WENATCHEE, Wash. — Economic deterioration of the Washington tree fruit industry is accelerating because of low apple prices over the past year, and company consolidations, on hold because of COVID-19, will soon start happening, a Seattle investment banker says.

“Balance sheets are getting weaker and profits are disappearing and banks are getting much tougher regarding lending money and calling in debt payments,” said Michael Butler, chairman and CEO of Cascadia Capital in Seattle.