Knowledge Exchange

Ag Economy

Fruit

Apples

  • A large and high-quality apple crop in the Northwest is typically what drives the apple market. The August 1 forecast for the 2019 Washington apple crop is 137.3 million boxes, an 18% increase over 2018’s relatively weak harvest. The national crop is expected to come in around average.
  • Trade wars have had a negative effect on exports, and some product which might have otherwise been exported has been redirected to the U.S. domestic market. Exports to Mexico, the U.S.'s largest customer, are down 22% YTD.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 N.Y. harvest is somewhat variable due to adverse weather events in some areas including last spring's late frosts. 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.
  • The Niagara crop is largely harvested, with some growers reporting normal crops while others have experienced losses and filed crop insurance claims.
  • The Concord harvest is progressing very well and most fields are reporting good sugar content and tonnage.
  • Projected pricing has increased by $5-10 per ton over 2018.

Wine

  • Growers predict a good year across most of the Northeast for wine grapes in both yield and quality.
  • The “craft beverage” industry has been rapidly expanding in 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 the last year. 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 growers reported steady prices so far this year, 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

  • Production for 2019 is likely to be smaller than usual, which is not a bad thing, given the previously oversupplied market. Growers are somewhat encouraged that markets for sweetened-dried-cranberries look tight.
  • Independent pricing has ticked up, and some new buyers have entered the market.
  • Pricing has improved, but remains historically low.
  • Projections estimates that Massachusetts, the second largest cranberry-producing state in the nation, will have a crop yield of 2.3 million barrels. New Jersey is forecast to produce 570,000 barrels.2

1 Northwest Farm Credit Services
2 USDA/NASS, August 12, 2019 Crop Production Report