Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, March 20, 2015, Page 12, Image 12

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March 20, 2015
Backlog of containers at Seattle port ‘very small’
PORT from Page 1
Previously, Friedmann has
said agricultural exporters
lost an estimated $1.75 billion
worth of sales per month for
two to three months because
of the slowdown.
A port of Seattle spokes-
man said the backlog of con-
tainers there is “very small”
and that no ships were waiting
to dock. He said the number
of containers shipped is pro-
prietary information for ter-
minal operators.
Mike Hajny, vice president
of Wesco International, a hay
exporter in Ellensburg, Wash.,
said he’s shipping 20 to 21
containers of hay a day now
compared to six a month ago
and 30 before the slowdown
last fall.
“The challenge now seems
to be the amount they can get
on vessels because of termi-
nal congestion,” Hajny said.
“Ships don’t want to wait
forever and I believe they are
sailing without being full.”
Another problem, he said,
is that most shipping lines
are increasing rates $300 per
container on April 1. The rates
at Seattle are already $900 to
$950 per container and $300
to $350 at Los Angeles, he
“We haven’t seen an in-
crease of this magnitude in
recent years. They are trying
to recoup costs they’ve lost,”
Hajny said. “We will have
to pass it on to our custom-
ers and that’s a concern. It’s
like kicking a guy when he’s
Bossco Trading will have
to swallow some of the con-
tainer cost increase because it
will lose customers if it tries
to pass on all of it, said Shelly
Boshart Davis, vice president
of international sales of the
Tangent, Ore., rye grass straw
exporter. Bossco is shipping
about 45 containers a week
now, up from 35 a month ago
but down from 60 a year ago,
she said.
Washington apple exports,
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
A lone truck instead of three is loaded with hay for Japan at
Wesco International, Ellensburg, Wash., on Jan. 29. Wesco is now
shipping 20 to 21 containers a day versus six a month ago and 30
before the port slow down.
including those bound for
Mexico and Canada, were
about 800,000 40-pound box-
es per week in mid-February
but are now back up to about
1 million, said Jon DeVaney,
president of the Washington
State Tree Fruit Association
in Yakima. The goal was to be
above that through the winter
because of this year’s large
crop, he said. The estimated
$70 million in lost apple sales
during the 12 to 15 weeks of
the slowdown is conservative,
he said, because it doesn’t
include the effect on apple
prices and the cost of shipping
Shipments of frozen french
fries and potato products
from Washington “is better
but it’s hard to gauge how
much better,” said Matt
Harris, assistant executive
director of the Washington
Potato Commission in Mo-
ses Lake. Lost sales totaled
about $48 million for No-
vember, December and Jan-
uary, he said.
It would be difficult, he
said, for frozen french fry
exporters to rebound if the
agreement falls apart. The
global french fry market is
highly competitive, with Eu-
rope, Canada and China as
ready sources for customers
to turn to, he said.
The industry is concerned
and can’t afford to have the
same thing happen again fi ve
years from now when a new
contract expires, Harris said.
“It’s not something we
can absorb and it’s not with-
in our country’s best inter-
est to accept this kind of
behavior from both parties
(longshoremen and terminal
operators),” he said.
The industry is concerned
about over supply encroach-
ing on the 2015 potato crop,
he said.
Hay exporters will have
carryover and that means
they won’t buy as much new
crop this year, Hajny said.
The old crop will be sellable
for years but customers prefer
new crop, he said. Oversup-
ply should push prices down,
but weather is a big factor, he
said. If premium hay is short
because of weather-related
losses, prices will remain high
on the best product, he said.
“Port conditions are im-
proving but I wouldn’t say
anywhere close back to nor-
mal,” said Joe Schuele, U.S.
Meat Export Federation
spokesman in Denver. He said
he had no data to tell him if
beef and pork exports have
improved or by how much.
January exports were down
sharply from the year before
because of West Coast ports
and other factors, he said.
Red Delicious are still sought after for export
REDS from Page 1
From Iowa
to Washington
Red Delicious was discov-
ered in a Peru, Iowa, orchard
in 1880. The grower noticed
he had a different apple and
called it “Hawkeye,” after Io-
wa’s nickname, the Hawkeye
State. Stark Nurseries bought
the rights and propagated it
as the “Stark Delicious.” In
1914, it was renamed “Red
In 1921, Winesap, at 4.5
million 40-pound boxes, was
the Washington apple in-
dustry’s main variety in the
Wenatchee District, which
produced more apples than
the Yakima District. The to-
tal crop of both districts was
27.5 million boxes, according
to the Washington Growers
Clearing House Association.
That year, 1.7 million box-
es of the Standard Delicious,
also known as Common De-
licious, were packed in the
Wenatchee District.
By 1935, Standard and
Red Delicious production had
surpassed the Winesap in the
Wenatchee District. Some 6.2
million boxes were packed
compared with
boxes of Wine-
sap. No variety
breakdown was
the Yakima Dis-
trict’s 10.5 mil-
lion boxes.
lots of Wine-
saps and people
were looking
for something
different. Our
Van Well
very suited to
Delicious and
people began replacing Wine-
saps with this hot new vari-
ety,” says Tim Smith, Wash-
ington State University tree
fruit specialist emeritus.
Delicious probably took
over on fl avor, said Pete Van
Well, president of Van Well
Nursery in East Wenatchee.
“Winesap is more tart, reds
more sweet,” he said.
Van Well said some people
regarded Standard and Red
Delicious as distinct varieties.
Smith said Reds are just a red-
der strain of Standard.
“It’s the same cultivar, just
a different variation,” he said.
“We do the same thing now
with Fuji and Gala.”
Standard Delicious was
Wikimedia Commons
striped red and yellow when
ripe and was thought to be
more fl avorful and sweeter
than Reds, but Red Delicious
took off because of its bold
red color, Van Well said, not-
ing growers get paid on color.
“It’s our cool nights and
bright days,” said Fred Val-
entine, a retired horticultur-
ist. “It’s a much better apple
in Washington than any other
By 1949, Red Delicious
overtook Winesaps and Stan-
dards in the Wenatchee Dis-
trict, continuing an upward
trajectory that didn’t peak un-
til the 1990s.
Why it did so well
In the late 1920s and
1930s, the apple industry
was threatened by pest is-
sues, rising production costs,
high freight costs to the East
Coast and the Great Depres-
sion. The Washington Apple
Commission formed in 1937
to promote the state’s apples.
It focused on Red Delicious.
“It wasn’t until the mid-
1990s that the commission
began promoting other vari-
eties,” O’Rourke said.
As Red Delicious de-
veloped throughout Central
Washington in the 1930s,
’40s and ’50s, everyone was
looking for redder strains,
and Reds naturally provided
new strains.
“Probably 100 strains
came out. Everyone who
found a bud mutation on a
tree that produced wood a
little different genetically
hoped for a redder strain,”
Smith said.
The public likes a red ap-
ple, he said, noting newer
strains of Fuji and Gala today
are getting redder.
Forty-two strains of Red
Delicious were patented.
One was the Richared,
discovered in 1954 on the
Richardson Orchard, just
northwest of Wenatchee. Lo-
cals swear it’s the best Red
Delicious, helped by the ar-
ea’s superior micro-climate.
The apple is commemorated
by Richared Road, which
was named after it.
Strains developed in the
trees, too, yielding more
compact trees with more
fruiting spurs per foot, Valen-
tine said.
Besides the deep red col-
or, orchardists liked Red De-
licious because it’s easy to
“It’s a very simple ap-
ple to grow, cheap to grow
and store and pack and ship.
That’s why it became so pop-
ular,” Smith said. “It’s also
the most fi re blight-resistant
apple on earth.”
Fire blight is a major bac-
terial disease that kills trees.
Low production cost is
one reason Reds have hung
on so long, O’Rourke said.
Smaller growers with Reds
and not a lot of money to di-
versify have stuck with them,
he said.
Reds peaked at 72.3 per-
cent of the Washington crop
in 1981, O’Rourke said. The
largest volume of Reds was
61.4 million boxes in 1994
— still 60.9 percent of the
state’s apple crop.
Fall from favor
In the 1990s, consumers
were tiring of Red and Golden
Delicious and wanted new va-
rieties. The industry respond-
ed with Gala and Fuji and in
the 2000s with Honeycrisp
and an array of others.
Apples are sweetest if left
on the tree to ripen. Often fruit
is harvested slightly imma-
ture for longer shelf life, but
sweetness suffers.
“A lot of people look down
on quality of Reds, but if you
get a good one it’s a very en-
joyable apple,” Smith said.
“But a mealy one is an unfor-
givable sin to most people.”
Complaints about quality
contributed to the fall of Red
Delicious prices in the late
1990s, O’Rourke said. Anoth-
er factor was a fi nancial crisis
in Asia. Some growers went
out of business, and whole or-
chards were yanked.
Varietal diversifi cation be-
came the industry mantra. The
volume of Reds fell to 30 mil-
lion to 35 million boxes an-
nually and stayed there. Even
then, Red Delicious remained
Washington state’s No. 1 va-
Exports have kept them
Mexico, India, Indonesia
and China are all big markets
for Reds. They
go to many
other countries
as well be-
cause they store
so well, said
Danelle Huber,
marketing spe-
cialist at the Apple Commis-
Reds were 49 percent of
apple exports in 2013, she
“Indonesia regards it as
exotic fruit. We get dragon
fruit or pineapple and we
think it’s exotic. They get
Red Delicious and think it’s
exotic,” she said.
India likes Red Deli-
cious, and China and Indo-
nesia regard a big red apple
as a symbol of luck and
prosperity, Huber said.
“It’s our flagship ap-
ple, definitely our focus in
exports,” she said. “When
export markets think Wash-
ington, they think Washing-
ton Red Delicious. It’s what
they’ve grown to know and
love. It’s what we’ve always
Too many again
The state’s total apple
crops ranged from 100 mil-
lion to 110 million boxes
from 2004 through 2011, but
the crop jumped to 128.8 mil-
lion boxes in 2012. Of that
total, 38.5 million were Reds.
2014 brought a record
crop, estimated at 155 mil-
lion boxes in November
with 48 million Reds. The
total was revised downward
to 145.9 million by March
with 44.9 million Reds, and
27 million boxes remain to
be sold. Millions of boxes
of several varieties have
been dumped as prices fell.
plantings of Reds and other
varieties contributed to the
huge crop in 2014.
“It was a perfect storm
for setting a monster crop,”
said Tim Evans, general
sales manager of Chelan
Fresh Marketing. “There
were no frost events, per-
fect pollination weather and
a long growing season. Fruit
sized up well. There was a
lot of very large fruit.”
Too much fruit caused
the prices of Reds to tumble
below break-even prices of
$12 to $14 per box. In 2012,
they had been $22.
A future for Reds?
Reds are still sought after
for export, Evans said.
“They won’t go away,”
he said. “Do we have the
right percentage? Probably
“We’ve segmented the
demand and there are few-
er and fewer U.S. and Ca-
nadian citizens who will
pick up Reds when there’s
other choices,” said Keith
Mathews, CEO and gener-
al manager of First Fruits
Marketing of Washington,
in Yakima.
“I think we will see a lot
of Red Delicious orchards
pulled in the next few years
because I doubt if there
will be returns back to the
orchard to sustain them,”
Mathews said.
Van Well said 30 million
boxes seems to be the mag-
ic number for Reds.
“I think there’s a future
in the Red, but it won’t be
like it was at any time in
the past,” Valentine said.
Smith said Reds usually
returned good money but
this year may not cover the
costs of picking and pack-
ing. He said the industry
doesn’t thrive on low-cost,
low-price apples.
In 2012, O’Rourke pre-
dicted Gala would surpass
Reds in 2018 in acreage.
Now he says it may be 2020
before that happens because
of a surge in high-density
plantings that allow more
trees to be planted on fewer
acres. Low prices will also
cause growers to rethink
Red acreage, he said.
At the WSU Apple Day
in Wenatchee in January,
Tom Auvil, research horti-
culturist at the Washington
Tree Fruit Research Com-
mission, warned growers to
look hard at the economics
of their operations in deter-
mining what to plant.
“Some companies have
done a great job of chang-
ing varieties to enhance
revenue, and some have
not,” he said.
The previous month, at
the industry’s annual meet-
ing, two top marketers talk-
ed about Washington soon
producing 200 million box-
es of apples annually.
Growth continues as big
companies plant high-den-
sity orchards because they
out perform expectations
on yield and revenue, Auvil
“The more they make,
the more they invest,” he
said. “Intensively managed
new plantings are having
amazing results.”
As the apple crop grows,
he said, domestic consump-
tion has to grow with it.
“We better increase con-
sumption in North Ameri-
ca,” Auvil said, “and what’s
for sure is we won’t do it
with Red Delicious.”
Reservoir storage is a little better this year
DROUGHT from Page 1
Chamberlin presented a
picture of the basin he took
several weeks ago from an
airplane that showed no
“There’s no snow. It’s just
bare,” he said.
Reservoir storage is a lit-
tle better this year, “but we
had a lot better snowpack and
stream fl ows last year,” he
Because there’s no snow
left to bank on, this year’s wa-
ter supply will likely be less
than last year’s, he said. “The
only thing that can turn that
around is some unusual storm
Based on the 30-year av-
erage, there should be about
400,00 acre-feet of storage
water in the reservoir right
Most of the snow the basin
did receive washed out about
1.5 months early this year be-
cause of rain and warmer tem-
peratures, he said. As a result,
river in-fl ows into the reser-
voir peaked after Christmas.
“That’s historically un-
said. “We should be building
snowpack at Christmas time.”
Chamberlin said 2014 and
1992 were the worst water
supply years ever for the dis-
While past bad water years
were immediately followed
by good water years, he said,
the basin has now suffered
through four straight dry years
and 2015 could actually turn
out to be worse than 2014.
“We have not been through
these conditions, ever, in the
life of the project,” he said.
“That cumulative effect is
what’s getting us.”
Brian Sauer, a Bureau of
Reclamation water operations
manager, said the April-June
weather forecast, which calls
for warmer temperatures and
an equal chance of wetter or
drier conditions, doesn’t look
like it will help the situation.
“This year is going to look,
unfortunately, like last year,
at least from a water supply
standpoint,” he said.
Sean Ellis/Capital Press
Owyhee Irrigation District board members (front row) and other
farmers listen during the OID’s annual water supply report March
17. OID offi cials said the 2015 water supply could actually turn
out to be tighter than 2014, which was one of the two worst water
years in the project’s 80-year history.