Apple farmers expecting record crops

YAKIMA, Wash. - This year's apple harvest is predicted to be a record breaker, but the big harvest has growers concerned about having enough workers to pick the apples.

Farmer John Thompson is thrilled about his apple crop. He says his trees have produced more apples than ever before.

"They've had an excellent blooming time, an excellent time all the way through, we've had excellent growing weather and it's created an excellent crop," he said.

John is not alone in the Yakima valley. The Washington state apple commission predicts a record breaking year for the Washington apple harvest.

They estimate more than 140 million cartons of apples. That's almost 12 million

John said,"A farmer's always glad to see when you get toward the end of the year that you have a good crop on the tree"

With all the apples John and other growers in the county are worried about having enough workers to harvest them. Yakima county is the number one county in Washington for the most acres of apples.

John says it's always more challenging for small farmers to find enough workers because of the competition. Even large fruit companies are worried about getting the fruit picked in time.

Steve Clement said, "There's a lot of concern among the grower base that there might not be enough labor, but we'll see when we get into harvest in full."

John says his apples won't be ripe for a few more weeks. He hopes he'll have enough employees by then.

"You want to find somebody to get those things off the tree and there's nobody out there and you're getting extremely nervous, but usually we get them done, but sometimes it creates some stress," he said.

He'll have to find a way with this years crop.

If you're wondering how many apples each carton holds, it's about 40 pounds each.

In all farmers are expecting about 5.6 billion pounds this year.

Apple harvest typically starts in mid-August and ends early November.