New York’s 2018 apple production is forecast at 31 million bushels (1.3 billion lbs.), slightly over last year, and roughly on par with the state’s five-year average.1 Yield and fruit size has been good. Overall grower mood is positive.
The USDA forecasts U.S. apple production at 288 million bushels, slightly higher than last year’s crop, while the U.S. Apple Association forecasts six percent lower. While national production estimates differ, both organizations forecast Washington’s production lower. On the flip-side, Michigan rebounded from last year’s poor harvest with a 40 percent increase.
In the processing apple market, prices have improved slightly, but have not kept pace with rising costs of production. Increased interest in cider apple varieties has been seen due to growth in that sector.
New Jersey Peaches
Favorable growing conditions led to an above average crop in the East for 2018. Juice grape prices have been low for years, but major processors seem to have balanced inventory more closely with demand, which should lead to higher pay prices this year.
2018 was a good year for grape yield, but wet conditions brought significant disease pressure. Storage tanks are mostly full from last year’s bumper crop, so juice and bulk wine will have to find markets, which may be at lower prices. Reports indicate that visitor counts continue to decline slightly, but overall retail spending is keeping pace or slightly higher than last year. This means visitors are spending more at each winery which could be due to general economic improvements. Increase in retail sales is mainly due to increased tasting fees, non-wine sales (i.e. winery merchandise, events, etc.) and slightly increased wine prices rather than increases in wine sold.
New Jersey highbush blueberry growers reported reduced yields and average prices, resulting in an average year. Meanwhile in Maine, the wild blueberry market is struggling with reduced yields and prices at a 10-year low. Highbush blueberries are often sold on the fresh market, and lowbush, “wild” blueberries are generally sold for processing, which explains the price disparity.
The cranberry market continues to struggle with low prices from independent handlers below cost of production. The economics of cranberry producers are mainly influenced by where they market their product. USDA/NASS forecasts 2018 U.S. cranberry production at 8.63 million barrels, three percent higher than 2017.
Massachusetts’ crop is forecast at 1.90 million barrels, one percent lower than last year. Continued ample production will limit upward price movement. The industry’s Cranberry Marketing Committee projects that supply will exceed demand in the coming year by 66 percent.2 In an effort to manage supply, USDA passed a 25 percent marketing order reduction for the 2018 crop, an increase from last year’s 15 percent handler withholding.
1 New York Apple Association
2 Capital Press, October 02, 2018