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Early start for Michigan apples

Overview of the upcoming Michigan apple season by Sharon Robb of North Bay Produce, complemented by charts from Agronometrics.

Original published in on September 02, 2021 

The 2021 season for Michigan apples is slightly earlier than it’s historically been.

“The season is about six days ahead of normal because of the consistent high heat and rain throughout the summer,” says Ken Korson of North Bay Produce in Traverse City, MI. “The growing season has been very good this summer with timely rains and plenty of heat. Also, so far we have not had any damaging hail.”

Volumes (in Kg) of Apples from Michigan in the US Market
Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

While harvest began mid-August with our early varieties, North Bay’s apple growers will continue to pick until the end of October.

Overall, the apple crop looks to be approximately 10 percent smaller than last year due to a late spring frost. “Sizing this year is up on most varieties which will generate more tray size fruit,” adds Korson, adding that North Bay Produce has remodeled a few of its packaging sheds and expanded one of them as well to help improve production.

North Bay Produce has started harvest on Paula Reds, Ginger Golds, early Royal Galas and Premier Honeys.

Solid demand anticipated

Demand for the fruit looks good regionally thanks to the significant freight increases growers and shippers are reporting from across the country. Competing with the Michigan season are largely Ohio, New York and Washington production.

As for pricing this season, they’ve gone up approximately 15-30 percent so far this year for early apples and new contracts. “And the biggest challenges for us are packaging and freight increases as well as labor,” adds Korson.

Price (in USD) of apples from Michigan in the US Market
Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Looking ahead, Korson notes that next week will see steady production with limited amounts of fruit ready. “But come September 7th we’ll really kick into high gear,” says Korson.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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