This year's large Utah apple crop could keep a lot of doctors away. Enough apples will be available for every resident to eat a bushelful.
"But they probably won't. That's a lot of apples," said Tony Hatch, Utah State University Extension fruit specialist.Hatch said the large fruit crop is a pleasant surprise, because the year following a bumper crop like last year's is usually an off year.
"Trees go into alternate bearing. A good year drains off energy, and the tree needs to rest. Some trees have a more pronounced reaction to stress than others. Apples are notorious for alternate bearing," Hatch said.
But 1988 has had a heavy bloom, so barring a very late frost, the harvest should be almost up to average.
Hatch said the sweet cherry yield will be 70 percent of normal; tart cherries, about 55 percent of normal; peaches, 90 percent of normal; pears, 70 percent of normal; and apples, about 85 percent of normal.
Prices will depend on harvests in other states, Hatch said.
"If everyone has a good year, supply is high and prices go down. If isolated areas have a good year, the low supply drives prices up and allows growers to move frozen fruit from the year before. Since it takes money to run a freezer, people are always happy to empty their freezers."
In an average weather year, there may still be surprise surpluses, Hatch said.
"If a certain fruit has a very good year, orchardists may jump on the bandwagon and put in more trees. Within a few years, the market is flooded, and prices go down."
And advertising also plays a part.
"A Washington state ad campaign made the red delicious apple famous. Any connoisseur of apples would never select a red delicious. It doesn't have nearly the flavor of some other varieties. But the fruit is pretty and well advertised.
"Washington has a $3 million to $4 million budget for advertising, and Utah works with peanuts compared to that."
But, for maximum profits, Utah fruit should be sold to locals anyway. Orchardists make more money if they can save on transportation, Hatch said.
"The amazing thing is, many Utahns don't even know Utah has a fruit industry. Every spring we are in the news when frosts threaten the orchards. How could people miss us?"