As volume for 2013-14 nears an end, the growers of "Pink Lady" brand apples in Washington state can look back on a second season in a row with record production thanks to months of outstanding movement and the increasing influence of a ‘new’ apple variety.
According to numbers reported by the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, this year’s crop — as listed by the variety name of Cripps Pink — is on target to be over 3.89 million cartons as compared to last season’s record of over 3.4 million.
“What we’re seeing in the Pink Lady industry is something not always seen in the farming business,” John Reeves, general manager of Pink Lady America LLC in Yakima, WA, said in a press release. “This apple is on a roll in a number of respects, starting with marketing success reaching into a string of seasons and now showing an upward trend in production.”
One of the elements Reeves is referring to is the overall picture of this season’s Pink Lady movement. It spent nearly every week seeing movement over the association’s target shipment analysis numbers.
“It’s always interesting to see how this apple performs every week when it comes to movement, but this season it was also important to see how well it did in comparison to the other apples — and it did very well,” Reeves said. “We also saw what looked to be a difference this year with the season getting off to a faster start when it came to the ‘shipments to date' numbers and we think we know why.”
Reeves referred to the first season where the new Maslin variety, an early sport of the "Pink Lady" brand, became available in significant volume. One of a number of sports meeting the brand promise with regards to the Pink Lady trademark, the Maslin variety is in harvest in early October as compared to late October and early November for standard Cripps.
“It appears that this early apple is adding a new dynamic to the market, which shouldn’t be a surprise,” Reeves said in the release. “Having a variety ready to eat right off the tree around three weeks early brings new energy to the marketplace.”
The availability of the earlier Pink Lady also has the potential of reducing the possibility of freeze damage later in the season and also may be expanding the size of the area where it can be grown.