Snohomish, WA. – Some orchards in Washington State, the leading apple producer in the U.S. last year, only have a few apples left on their trees.
“It was a variety of different things that made this season such a difficult season dating back to the year before,” said Swans Trail Farms Operations Manager Nate Krause.
Two straight summers of high temperatures and drought have put a dent in this year’s supply.
“This year we lost about 60% of our crop comparable to the year past, by the amount of apples that we took off of our trees,” Krause said.
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It’s more than just the heat. Washington also had a cold and rainy spring, limiting the amount of pollen in the air, which apple trees need.
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“You had some frosts and some cold weather that impacted pollination and is expected to reduce production,” said Christopher Gerlach with the U.S. Apple Association.
Some farmers are having trouble making ends meet.
“It’s really putting a lot of these small family growers on the cusp,” Gerlach said.
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Swans Trail Farms increased their apple prices this year to $3.50/lb, up from $3.00/lb, to make up for the smaller supply. Krause is hoping that’s the last increase they’ll have to make.
“In farming, you’re just going to have those years,” Krause said. “You have to weather yourself, you know, for those bad years.”
The average national retail price for apples this year is $1.31/lb, the highest in the last five years.
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