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Apples still top crop in Washington

For more than a decade apples have been Washington’s top value agricultural commodity and that continued in 2017 at $2.43 billion of the state’s total $10.6 billion in farmgate value.
Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Published on October 12, 2018 9:02AM

Last changed on October 13, 2018 4:32PM

OLYMPIA — Agricultural production in Washington grew 4 percent to $10.6 billion in 2017 with apples as the top value commodity for the 13th year in a row, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

At $2.43 billion, apples represented 23 percent of the total agricultural value. That was up 3 percent from 2016 but shy of the record high of $2.48 billion in 2012.

Noting that all Washington tree fruit exceeded $3.2 billion, Desmond O’Rourke, retired Washington State University agricultural economist and world apple analyst, called that impressive given trade disruptions of the past year.

Mainstream apple varieties such as Gala, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Braeburn continue to struggle while proprietary varieties continue to expand and generate higher prices, O’Rourke said.

“However, competition among the club (proprietary) varieties is likely to intensify as production expands and the arrival of the new Cosmic Crisp in 2019 will add to the pressures,” he said.

Honeycrisp continues “to defy the odds,” he said, maintaining premium prices and wide retail promotions despite increasing in sales by 36.7 percent in 2017.

The Oct. 10 report from the NASS Northwest regional office in Olympia lists milk in second place, at $1.19 billion, up 8 percent from 2016.

Wheat value of production moved up two spots to take the third position in the state rankings. Wheat value in 2017 was $691 million, up 5 percent from the previous year. Potatoes, valued at $687 million, fell one spot to fourth. This represents a 16 percent decrease from the previous year. Cattle and calves rounded out the top five with a value of $664 million, down 6 percent from the previous year.

The top five commodities had a combined value of $5.66 billion, or 54 percent of the 2017 value for all commodities, excluding government payments. The same five commodities in 2016 had a combined value of $5.62 billion, or 55 percent of the total 2016 value.

Hay ranked sixth at $515 million, up 7.7 percent. Hops were seventh at a record high $489 million, up 28 percent. Cherries were next at $479 million, down 4.2 percent, and grapes, at $318 million, were down 11.4 percent. Pears, ranking 10th, were a record $246 million, up 4.5 percent from 2016 and 1 percent from the previous record high in 2014.

Other commodities outside the top 10 that showed significant increases in value from the previous year were: eggs at $141 million, up 21 percent; blueberries at $115 million, up 22 percent; and canola at $15.1 million, up 64 percent.

Four of the top 10 commodities declined in value from the previous year: potatoes, cattle and calves, cherries and grapes.

Other notable commodities that declined in value in 2017 were onions, down 30 percent to $130 million; lentils, down 31 percent to $18.4 million; and dry edible peas, down 40 percent to $15.7 million.

Crop production totaled a little over $8 billion and livestock a little over $2.5 billion.


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