WENATCHEE — More of what Thoreau dubbed “the noblest of fruits” are going south this year because of a larger projected Washington apple crop and Mexico’s elimination of a retaliatory 20 percent tariff on the noble fruit, according to the Washington Apple Commission.

Exports of the state’s apples to Mexico are up 17.4 percent so far from last season, said Apple Commission Communications Coordinator Toni Lynn Adams. The commission promotes Washington apple exports.

For the 2019-20 season as of Nov. 30, more than one million boxes have been exported to Mexico compared to more than 900,000 boxes for the 2018-19 season, she said.

Last season the state produced 117 million 40-pound boxes with this year’s projected crop expected to be 138 million boxes, said Adams. The season is from roughly Sept. 1 through Aug. 31.

Mexico in May dropped its tariff, which had been in place as payback for U.S.-imposed tariffs on Mexican aluminum and steel. The U.S. also removed those tariffs in May.

“Mexico is our number one export market,” Adams said, “so we are pleased with the movement … and hope it continues.”

The Apple Commission received almost $10 million in funding this year from the USDA’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program to help offset the tariff effects, he said.

The program is designed to “help U.S. agricultural exporters develop new markets and will help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ tariff and non-tariff barriers,” according to a USDA news release.

One third of Washington’s fresh apples are exported and 95 percent of all U.S. fresh apples exported to 60 markets worldwide are from Washington, she said.

“Apples are cyclical so we had a low volume season last season so we were predicting an increase in volume this season,” said Adams.

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