Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

Fruit

Apples

  • The fall harvest is complete and estimates are for a large and high quality Northwest crop, which typically drives the market. The estimate for the 2019 Washington apple crop is 137.3 million boxes, an 18% increase over 2018’s relatively weak harvest. The national crop is estimated at around average.
  • Trade disputes have had a negative effect on exports, and some product which might have otherwise been exported has been redirected to the US domestic market. Exports to Mexico, our largest customer, were down 22%, in 2019.1
  • Producers with modern, in-demand varieties should see positive profits, while those with more dated varieties may struggle with soft pricing.
  • Growers report that the New York harvest is somewhat variable due to adverse weather events in some areas including late frosts last spring. Hudson Valley growers report a good harvest. Fresh market apples are garnering better pricing than processing varieties, although reports across the region vary regarding pricing and movement.

Juice Grapes

  • Challenging weather conditions led to variable results for juice grape growers in the region.
  • For the Niagara variety, some growers reported normal crops while others have experienced losses and filed crop insurance claims.
  • The Concord harvest went very well, and most fields reported good sugar content and tonnage.

Wine

  • Growers reported a good year in 2019 across most of the Northeast for wine grapes in terms of yield and quality.
  • The “craft beverage” industry has been rapidly expanding in terms of both consumer interest and number of producers. This has led to tremendous growth of the industry, but some dilution of visitor counts among a greater number of options than were there in the past. However, most wineries report that overall retail spending is keeping pace or is slightly greater than last year.
  • Nationally, wine sales increased nearly 3% over 2018.
  • Per capita alcohol consumption has been flat for the past seven years, but as millennials and “Gen Z” enter the market, there is some new excitement about wine and the potential for future growth. 

Small Fruits

  • New Jersey highbush blueberry growers reported steady prices for 2019, but some quality challenges due to excessive moisture.
  • In Maine, prices for lowbush blueberries continue to be low. Some growers reported a smaller-than-normal strawberry crop this season. 

Cranberries

  • National production for 2019 came in at 9,040,000 barrels, 3% greater than the 5-year average. Growers are somewhat encouraged that markets for sweetened-dried-cranberries look tight. Pricing has improved, but remains low by recent historical standards.  

1 Northwest Farm Credit Services