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Big year expected for Northwest apricots, both in quantity and size

Robada apricots on the tree
Courtesy of Washington State Fruit Commission
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The Robada variety, bred for its larger size and beautiful color, is a newer variety of apricot.

The cool spring hurt many Northwest crops, but not apricots.

Northwest apricot growers have faced challenges over the past few years like short pollination windows and changing weather patterns. This year, apricots that bloomed in March were met with snow in April.

Sean Gilbert, an apricot grower in the Yakima Valley, says despite the challenges, Washington growers have ended up with a large crop for the summer season, both in quantity and in size. And over the years, new agriculture technology means the varieties have evolved.

“Back in the day apricots used to be smaller and they weren’t as sweet,” Gilbert said. “And today we’ve grown apricots that are bigger and better for fresh consumption, and when you ripen them up just right, they taste amazing.”

Gilbert grows the popular Robada variety of the fruit, known for its deep orange color and red blush. Fresh apricots of all kinds should be lining store shelves throughout the Northwest in big numbers starting this week.

The president of the Washington State Fruit Commission BJ Thurlby estimates 400,000 boxes of Washington grown apricots this year.

“We’re happy about the crop we’ve gotten. The growers have been picking cots now for about two weeks. But the peak of the season really isn’t going to happen in probably ‘til the end of the first week of July. So lots more apricots to come,” says Thurlby.

Price increases for labor, gas, and supplies like fertilizer mean you’ll pay more for produce. Thurlby estimates apricots will price out between $2.99 and $4.99 per pound this year.

Thurlby says internal data reveals more apricot purchases in states with large populations of retirees.

He hopes younger generations will give apricots a chance as a healthy snack.

Recipes for apricots can be found at wastatefruit.com.

Lauren Paterson discovered the power of storytelling in 5th grade while growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho. Her homemade exercise video featuring Barbie being devoured by Tyrannosaurus Rex had her classmates howling, and she’s been hooked by the power of media ever since.