UVM Food Systems Faculty awarded USDA Federal State Market Improvement Program grant to study apple production systems to support hard cider industry.
Hard cider is big business in Vermont and across the U.S., with average annual growth of over 50% nationwide for the past five years. However, little research has been conducted in the U.S. on costs of production for apples grown for hard cider production, opportunities to reduce inputs and change management practices in cider apple orchards, or economic impact of cider apple production systems. University of Vermont faculty Terence Bradshaw, Tree Fruit and Viticulture Specialist, and David Conner, Agricultural Economist, were awarded a multi-year, $75,000 USDA grant (“Orchard Economic Assessment to Support Vermont Hard Cider Production”) to conduct that research through collaborations with commercial apple growers and cideries in Vermont. Supporting partners providing matching funds include Vermont Hard Cider Company and Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association. Specific objectives of the project include: an evaluation of production costs to grow apples specifically for processing into hard cider; quantification of per-acre yield and fruit quality of cider-grown fruit in diverse orchard systems; identification of orchard management practices that may be modified to enhance profitability of cider apple production systems, and; calculation of economic impact on the cidery industry using different scenarios based on the results of the above objectives. The project builds on work presently being conducted by the investigators through a complementary project, “Apple Market Optimization and Expansion through Value-Added Hard Cider Production”, funded by the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. More information on the recent USDA awards can be found here and a list of FSMIP project awards is available here.