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Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Organic Apples

 

By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University.

Revised December 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.
 

Overview

In 2008, 488.2 million pounds of organic apples were raised on more than 20,000 acres in the United States. According to the Organic Production Survey, more than 1,150 farms raised organic apples. The crop was valued at $136.8 million in 2008.
 
Washington state was the largest producer of organic apples in 2008 with a crop valued at $118.9 million. California was number two in the United States with a crop valued at $6.5 million.
 
Marketing

According to USDA, certified organic means "agricultural products have been grown and processed according to specific standards of various state and private certification organizations." Certifying agents review farm applications and qualified inspectors conduct annual on-site inspections. Farm records track all management practices and materials used in organic production.

Except for operations with gross agricultural incomes of $5,000 or less, USDA-accredited certifying agents must certify farm and processing operations that grow and process organic foods. A certified operation must have a written Organic Farm Plan made available to the public upon request. The USDA Organic Seal may appear on organic apples and other 100 percent organic products, signs or advertising.

Exports and Imports

Records are now available for exported and imported organic apples.
 
In 2012 the United States exported 76,483 metric tons (MT) of fresh organic apples valued at nearly $99.8 million. Both organic apple volume and value experienced triple digit increases. Mexico ranks as the top export market for U.S. organic apples, followed by Canada. Other significant export markets for organic apples are Israel, United Kingdom and Hong Kong.  (FAS)
 
Fresh organic apple imports totaled 13,221 MT in 2012, up 92 percent from the previous year and were valued at more than $12.1 million, a 111 percent increase from 2011. The leading supplier was Chile.  (FAS)


 
Sources

Fresh Market Apples, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2005 - This report reviews the fresh apple market in the United States.

Organic Production Survey, U.S. Census of Agriculture, USDA, 2008.


Marketing

  • Alternative Markets for Fruit: Organic and IFP (Integrated Fruit Production), Washington State University, Wanatchee - This document reviews two major market niches, organic foods and fruit, from Integrated Fruit Production.
  • Consumers Willing to Pay a Premium for Organic Produce, Amber Waves, ERS, USDA, 2009.
  • Fruits and Tree Nuts, ERS, USDA - This government portal provides general information and statistics on the U.S. fruits and nut tree industries.
  • Marketing Organic Apples Successfully, University of California-Davis, Small Farm Center, 1998 - This online page provides an overview to selling organic apples such as costs, processing and certification.
  • National Fruit and Vegetable Organic Summary, Ag Marketing Service (AMS), USDA - This daily report provides terminal market prices in major U.S. cities, shipping point prices, movement, and national and regional retail prices of organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Organic Demand: A Profile of Consumers in the Fresh Produce Market, Choices magazine,  2007 - This article did not find positive association between household income and expenditures on organic produce.
  • Organic Farming and Marketing, ERS, USDA - This site provides a wealth of statistics related to organic products.
  • Organic Price Report, Rodale Institute - This online tool tracks selected prices from the fruit, vegetable, herbs and grain sectors, comparing organic prices to conventional prices in markets across the country.
  • PlantFacts, Ohio State University - This website provides a full-text search engine of all extension and academic department information from all land-grant universities in the United States. Additionally, there are significant image and video databases, an FAQ database, and a glossary.
  • Virtual Orchard - This site is dedicated to sustainable apple production. It provides marketing and production information for commercial growers.

Production

  • Apples: Organic Production Guide, ATTRA, National Sustainable Ag Information Service, 2011 - This publication focuses on the aspects of organic apple production that differ from nonorganic practices—primarily pest and disease control, marketing and economics.
  • Characteristics of Conventional and Organic Apple Production in the United States, ERS, USDA, 2011 - This report uses data from USDA’s 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and other sources to examine trends in the U.S. apple sector and compare production and marketing characteristics under organic and conventional farming systems.
  • Considerations in Organic Apple Production, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2001 -  This 24-page online organic guide reviews differences in organic systems between the East Coast and West Coast of the United States.
  • Cost Estimates of Establishing and Producing Organic Apples in Washington, Washington State University Extension, 2011 - Washington leads the nation in the production of certified organic apples with an estimated 74 percent of total U.S. organic apple acreage as of 2009. The per acre cost of producing certified organic apples is estimated at $11,407 in the scenario described for this budget, compared to $10,757 for conventional Gala apples using a similar production scenario and 2009 input costs.
  • A Grower’s Guide to Organic Apples, Cornell University and New York, 2009 - This production guide compiles information from university research trials to help organic apple growers produce the highest quality fruit possible while using organic techniques and systems.
  • Growing Organic Apples: World class production systems for new Australian apple varieties, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia, 2008 - This organic apple production guide details strategies for successful organic production of scab-resistant apples in Australia.
  • Integrated Pest Management, University of Vermont Apple Orchard.
  • Organic and Integrated Fruit Production, Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Education Center - This Web site provides resources related to integrated and organic fruit production.
  • Organic Apples, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, 2012.
  • Organic Apple Production Manual, University of California - This manual includes guidelines useful for apple growers considering organic production and certification. Visit the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources online catalog to order.
  • Organic Apple Spray Schedule, University of Massachusetts,  Amherst.
  • Planning the Organic Orchard, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) - This fact sheet is written for the commercial tree fruit grower in the Upper Midwest planning at least one half-acre of orchard.
  • Practical Guide for Organic Apple Production, OrganicA Project, University of Vermont, University of Maine and University of Arkansas, 2012 - This guide shares the authors' experiences and knowledge about organic apple production in New England to give commercial growers a multimedia resource about the challenges and opportunities of growing apples organically.

Businesses/Case Studies

  • Ela Family Farms, Hotchkiss, Colorado - For four generations, this family has grown fruit in western Colorado. They converted the farm to certified organic production in 1994. Current organic crops include tree fruits like apples, cherries, peaches and pears as well as organic strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
  • Muhlbeier Orchards, Eltopia, Washington - This family-run farm raises organic fuji apples. Apples are shipped in boxes directly to consumers.
  • Rocky Mountain Fruit, western Colorado - Offers tree-ripened, certified organic apples and pears from several family farms. Fruit is shipped in 10-pound gift boxes. 


Links checked July 2013.

Related Links

Organic Fruit and Tree Nuts Harvested from Certified and Exempt Organic Farms: 2008, 2008 Organic Production Survey, National Ag Statistics Service, USDA, 2010.

Organic Industry Trends

 

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