Harvest labor costs for cider apples may potentially be reduced compared to costs for picking dessert fruit, because pickers would typically ‘strip-pick’ all fruit from the tree rather than be selective for fruit size and color requirements for fresh market apples. However, cider apples are often smaller than dessert fruit, which can increase harvest time and eliminate labor gains made by strip-picking. Cider apples are typically ripened as much as possible on the tree, which makes them prone to drop
Pest management considerations in cider apple systems
Because cosmetic finish is not a major concern for cider apples, IPM programs are an area where input and management reductions may be made without compromising the profitability of the orchard. There are multiple considerations in tailoring an IPM approach in a cider orchard. First, as mentioned above, if any substantial portion of the crop will be sold to a higher-value, higher-quality standard market, then the IPM program should be tailored to meet that highest market. This means that growers
Crop load management and biennial bearing
Crop load management in cider apples is approached with different goals than for dessert fruit. For cider apples, fruit size is not typically an important consideration, nor necessarily is reduction of fruit clustering. Typically, a cider apple grower is seeking high total tonnage of smaller apples with higher skin-to-flesh ratio, preferably on an annual basis. Therefore, aggressive thinning and especially thinners that promote cell division (e.g., benzyladenine-containing materials) are not generally recommended in cider orchards. Many European cider apple cultivars
Pruning cider apple trees
Cider apple training systems
Considerable debate exists around the best tree size and training systems for cider apple production. In the past several decades, tree size in many commercial orchards have shrunk, and those smaller trees have been planted at higher densities of trees per acre. This intensification has led to generally increased yields, decreased labor inputs, and increased dessert fruit quality in many orchards. However, the economic output of such orchards is contrasted with high up-front input costs, and the unique price and …
Cider apple cultivars
The question of what constitutes a ‘cider apple’ often comes up in conversations among cideries, growers, and consumers. The simplest definition for a cider apple is an apple that goes into cider. However, that definition masks the interests in diversifying the apples cultivars grown for cider making.
The vast majority of apples used in cider in the U.S. are second-grade fruit from dessert cultivar orchards. In the northeast, it is common for the dominant cultivars ‘McIntosh’, ‘Empire’, ‘Cortland’, and similar …
The economics of growing cider apples
The profitable production of cider apples requires an understanding of production costs, expected yields, and realistic price expectations for cider fruit. Two scenarios can substantially affect the underlying economics of growing cider apples: growing apples for making cider within the same or an affiliated business, versus growing cider apples for sale to a separate cidery.
For growers who seek to supply fruit for their own cidermaking, the returns from that fruit must be considered in the overall context of operating …
What are cider apples?
The intentional production of cider apples differs from the tradition of diverting lower-grade fruit of dessert cultivars, e.g., ‘McIntosh’, ‘Empire’, ‘Honeycrisp’, etc., from fresh markets to an on-farm or third-party cider mill. For the purposes of this guide, “cider apples” refers to apples intentionally grown for the purpose of making cider. Likewise, “cider” in this case refers to fermented, alcoholic apple juice and products made from it. While the majority of juice that is made into cider in New England …