Northwest Apples

Northwest Apples

Apples were first planted in Washington state (then called Vancouver Fort) sometime between 1827 and 1829. Today, Washington is the largest U.S. apple producer, responsible for between 40 and 50% of all apples, whether fresh or processed, consumed in the U.S. Washington apples are not only sold in all fifty states, they're exported to about 4o countries.

Most of the apples from Washington state are grown in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, nurtured by the area's rich lava-ash soil, the same soil responsible for producing amazing Washington wine grapes and cherries. Initially, apples were planted along river banks, allowing for both easy irrigation and transport of the ripe fruit. There are seven primary apple growing regions in Washington, with the Yakima valley the leading growing area. Yakima and the Columbia Basin are especially known for their success growing the Fuji apple. The Okanogan region in the north of Washington is known for their late-bearing varieties. Lake Chelan orchards are dominated by Red Delicious apples. The Wenatchee Valley, like the Spokane area, is especially known for Red and Golden Delicious apples, as well as Gala, Rome and McIntosh. The Skagit region in Western coastal Washington is best known for the older heirloom and more traditional varieties like Gravenstein, Orange Pippin, and Carmine apples. Watch for these traditional varieties at smaller orchards, pick-your-own orchards, and roadside stands, since they tend to be more flavorful than the hybridized Red and Golden delicious that are more common; these varieties were bred for appearance and shipping, rather than taste. There are numerous apple orchards and small growers in Washington with roadside stands selling fresh local apples, or you can pick your own Washington apples.

Oregon also grows marvelous apples, though not in the copious quantities of Washington, the reputation of Oregon apples in the Northwest is quite high. Oregon is the seventh larger producer of apples, and has earned a reputation for preserving heirloom varieties and cider apples. Varieties of apples like Hidden Rose and Melrose, as well as the more familiar commercial varieties like Gala. Oregon has also been more successful than Washington in convincing ordinary consumers with a yard to plant small apple orchards for personal use. Pick-your-own orchards in Oregon feature not only Gala, Mcintosh, Jonagold, Braeburn, Cameo and the varieties familiar from the grocery store, but more unusual varieties of apple, like Pink Lady, Winesap, Sundowner, Gravenstein, Pinova, Northern Spy, and Ambrosia.