Many states see dismal apple crop, but WA is going strong - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Many states see dismal apple crop, but WA is going strong

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- NBC Right Now continues to follow the record apple crop in Washington, and it looks like it couldn't have come at a better time.

It's been a rough year for many apple growers around the United States. From New York, to Indiana, a spring cold spell destroyed much of the fruit before it even finished growing.

In Michigan, farmers ended up with only about 10% of the usual harvest, and at Ditzler's Orchard in Rosedale, Indiana, owner Judy Ditzler says they saw only about a quarter of the norm.

"Everything that was like 8 feet and below, froze. And everything up in the top got nipped but not completely taken out," said Ditzler.

Bad luck in other states, means good prices for Washington growers though.

The Washington Growers Clearing House says farmers are seeing prices about 13% higher than last year, and because supply is down around most of the country, Washington is shipping out apples in record numbers.

"Last week we shipped 2.5 million boxes of apples out of the state. Two-thirds of that came from the Yakima Valley, and that has a huge local economic impact," said Jon DeVaney, executive director of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.

But the worker shortage across the state could sour that. DeVaney says just last week there were 700 fruit picker jobs that went unfilled, 300 in Yakima alone.

But those numbers don't completely discourage him. He says there's still a good possibility this year's crop will bring in more than $7 billion in economic impact, and set a new record.
    
"There's still a lot of harvest left to go and quite a few varieties, but it's looking like we're likely to exceed that previous record," said DeVaney.

He says that along with wholesale domestic apple prices being up across the board, Washington state exports are up about 20% compared to last year.

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