YAKIMA, Wash. — The volume of new early Pink Lady brand apples shipped in October from Washington continued to increase this year, giving consumers more choice and filling a retail gap, Pink Lady America officials in Yakima say.
Early Pink Lady is a strain of the variety Cripps Pink that is harvested three weeks or more earlier and is filling a void in produce departments in October and November, said Alan Taylor, marketing director of Pink Lady America.
Cripps Pink and regular Pink Lady, a branded Cripps Pink, are harvested in November and usually stored for a few weeks to balance acids and sugars before shipments start Dec. 1, Taylor said. Supplies of domestic and imported Cripps Pink from the prior season have run out by October so Cripps Pink is absent from U.S. grocery stores in October and November, Taylor said.
A new early strain of Pink Lady, developed a few years ago, is picking up the slack. It is ready to eat off the tree, not needing storage time, he said.
So far this season, 9,000 boxes of early Pink Lady were shipped in the week ending Oct. 13, Taylor said. The number rose to 13,000 for the week ending Oct. 20, 32,000 for Oct. 27 and 43,000 for Nov. 3, he said.
That’s up substantially from the year before, he said. The volume is not yet enough to fill the entire gap nationally but is heading in that direction, he said.
Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association and the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association track Cripps Pink and early Pink Lady as one category, typically running about 3 million boxes annually. But the numbers in October are exclusively early Pink Lady because Cripps Pink and regular Pink Lady have not yet been picked, Taylor said.
Beside filling a supply void, early Pink Lady is less stressful to harvest because it’s done before growers have to contend with freezing temperatures, said John Reeves, general manager of Pink Lady America.
The volumes of Cripps Pink and regular Pink Lady sometimes are reduced by freezes.