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Northwest’s Hot Summer Means Apples Are Smaller This Year

Harvest is revving up at Gary Middleton’s organic orchards north of Pasco. The autumn sun warms the backs of pickers perched on tall aluminum ladders. But this year the fruit they are picking is smaller - and there is less of it. The scorching heat of June and the summer’s drought stressed orchards region wide.

“Thank God there is next year,” said Middleton. “It’s been a very tough year. It could be much worse if I was a dryland wheat farmer or someone who had very little rainfall.” Middleton says he’s lucky he has uninterrupted irrigation.

This year, the Washington Apple Commission says growers will pick about 120 million bushels. That’s 20 million less than last year. The good news is many prime export markets like Mexico and Europe like smaller apples.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.