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Apples are still Washington’s top crop

Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Apples led Washington's agricultural production for the eighth year in a row in 2012 with $2.25 billion of the state's total $9.89 billion in farmgate value.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Apples were Washington’s top agricultural commodity for the eighth year in a row in 2012, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Northwest regional office in Olympia.

Apples, with a record 128.7-million-box fresh crop, were valued at $2.25 billion, a 16-percent increase from 2011, according the NASS Top 40 report for Washington, issued Oct. 30. Apples were 23 percent of the state’s total agricultural value in 2012 compared with 21 percent in 2011.

The total agricultural value was $9.89 billion in 2012, 6 percent above a revised 2011 figure of $9.31 billion.

Record high values of production were set for six of the top 20 Washington commodities — apples, wheat, cattle and calves, grapes, pears and dry edible beans. Of the top 40, there were significant gains in value of several commodities including dry edible beans which increased 79 percent in value from 2011, barley up 69 percent, canola up 64 percent and onions up 51 percent.

Blueberries declined 30 percent from a record high in 2011 and wrinkled seed peas were down 28 percent.

“Overall, this is good news. Washington’s farmers and farmworkers have managed for several years to keep boosting the value of state harvests,” Bud Hover, director of the state Department of Agriculture, said in a news release.

Record employment and sales figures were also set in food processing, adding to the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy, Hover said.

Sales of fresh and processed apples totaled $3.4 billion in 2012, up from $2.6 billion in 2011 and $2.2 billion in 2010, said Dan Kelly, assistant manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association in Wenatchee. That’s a combination of USDA and Clearing House numbers and price at sale from packer-marketers, he said.

The $2.25 billion is lower because its price at point of sale from grower to warehouse and excludes packing, shipping and marketing costs, said Dennis Koong, deputy Northwest regional director of NASS. The $2.25 billion also may be lower because its based on January data instead of July data since July data wasn’t collected because of sequestration budget cuts, Koong said.

Apples averaged $24.41 per box in fresh sales in 2012, a record best and up from $22.71 in 2011, Kelly said. Apple prices have been good every year but one since 2007, he said.

Wheat and milk traded places in 2012 with wheat becoming the second highest value at $1.18 billion, up 4 percent. Milk slid to third at $1.16 billion, 9 percent lower than the previous year.

Rounding out the top five were potatoes at fourth at $700 million, down 9 percent, and all hay at $679 million, down 5 percent.

The top five commodities had a combined value of $5.97 billion or 60 percent of the total 2012 value, excluding government payments.

By commodity group: field crops were $3.18 billion, up 5 percent; fruits and nuts were $3.1 billion, up 17 percent; livestock was $2.37 billion, down 2 percent; vegetables were $562 million, up 10 percent; specialty products were $535 million, down less than 1 percent; and berries were $136 million, down 23 percent.

Apples had a value per harvested acre of $15,417 in 2012, followed by all cherries at $14,681 and blueberries at $10,675.

—Online: www.nass.usda.gov/ Click on statistics by state, Washington, publications, current news releases, top 40.



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