Wind, smoke may affect Washington’s apple crop this year

Washington Apples
Courtesy: Washington Apple Commission

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The wildfires and strong windstorms that hit Washington recently may end up affecting more than just our health or our infrastructure.

According to the Washington Apple Commission, the most recent estimate predicts a 5-10% reduction in crop volume for Washington apples due to recent weather. Though wildfires are an annual occurrence, this year has been unique.

“About two years ago we also had some extreme smoky conditions,” said Toni Lynn Adams, communication outreach specialist for the Washington Apple Commission. “But combined with the windstorm it’s created kind of an anomaly.”

Over Labor Day weekend, strong winds resulted in apples being knocked off trees and some growers sustaining damage to their trellis systems. Additionally, wildfires burning in Washington and other West Coast states have produced intense smoky conditions, causing some growers to delay the harvesting process. Depending on the type of apple, harvest in Washington typically begins mid-August and lasts into November.

Meanwhile, demand for apples has gone up over the last couple of months.

“Consumers are very health-conscious right now with COVID-19,” said Adams. “There has also been a shift in consumer purchasing behavior – they are far more likely to buy in bulk and spend less time in the grocery store.”

Washington is the leading producer of apples, representing 65% of all U.S. fresh apple production.