apples

A popular gift now for Chinese New Year is a box of red apples from Washington. But Northwest shippers say a labor dispute at West Coast ports is jeopardizing that lucrative overseas market.

jkbrooks85 / Flickr

A slowdown in operations at ports up and down the West Coast is choking off the flow of apples, Christmas trees, potatoes and other Northwest products to foreign markets. Exporters say the delays could have long-term consequences for Northwest agriculture if the problems aren’t resolved before the holidays.

In Washington, fruit shippers have reported sending refrigerated trucks full of apples from this year’s historic crop to the port of Seattle, only to have them sit there for days.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

You’ve probably noticed the arctic air mass from the North Pole nuzzling in close here for a icy hug. What you might not have thought of is this: The cold apples in Northwest, and the people struggling to harvest the last of them.

When It Comes To The Apple Club, Washington's A VIP

Nov 10, 2014
Dan Charles / NPR

Monday morning, NPR ran a story about the changing apple market - specifically, about "club" apples, exclusively-branded apples that only some groups are allowed to grow. You probably know a few of these club apples already. The Honeycrisp is the best-known. And more and more club apples are showing up in stores across the country: the Jazz, the Envy, the Ambrosia. These new apples could even some day push out traditional varieties like the Red Delicious.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

When Eduardo Cruz awoke to the sounds of rain outside his home in Yakima on a recent morning, he didn’t have to wait long for a cell phone call from the orchard manager where he works picking apples, an hour away in Mattawa.

Washington Apple Commission / Northwest News Network

    

Washington apples will soon be packed aboard boats to China. That’s because the Chinese government approved market access to Northwest fruit today after a two-year market closure. 

Getting access to China is essentially a $50 million dollar deal per year for Washington apples farmers.

The Chinese government closed off markets in August of 2012. China said it was concerned about a recently discovered fungus.

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

Grower Rob McCormick stoops to examine a knotty tree trunk in an apple orchard in Selah, Washington. “You see right here?” he says. “These had been Red Delicious. Then we cut this down to a stump and grafted in the Galas.” 

Washington’s agricultural crops in 2012 are up 6 percent from the year before. A recent USDA report say agricultural products reached nearly $10 billion.

We’ve all been there. You’re hungry, and you want something good to eat, but there’s no time. So you hit the vending machine for sugar or salt.

A recent Washington State University grad wants to change that. She’s started a Northwest business around a simple, better choice: an urban apple delivery service.

Northwest apple growers are expecting a bumper crop this year and harvest is already beginning on some farms.

But growers are excited over an apple variety you can’t even get in stores yet.

Washington’s crop this year is going to be the second largest on record – at 4.8-billion pounds. Only last year's crop was larger.

Northwest apple expert Rebecca Lyons attributes that recent growth to newer much-denser plantings. But more and more farmers are turning toward premium, newer varieties to earn profits.

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