Fewer Apples to Fall in Va.

Nationally, USDA predicts largest crop in four years

By Asha Beh
|  Monday, Nov 2, 2009  |  Updated 11:16 AM EDT
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Fewer Apples to Fall in Va.

NBC

Apples on the Concklin's farm

"How 'bout them apples?" might not be the best thing to say to Virginia's farmers this year.

Virginia, the sixth-largest grower of the versatile fruit, will produce 30 million pounds fewer apples than last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's expected to keep prices -- which have slid about 16 cents per pound, to 34 cents a pound -- lower as well.

Similarly, national apple prices fell about 30 percent in one year, Spencer Neale, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation commodities specialist, told The Roanoke Times.

The rest of the country, meanwhile, is expecting its largest crop ever -- 10.1 billion pounds of apples, the USDA predicts. In Michigan, for example, the harvest has doubled since last year.

Preston Bryant, a field manager at Bryant Orchards in Botetourt County, told the Times that he expects his "friends out on the West Coast in Washington...[to] ship out here and flood the market."

Washington, which accounts for almost half of the nation's apples, is expected to harvest nearly 6 billion pounds of the fruit this fall.

According to Neale, the USDA makes its predictions on the size of the national crop every September, the beginning of the harvest season, and wholesalers base their prices on the number.

In other words, it all comes down to supply and demand -- like last year, when the harvest totaled 7 percent more than forecast, prices fell.

The problem for farmers is that prices "didn't really recover" after that, Neale said.

Hmmm.. more apples, lower prices... we think it's time to get baking, America. 

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