Production Cost Estimation of Establishing a Cider Apple Orchard in Washington State
CSANR Project 123
This project addresses the BIOAg priority of economic analysis by investigating the cost and returns for establishing a cider apple orchard in Washington. The enterprise budget will include specialty varieties used for quality hard ciders, and a comparison of hand harvest with machine harvest using currently available equipment (raspberry harvester). The goal is to support development of a sustainable cider industry in Washington. Cider production promotes sustainability by preserving genetic diversity with specialty and heirloom apples well adapted to local conditions but not suitable for commercial fresh markets. Cider apples need fewer pesticides, since minor surface blemishes are tolerated if yield and internal fruit quality are not affected. Cider apple production in western Washington is not limited by environment-induced diseases (e.g., scab) which otherwise limit apple production . Thus pesticide exposure with cider apples is reduced in the local environment and community. Cider production also promotes greater social sustainability in the rural community by providing local employment opportunities beyond the apple harvest season. Washington is poised to become the leader in cider research and production in the U.S. and WSU Mount Vernon NWREC has one of the most active cider research and education programs in the country. Cider is well suited to small-scale artisanal producers in western Washington relying on local markets, as well as large-scale wholesalers in eastern Washington who rely on mass production and export. This project will strengthen the knowledge base for an expanding cider industry.