A year ago, Reds were forecast at 33.7 million but ended up being 4.5 million boxes more, which surprised people because they were pulling out Reds, he said. Larger fruit size increased volume but also a lot of small growers, not selected by companies to grow managed varieties, are stuck with Reds and poor returns until the new Cosmic Crisp takes off, he said.
The average wholesale price of standard grade, medium size Reds has been $11 to $14.90 per box for at least three months, down $5 on the low end and $4 on the high end since January, according to USDA tracking.
The tough thing for the start of the new season is that there’s still 5.5 million boxes of Reds left to sell from the 2016 season, O’Rourke said. It may hamper marketers’ ability to get premium prices at the start of the new season, he said.
“The cleanup on the other varieties is good, including Gala. But that’s a lot of Reds. Whether you give them away, I don’t know. We might be able to get more into India if competing suppliers like South Africa or Australia are late into market with new crop,” O’Rourke said. Mexico may take more since its crop is down, he said. Reds are needed for exports since managed varieties are too expensive for foreign importers, he said.
The jury is still out on whether there will be a lot more Reds than forecast again this year, Evans said. Reds are forecast at 24 percent of the crop and need to be 20 percent to get better prices, he said.
Braeburn and Jonagold are forecast at half their volumes of three years ago. Cameo is close to the same. Acreage of all three is lessening and they will pretty much be gone in a few years with the advent of Cosmic Crisp, O’Rourke said.
Article by Dan Wheat, Capital Press