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Apples in Aomori traded at season's first auction

Apple buyers have started bidding at the first auction of this year's crop in Aomori Prefecture's Itayanagi Town, northeastern Japan.

Aomori accounted for about 60 percent of Japan's apple production in the last fiscal year.

About 520 producers and brokers gathered at the Tsugaru apple market on Tuesday. It is the only market in Japan dedicated to trading apples.

More than 940 boxes, or about 19 tons of apples in four varieties were auctioned. They included early harvested green apple "natsumidori" and red apple "hanaiwai."

Hanaiwai fetched about 125 dollars per 20-kilogram box. The red apple is a popular offering for ancestors in the mid-August Obon holiday period.

Producers say apples are growing well this year after warm temperatures caused trees to bloom earlier than usual in the spring, helped along by a favorable amount of rain.

One supplier said he was glad apples are fetching high prices and expressed hope for a good harvest in the autumn.

Tsushima Tomonori from the market says the first auction went well because of strong demand ahead of the upcoming summer holiday. He said he hopes the producers continue to grow tasty apples to attract more demand in Japan and from abroad.