Wisconsin's apple production in 2012 lowest since 1945

2013-02-18T16:40:00Z Wisconsin's apple production in 2012 lowest since 1945ROB SCHULTZ | Wisconsin State Journal | rschultz@madison.com | 608-252-6487 madison.com

One of the worst growing seasons in recent memory for state apple growers in 2012 led to the lowest production numbers since 1945.

Total apple production was down 54 percent, bearing acres were down 600, and yields decreased more than three tons per acre, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

A heat wave early last spring awakened apple and many other fruit trees, causing them to bloom prematurely, before periods of frost in April killed many of the blossoms. A summerlong drought compounded the problem.

NASS also reported that prices rose 29 percent from 2011 to 62.6 cents per pound.

Nationally, apple production dropped 4 percent, and prices increased to 34.3 per pound.

"I'm not surprised," said Anna Maenner, executive director of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association. "We're hoping this year will be different. It's a little scary when these warm days come up like we've been having, but we haven't had a stretch yet like we had last year. We hope to keep those apple trees sleeping."

Cranberries were stressed by the same weather conditions, but irrigation systems helped the state produce a record 483 million pounds in 2012, the report said. Producers harvested 19,700 acres, which was an increase of 9 percent over 2011.

Total U.S. production was up 4 percent to 805 million pounds, and Wisconsin produced 60 percent of the U.S. crop in 2012. The price nationally rose to $47.90 per 100 pounds.

State tart cherry production was down 75 percent, and yields were down 73 percent from 2011 numbers, the report said. Prices soared from 28.5 cents per pound in 2011 to $1.11 per pound in 2012, the report said. Total U.S. production was down 63 percent.

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