More apples are expected to be available this year

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CLAYTON TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (8/31/18) - Good news for apple lovers!

Projections for this year are up due to better weather conditions.

Last season, Michigan lost part of its apple crop.

But, this year is shaping up to be a better one.

And there's some interesting trends you should know about.

"We have big, big apples, much bigger than we thought we were going to," said Jim Koan, owner of Almar Orchards in Clayton Township.

After a very dry start to summer, the past month has produced more rain which is helping some mid-Michigan orchards.

State projections are for about 28 million bushels, up from 20 million last year.

Leading the charge is the most popular apple, Honeycrisp.

"Probably 75% of our sales are Honeycrisp, even though there's a lot of other apples out there, that are just as good as these," commented Koan.

One trend is older varieties like MacIntosh, Cortland and Red Delicious just are not as popular as they once were.

In fact, just this year, the Gala apple has forged ahead of Red Delicious as the number one variety produced in the United States.

Honeycrisp ranks fifth, but growers expect it to move up to the third spot, as production increases 20% this season.
But, don't expect lower prices anytime soon.

"Growers don't like Honeycrisp. That's why it commands a premium price, is because every insect loves it. It's prone to a lot of different disease issues," added Koan.

There are storage issues as well, which is why another trend is the race to make an even better apple than Honeycrisp.

It won't be easy.

"And let's say you had a Honeycrisp and a Fuji and you crossed those two to make a new "baby", so to speak, the seeds, each seed is going to have a litle different genetic personality than all the other seeds," said Koan.

So don't expect a better apple to be on your table or in your mouth anytime soon.

We'll just have to settle for the hundred commercially grown varieties already available.

"It could take 20-30 years of a lot of people working on that same project to come up with the next new big one," Koan said.

Growers say they would like to see a lot of sunshine, some cool nights to add color to the apples, as well as a little bit of rain, but not as much as the past few weeks, to give them a fabulous season.

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