In the fertile valleys and plateaus of Washington’s Columbia Basin, growers tend to orchards that produce some of the world’s best apples. More than 175,000 acres of apple orchards are nestled in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains at elevations from 500 to 3,000 feet above sea level.
Apples of all varieties can be sold either as fresh or processed. Fresh, or whole, apples are cleaned and sold as-is to consumers; processed apples are used as canned, frozen, dried or sliced apples, or are processed and turned into apple concentrate, applesauce or apple juice.
The United States is the world’s second largest producer of apples, behind the People’s Republic of China. Approximately 25% of every fresh apple grown in the United States is exported. The top ten export markets for U.S. grown apples are Mexico, Canada, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Russia and Vietnam. The United States’ 2011 crop set an export record with a value of approximately $987 million for fresh-apples.
Concord grapes are used primarily for grape juice and grape jellies, which are made from processed grape concentrate; it’s a process by which water is removed from the raw grape juice. Concord grapes can also be pasteurized and stored as single strength juice or made into jelly by heating and adding fruit pectin and sweeteners.
The concord grape variety traces its origins to Concord, Massachusetts, in the late 1840s, where it was first produced by hybridizing different local native species. Concord grapes became favorable because of their early ripening characteristics, which help them survive harmful northern frosts, and their rich, full-bodied flavor. The variety quickly spread worldwide in popularity, and in 2012 concord grapes constituted over 85% of all grape varieties used in the processed grape industry. The United States produces approximately 303,110 tons of concord grapes. Washington State produces approximately 55%, or approximately 167,000 tons, of all domestically-grown concord grapes.
Snake River produces approximately 20,000 tons of concord grapes annually, which is approximately 12% of Washington State’s annual concord grape production and 7% within the United States.