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.
We created a new web page ‘WSU Cider Information’, http://extension.wsu.edu/maritimefruit/Pages/CiderInfo.aspx. A link to our new cider orchard budget will be posted on this site. We created a poster for grower meetings to highlight the project’s key results, and this poster is posted on our webpage. We have also posted links to our new on-line trainings for cider apples. We are presenting a poster that summarizes the cider enterprise budget at the 2014 ASHS annual conference. We propose to publish a new HortTechnology journal article that compares and contrasts cider orchard enterprise budgets for western and eastern Washington.
Additional Funds Leveraged
A related study to develop a cost-of-production budget for cider apples in central Washington and a partial budget for mechanical harvest (using a small fruit harvester) has been funded by the WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant for 2014. We have submitted a NIFA SCRI planning grant for cider research and extension, with the intent of submitting a full NIFA SCRI CAPs proposal in 2015.
Impacts and Outcomes
- Short-Term: This project provides Washington growers with new information and results regarding the costs for establishing and producing a cider apple orchard in western Washington. Information regarding break even prices and profitability will assist growers in determining which options to select for orchard planting systems and what prices to set for fruit. Information generated by this project has been shared with colleagues and producers through state and national meetings, and through a new Extension publication. We anticipate 20 growers will adopt information from this study within the first 5 years, impacting a total of 100 acres in western Washington.
- Intermediate-Term: Ten new cider apple orchards will be established in western Washington by 2020 as a result of this project. New producers will consider including specialty cider apple varieties in their orchard planning. Additionally, cider apple growers will consider the use of production contracts to offset risks of new orchard establishment.
- Long-Term: Improvements in the economic status of cider orchards, including planting varieties most in demand, will increase the economic viability of orchardists throughout the region. Cider production can provide a high-value use for cull dessert apples as well, when combined with selected specialty cider varieties. By 2025 there will be at least 30 cideries and 40 cider apple growers in western Washington.