Organic Tree Fruit

Orchardists worldwide are increasing their use of organic and integrated production systems in response to consumer preferences and environmental imperatives. You can access resources related to integrated and organic fruit production on this webpage, including materials developed at Washington State University, as well as from other locations around the world. Many of the files are availabe in PDF format and can be opened and downloaded with Adobe Acrobat Reader software.

Tree Fruit Production

Organic tree fruit production in Washington State has grown dramatically in size and scope during the 1990s. Two main factors are responsible: steady growth in the markets for organic foods have maintained a premium price to growers, and growers considered organic production as a way to prepare for loss of production tools such as pesticides. The advent of pheromone mating disruption as an effective and available control technique for codling moth, the primary pest of apples in Washington, removed a major barrier to organic production. As a result, organic apple acreage has increased dramatically. Many growers are considering or implementing organic production to offset low apple prices in the conventional market. However, a major increase in supply of organic fruit could easily overshoot demand and depress organic fruit prices, as happened in 1990 after the Alar incident. The semi-arid climate of central Washington and other western states is particularly favorable for organic production of tree fruits. Most diseases, such as apple scab, are less problematic than in more humid regions. The organic food market is dynamic and growing. In Washington State, organic tree fruit production accounts for over half of the farmgate value of organic crops and livestock produced, and the state is the leading producer in the country of organic apples, pears, and cherries. WSU faculty work with industry and organic sector partners worldwide to monitor trends in organic tree fruit and to provide outlooks to growers and the industry to help them with their strategic decisions. The following two presentations were delivered in January 2016 and have been revised and annotated for use here. They contain data on the current organic apple situation in Washington along with projections of future supply, value, and price.

  • Innohort Proceedings Available. The International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) has an organic fruit work group that has sponsored a series of symposia on organic fruit production. The most recent was INNOHORT, held in June 2016 in Avignon, France, which also included organic vegetables. The previous 2nd International Organic Fruit Symposium was held in Leavenworth, WA, USA in June 2012 (see below). The two other meetings were the Organic Fruit Conference (June 2008, Vignola, Italy) and the 1st International Symposium on Organic Apples and Pears (February 2006, Wolfville, NS, Canada).
  • 2nd International Organic Fruit Research Symposium 2012. eOrganic conducted live broadcasts from the the 2nd International Organic Fruit Research Symposium in Leavenworth, Washington on June 19 and 21, 2012. The recorded presentations from this symposium will be of interest to researchers, Extension professionals, growers, consultants, suppliers, and retailers who wish to learn the latest developments in the worldwide organic fruit supply chain.  The proceedings is available on-line as Acta Horticulturae Volume 1137.   Presentation abstracts are also available.
  • Organic StatisticsWSU-CSANR produces annual updates on the status of organic agriculture in the state. A specific report on organic tree fruit is done as well, which often contains more in-depth information on national and global trends. In addition, periodic reports are published such as the article on “Global Situation for Organic Tree Fruits” (Scientia Hort. 208:3-12; 2016).
  • Organic Tree Fruit Management in the West: New concepts and techniques are featured in Organic Tree Fruit Pest Management in the West: Bringing New Science to Old Problems. The presentations from this symposium are now available on-line.
  • USDA Organic Program Handbook  The U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes a program handbook designed for those who own, manage, or certify organic operations. Prepared by the National Organic Program (NOP), the handbook provides guidance about the national organic standards and instructions that outline best program practices. It is intended to serve as a resource for the organic industry that will help participants comply with federal regulations.

Organic sessions at the Wash. St. Hort. Assoc. annual meetings

December 2011 presentations:

December 2010 presentations:

Organic Tree Fruit research priorities

Organic tree fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest participated in a series of real-time surveys of organic tree fruit problems, research needs, and priorities. The surveys were held during various educational meetings, using the Turning Point audience participation technology.  Overlap between meetings in a given year was less than 30% of the audience.  Survey questions were adjusted somewhat for each meeting, depending on the topic of interest. A number of questions were the same for all meetings.

Crop Management


More Resources

Contact Information

David Granatstein, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Email Address: Office Location: Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, Wenatchee Office Ph: 509-663-8181 x222 Office Hours: by appointment