Industry-Supported Cider Apple Research commences at UVM

August 4, 2014

Since 2008, the hard cider industry nationwide has seen annual growth of over 50%, which presents a significant opportunity for apple growers to increase sales of fruit to that market. Vermont is a leader in the production of hard cider, as it is home to Vermont Hard Cider Company (makers of Woodchuck and other nationally-distributed ciders), as well as local and regional brands including Citizen, Champlain, Stowe, Flag Hill, Whetstone, and other cideries. In June, the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative announced funding for a project entitled: “Apple Market Optimization and Expansion through Value-Added Hard Cider Production.” The project is co-directed by UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Specialist Terence Bradshaw and Agricultural Economist Dr. David Conner with the goal of facilitating increased production of cider apples and purchases of fruit by local cideries. Partners in the project include Vermont Hard Cider, Champlain Cider, and Citizen Cider, as well as several growers.

Through this project we will:
• Develop the Vermont Cider Network collaboratively within VTFGA and the UVM Apple Program to facilitate collaboration between orchards and cideries;
• Develop understanding of production capacity for cideries and apple growers interested in growing cider apples;
• Conduct economic analysis of orchards to determine price points and overall feasibility of growing processing apples for multiple cultivars and orchard production systems, and;
• Identify presently-growing or unique apple cultivars that meet the needs of orchards and cideries via horticultural testing, juice quality assessment, and coordinated fermentation trials at commercial cideries.

This project represents an important investment in research and outreach by UVM College of Agriculture and Life Science, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, and Vermont Hard Cider Company, with in-kind matches from other cideries and participating growers. It also provides the opportunity to get professionals out to orchards representing all scales of operation throughout the state to provide technical assistance services.

Terence Bradshaw, UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Specialist

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The UVM Tree Fruit and Viticulture Program is supported by the University of Vermont Agriculture Experiment Station, a USDA NIFA E-IPM Grant, and USDA Risk Management Agency Funds.