SUNNYSIDE Fresh, juicy apples are the number one agricultural crop in Washington State “…and apples also ranks as the state’s leading agricultural export,” Washington Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover told Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club members last Monday, Jan. 28.
“We export 95 percent of all U.S. apples going to more than 60 countries around the world,” he said, adding that Washington state produces two-thirds of the nation’s total apple production.
Even at that figure, it’s hard to believe that Washington apple growers still sell two-thirds of their apples in fresh U.S. markets.
“We grow a lot of apples in the state,” he said.
“State apple growers harvested more than 117 million boxes of apples last year, but the number was down from the 2017 crop,” Fryhover said.
“In 2017, we harvested 133 million boxes of fresh apples. Our biggest year was 2014 when 142 million boxes of apples were harvested — of all varieties,” he added.
“The most popular apples exported are the Red Delicious and the Galas,” he added.
Fryhover, who is tasked with promoting and protecting the Washington apple market and logo, said the Washington state apple research has led to an apple that shows great promise as a fresh market keeper.
The Washington State University’s agricultural research department launched the Cosmic Crisp.
While it isn’t official on the market yet, “… we think it will be a good seller. The flesh is dense and crisp,” he explained.
Asked if the Trump Administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum was having any impact on the state’s exports to overseas and neighboring export markets, Fryhover admitted the tariffs are having a fallout effect on agricultural market.
Section 232 and 2301 retaliatory tariffs are have resulted in bans on U.S. agricultural imports in Russia. In India, the 50 percent normal duty has been increased by 25 percent tariff. That has been delayed, Fryhover said, but it could change.
“We already pay a normal duty on our crops, but now there is a 40 percent retaliatory tariff, meaning a $20 box of apples sold in China could now cost upwards of $60-$80 a box,” he said. China already grows a lot of its own apples.
Currently, Washington apples find their best markets in Mexico, India and Canada. He said Mexico annually imports 13 million cartons.
The Mexican government is charging a duty on its imports but has added a 20 percent tariff on American apples, Fryhover added.