Following more than half a century of holding the first place among apple varieties produced in the U.S., Red Delicious this year will likely yield first place to Gala, according to the U.S. Apple Association. The announcement came August 23 at the organization’s 2018 Annual Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference in Chicago.
USApple’s 2018 production forecast, as reported in its annual Production and Utilization Analysis, is as follows: 1) Gala, 2) Red Delicious, 3) Granny Smith, 4) Fuji, and 5) Honeycrisp.
Measured in 42 pound units, Gala production is estimated to jump from 49.5 million units in 2017 to 52.4 million in 2018, edging out Red Delicious, whose production is expected to decrease from 57.9 million in 2017 to 51.7 million in 2018.
“The rise in production of newer varieties of apples aimed at the fresh consumption domestic market has caused demand for Red Delicious to decline,” according to Mark Seetin, USApple director of regulatory and industry affairs. “However, Red Delicious is important in the export market, where it makes up roughly half of our apple exports.”
Gala, which originated in New Zealand in the 1930s, has increased in popularity because consumers like its taste, texture and sweetness; growers like the variety because of its relative ease of growing and productivity.
According to Seetin, another apple variety to be on the lookout for in production growth is the Honeycrisp, which is forecast to move ahead of Golden Delicious into fifth place this year (knocking Golden Delicious to sixth place). And, if the current trend continues, within a year or two the apple will move ahead of Granny Smith and Fuji into third place. Last year, Honeycrisp production reached 19.3 million units; this year, the apple is forecasted to reach 23.5 million.
The USApple 2018 production forecast is based on the U.S. Agriculture Department’s August crop forecast. Since USDA stopped reporting apple production by variety in 1981, USApple has gathered information from the industry on the production of varieties by state and region, including the annual August 1 estimates from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association and USApple’s Market News monthly storage report of apples in storage by variety and state. The USApple data on varieties is combined with the USDA August production estimate to develop the USApple estimate of production by variety by state.
Source: U.S. Apple August 23, 2018 news release