TRAVERSE CITY — The Michigan apply industry set new shipment records in October, and that’s no surprise to northern Michigan apple farmers.
John Kilcherman of Christmas Cove Farms in Northport said he had a very successful yield for apples this growing season. There were so many apples, he said, that getting them all processed was a challenge. A down apple growing year in 2012 left the trees especially strong and productive this growing season, he said.
“A lot of apples,” Kilcherman said, noting processing challenges thanks to heavy volume caused him to “find another home for some at a lower price.”
Apple farmer Jim Bardenhagen of Bardenhagen Farms said he had similar strong results at his Leelanau County acreage.
“A big crop of apples,” Bardenhagen said. “It’s about the best we’ve had, I’d say, as far as yields go in a long while.”
Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said the industry set new shipping records for two consecutive weeks in October. The industry set its first record the week of Oct. 5 when it shipped 411,973 boxes of apples. The following week another record was set with the shipment of 414,702 boxes. For comparison, the industry’s prior shipping record for the second week of October was at 378,933.
“Based on our storage figures, it’s one of the largest crops we’ve ever had in the state,” Smith said. “The last largest was 1995; it’s definitely one of the largest we’ve ever seen. Our estimate is 30 million bushels.”
The state has 9.2 million apple trees in commercial production on 36,500 acres. Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the United States, distributing apples to 26 states and 18 countries. It’s estimated apples have an annual economic impact of $700 to $900 million on the state’s economy.