Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey will hold a virtual farm tour on Wednesday.
Pate and Mackey will host a Facebook Live Event celebrating the fourth annual “Apple Crunch Day” at Airport Road Intermediate School at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Schools across the state will show their support for fresh, local produce by crunching into an apple on Apple Crunch Day along with Pate and Mackey.
This year the department is also offering a virtual farm tour of Scott’s Orchard, which will be available online.
Students will be able to “ride along” with Pate and Mackey for an informative and educational look into how their farm works. Students will learn about the different varieties of apples, how they grow and much more. October is National Apple Month.
The 2020 apple harvest is still being picked but the 2019 apple crop was the sixth largest crop in history.
Apple exports rebounded 15 percent last year after a downturn in 2018 due to international trade disputes. The value of the export crop was up 7 percent.
The U.S. harvested 262 million bushels of apples in 2019, which weighs in at more than 11 billion pounds, in 2019. The 2019 apple crop was up 8 percent in volume from 2018 but lower prices caused the overall wholesale value to decrease from $2.95 billion for the 2018 crop to $2.75 billion — a decrease of 7 percent in value for the larger 2019 crop.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimate of the 2020 apple crop is 253.6 million bushels, which is down 3 percent from the 2019 crop. It would be the ninth largest crop since the government department began reporting apple production in the 1940s.
The United States exported 44.9 million bushels, valued at $913 million, in 2019.
“Growers export about $1 billion worth of apples annually, making trade a critical part of the industry,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “While we are comforted to see export numbers rising after a nail-biting year of lost market share and plummeting grower revenues, we still have our work cut out for us to get back on steady ground.”
The industry is continuing to adapt to consumer preferences by increasing production of the new more popular Honeycrisp variety of apple, which is expected to rise by 12 percent, moving it ahead of Granny Smith and Fuji into third place in national production.
“With the 2018 crop, Red Delicious lost the position it had held for decades as the largest volume variety to Gala,” said USApple Director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs Mark Seetin. “Projections for the current crop are that Gala will continue to expand its edge over Red Delicious and will remain the largest volume variety produced.”
The 2020 top five produced apple varieties are Gala, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith and Fuji. The top five apple varieties comprise 67 percent of all the apples grown in the U.S.