be the Honeycrisp, which appears to be the current favorite apple with consumers. This variety is expected to jump from the current annual production of about 4 million boxes to well over 13 million boxes in 2021. This apple is probably my favorite one to eat, and we have had several plantings of this variety near our house in the last couple of years.
Let me give you some numbers on potential revenue from Honeycrisp based on current all-time prices. Assume a corn grower is able to get 250 bu. of corn at $7 per bu. This is a gross of about $1,750 per acre, which is probably an all-time high. Some Honeycrisp growers may get production in excess of 100 bins per acre, a pack-out of 14 boxes per bin and $35 or more per box. This equals gross revenue of $49,000 per acre or more in many cases. Before all the corn farmers start growing Honeycrisp, you need to realize that the costs of growing and packing this crop are extremely higher than corn growing.
Total apple production in Washington State is expected to increase from the current 105 to 110 million boxes to about 115 to 130 millon boxes by 2021. Apple growers, like most farmers, are having better revenue years than in the past, but the future trend of production still appears positive.