I told my mentor who raised apples that we had tried California peaches early in 2022 and found them not worth the price. Over boxes upon boxes of apples grown in Washington’s Wenatchee Valley, he told me that there is a reason why California peaches were so bad. In this state who controls the water controls the quality of the fruit grown. And right now California almond growers are getting more water than peach growers so their quality is far better. I commented on the size of the apple and pear orchards I have seen in Washington, and he told me a story about a man named Ebb. Ebb made a good living for his entire life growing apples on only 3 acres. Now a spread of trees covering 300 acres is considered a modest business for a family. Larger farmers growing apple trees have money but no mortgages, and Canadian apple growers are going broke selling apples. Things have changed. He. got very wary when we talked about the dynamics of apple growing, and he refused to commit himself to actual numbers grown. He acted like he didn’t know actual figures from Washington State when I spoke of 40 million boxes of apples on the market. So I switched the topic to types of apples grown in this state and he relaxed a bit.
I asked him about the success of the Honeycrisp apple. He told me that they are sweet and versatile apples but that they are hard to grow. He said that they were the apple of choice especially between May and September, their growing season. I asked him about the relatively new Cosmic Crisp apples, and he asked me if I knew that they had been developed in Washington by WSU. They are dark red, available year round, very successful so far, and are easy to grow. We discussed Granny Smiths, the very popular Galas, Cripp Pinks, and Fujis, the apple of choice in Japan. He told me that 60% of all apples are grown in Washington, and that the only apple indigenous to North America is the crab apple. He told me that all apples originate in Asia, and he repeated that China is the world’s largest apple producer. I asked him about what appears to be a popular apple called Ambrosia. I told him that many people I know think it’s the best apple on the market and that this is the only apple that they crave to eat. He told me about the vast number of apple varieties that are grown in Washington, and then he told me that only 30 types of apples actually get grown here.
He asked me if I knew that the only apple completely developed in Washington is the Cameo, which has not done well, and he told me that 175,000 acres of apples are being harvested every year in this state. The Cameo has not been very successful. He told me that all Washington apples are still picked by hand. Then the subject turned to the Red Delicious apple. He told me that this apple has been the one of choice for a long time but is losing its popularity. It is still considered the main red, but it now accounts for only 1/3 of Washington apple production, and its numbers continue to drop.
The Honeycrisp and Cosmic Crisp are the future of apples with the ambrosia gaining in popularity, but its the Gala that is a very popular apple still and accounts for 19% of all the apples eaten in this country. The Club Apples that continue to gain popularity include the Jazz variety, which is an expensive apple, and the Kiku. The states of Washington and New York are at the top of apple production in this country and account for 82% of all apples sold in America.