Washington apple producers expect to see a decline in reds but huge growth in newer varieties in future.

Assessing the state’s varietal mix at Prognosfruit in Italy this week, Washington Apple Commission’s Todd Fryhofer said that production declines had been noted in Red Delicious, McIntosh, Idared and Golden Delicious – that latter which he described as “the number-one variety being taken out of plating today.”

Fuji and Granny Smith production is flat, while Gala is on the rise, but the real growth areas are Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink.

Fryhofer predicted that “soaring” Honeycrisp production would see it become the state’s number-three apple.

Interestingly, many growers are switching to organic production when replanting with new varieties, with organic production in Washington set to almost double and rise from 9 million boxes to 15m this year.

“The US apple industry is going through a renaissance, with growers putting in newer, better-tasting varieties,” Fryhofer said.

Shippers, who have had to deal with a tough year in which a record crop coincided with the Russian ban and a six-month port strike that Fryhofer said cost $100m, are also looking for new markets on crops where there is an overdependence on a single customer.

Some 77 per cent of the state’s Fuji exports go to Taiwan, while 79 per cent of Goldens are sold to Mexico. “We need to diversify or we could end up with some problems,” he stressed.

There is also a plan to increase Red Delicious exports from 48 per cent currently to 65 per cent, and to almost double Gala exports from the current 8.8m bushels to 15m in the next five years.

This will all happen at a time of consolidation in the Washington top-fruit sector, with Fryhofer predicting that smaller growers or those who do not invest in orchards, infrastructure or the correct varietal mix will drop out in the coming years.