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CHICAGO -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting the 2010 U.S. apple crop at 226 million bushels (42-pound equivalents), 10.4 million bushels fewer than last year's production and 3.7 million bushels below the five-year average.

On a percentage basis, USDA is forecasting 2010’s national apple volume at 4 percent below last year and 1 percent below the five-year average.

The USDA released its estimate Aug. 12 and was noted in literature distributed at the U.S. Apple Association’s annual Apple Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference, held here Aug. 19-20.

One of the key aspects of the apple conference every year are discussions to examine the USDA figures and come up with its own estimates, which usually follow the USDA’s but are often more accurate, according to USApple executives.

Following breakout session in which members met in three separate groups - -East, Midwest and West -- to tweak the USDA figures based on information from growers since the USDA’s Aug. 12 estimate, the U.S. Apple Association announced its estimates at the conclusion of its conference.

USApple’s national forecast is for 221.546 million bushels, or 6 percent below last year and 3 percent below the five-year average.

In the East, USApple is forecasting 53.194 million bushels, 14 percent below last year and 8 percent below the five-year average. In the Midwest, USApple is forecasting 22.233 million bushels, 35 percent below last year and 16 percent below the five-year average. In the West, USApple is forecasting 146.119 million bushels, 4 percent above last year and 1 percent above the five-year average.

(A more detailed report on the USApple conference appears in the Aug. 30, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)