US growers revised the initial crop estimates made by the USDA downwards last week at the annual conference of its national Apple Association held in Chicago last week. This initial forecast taken a month earlier was reduced from 254 million bushels to 239 million. This represents a 5% reduction on last year's crop due to generally reduced fruit set and erratic weather. However a key influence will be Washington state which is the largest US source where there is an 8% increase raising the volume to 128 million bushels. Meanwhile Neil Gordon, UK director of the US Apple Export Council, which represents the other major states, says that New York State is down 17%, Michigan 22%, and New England 7%. "Nevertheless we expect that supplies of Empire, McIntosh, Eastern Red Delicious will be more than adequate to meet UK demands," Gordon added. "Crop quality is excellent and Eastern States fruit looks like being a week earlier than last season." Pink Lady, grown in California which is also part of the USAEC, reports a 31% shortfall for all varieties. However Pink Lady planting is still increasing, not only in the San Joaquin Valley but also the more southerly Cuyama Valley. Here in this new production area, higher elevation and cooler night temperatures are already producing fruit with exceptionally good colour. Picking should begin on schedule in about two months' time. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}