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Michigan apple industry ready for comeback

After extreme weather events knocked out most of Michigan’s 2012 apple crop, the state's apple growers are looking forward to a busy harvest season in 2013.

“Our growers are feeling very positive about the 2013 crop,” Michigan Apple Committee Executive Director Diane Smith said in a press release. “We had one frost earlier this month, but most of the orchards came through that with little or no damage. There were a lot of blossoms on the trees, and we are hoping Mother Nature smiles on us this summer.”

While it is too early to predict how many apples will be harvested, growers and industry experts are pleased with the way the spring weather has progressed and are expecting to harvest a good-quality apple crop.

An early heat wave followed by a cold, frost-filled spring in 2012 caused Michigan growers to harvest less than 10 percent of their usual crop, which on average is 20-23 million bushels. This year spring stayed cool and blossom came at the typical time, around mid-May.

“There is one very positive aspect to no crop in 2012 — apple trees are very healthy and robust coming into the 2013 cropping season,” Michigan State University Extension Educator Amy Irish-Brown said in the release. “This has been easy to see already this spring with an abundance of blossoms in all tree fruits and many more leaves present than normal for this early in the season. This will lead to a potentially outstanding apple crop in the fall. Healthy trees produce the most flavorful, colorful and sweet fruits.”

According to the Michigan Apple Committee, it will be August before the industry can attach an accurate number to the crop size prediction. Crop predictions are typically announced at the USApple Outlook meeting, which will be held August 22-23 in Chicago. For now, growers are simply glad they will have a presence in the market this year.

“Our growers, shippers and processors are looking forward to being back in produce departments and on store shelves. We have heard from many people who really missed Michigan apples last year and we are excited to make a strong comeback in the marketplace,” said Smith. “Our industry continues to invest in growth and look toward the future. We are recovering from last year’s loss and moving forward.”

That is great news for Michigan, where agriculture is the second-largest industry and apples are the largest fruit crop. The Michigan apple industry has an estimated $700 million to $900 million annual effect on the state’s economy.

“The Michigan apple industry’s comeback story is important to our whole state,” said Smith. “We hope people across the state will come out and support our growers — their neighbors — by buying Michigan apples in stores and visiting the great tourist destinations of cider mills, U-pick orchards and farm markets this summer and fall. Our growers are looking forward to sharing the great flavors of Michigan apples this year.”

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.