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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1137: International Symposium on Innovation in Integrated and Organic Horticulture (INNOHORT)

Long-term economic evaluation of five cultivars in two organic apple orchard systems in Vermont, USA, 2006-2013

Authors:   T.L. Bradshaw, L.P. Berkett, R.E. Moran, M.E. Garcia, H.M. Darby, R.L. Parsons, S.L. Kingsley-Richards, M.C. Griffith, S.C. Bosworth, J.H. Görres
Keywords:   'Ginger Gold', 'Honeycrisp', 'Liberty', 'Macoun', 'Zestar!', net present value, top-graft, input costs, cultivar evaluation
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1137.44
Apple growers may use several training systems to establish orchards intended for organic management, including the planting of new nursery trees and top-grafting existing orchards to convert to selected cultivars. Long-term economic analysis of certified organic orchard systems is critical to evaluate potential profitability of the enterprise. The overall objective of this project was to evaluate long-term economic performance of five apple cultivars ('Ginger Gold', 'Honeycrisp', 'Liberty', 'Macoun', and 'Zestar!') grown in a newly planted orchard (Orchard 1) and in a top-grafted established orchard (Orchard 2). Actual management costs including labor, equipment, and inputs costs were recorded, and commercial grades for fruit and projected net income ha-1 for each cultivar for each system were assessed over the study period. There were few differences among cultivars for the percentage of fruit in each grade. Mean separation of fruit grade distribution within each cultivar was variable, and in Orchard 2, three of the cultivars (i.e., 'Ginger GoldR', 'Liberty', and 'Macoun') had the highest percentage of fruit in the US#1 Count grade, with 'Honeycrisp' fruit distributed equally into US#1 Count, Utility and Cull and with 'Zestar!' having no difference in % of fruit into US#1 Count and Utility grades. All cultivars in Orchard 1 had negative net present value (NPV) after 20 years. In Orchard 2, 'Ginger Gold' attained positive NPV in Year 3, 'Liberty' in Year 5, and 'Honeycrisp' in Year 7, and 'Macoun' and 'Zestar!' in Year 8. Income calculations, which incorporate disease and arthropod impacts through fruit grade and horticultural performance through crop yield, and the long-term economic projections provide comprehensive information which apple growers can use to determine which cultivars and orchard system would be best for their organic enterprise.

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