Stemilt, CMI, Oneonta, and Domex Share Insights into this Fall's Apple Crop
- by Kyle Braver
WASHINGTON - With apple season here again, Washington State's growers are excited about the state of their crops this year. Volume is up at Stemilt, Columbia Marketing International (CMI), Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, and Domex Superfresh Growers this season, and reports from all parties indicate that the quality of the fall fruit is excellent.
Brianna Shales, Stemilt's Communications Manager, shared with ANUK that “Color, size, and fruit quality are looking great and we're really excited about our varietal mix that features consumer favorite varieties like Honeycrisp, Pinata, Pink Lady, Fuji, and more. Our new, high-tech apple line has one of the longest sizers in the world and will deliver great consistency and high quality to every box.”
This combination of consistency and quality is a large part of what has made products like Stemilt's Lil Snappers kid-sized fruit program, an important component of the grower's back-to-school lineup, such a huge hit at the retail aisle.
Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers' Director of Marketing Scott Marboe wholeheartedly agreed with this assessment. “Our new apple packing lines are working as well if not better than we had planned and our new trees are producing great fruit,” he told me. “We have some fantastic growers and customers worldwide as well as a great team in place here at Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers to support them. We're looking forward to a fantastic season for all. We are sure consumers will be exceptionally happy.”
In addition to the quality of this year's fall crop, overall industry volume is also looking outstanding.
"As an industry, we are looking at a record crop of around 140 million cartons, up over 20% from last year’s harvest. Overall the crop is sizing up nicely, and color is coming along nicely as well as we begin to experience cooler Northwest nights that are needed for color and overall flavor," CMI's Marketing Specialist, Katharine Grove tells us.
Organic varieties at CMI have also risen in the past year, with the amount of fruit coming out of Washington state up 33%, according to Katharine.
Scott seconded this statement, explaining that “Volume this year is way up and as a company, we're expecting to harvest roughly 15.5-15.8 million cartons of apples. This is up about 2.5 million from our harvest last year.”
Over at Domex Superfresh Growers, we hear more of the same great news.
“We're expecting to be able to ship out about 20 million cartons of apples this season, a 40% increase over our harvest from last year,” shared Vice President of Marketing, Howard Nager. “Looking at the size and quality of the harvest we have on our hands this year, you really see why people are calling it a vintage crop.”
One reason for the uptick in volume we are experiencing this season is the expansion of the acreage these growers are devoting to apple cultivation. Oneonta, for example, has “continued to acquire new land throughout the previous year,” according to Scott Marboe.
Not everything can be attributed to acreage however, as Howard explained to me. While Domex has increased the amount of farmland used for apple cultivation by about 8-10% this year, he credits use of some of the latest high density planting techniques for the magnitude of year's yields at Domex.
“Domex has been leading the way with the latest in high density planting technology, something which has really allowed us to make the most out of every acre of land we farm here in Washington,” Howard explained. “This has really allowed us to capitalize on the amazing growing conditions we have enjoyed this year.”
With this kind of momentum behind them, this year's back-to-school season is shaping up to be a strong one for Stemilt, CMI, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers, and Domex Superfresh Growers.