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.
- Increasing Organic Production: Where Are We Headed? D. Granatstein and E. Kirby., Washington State University
- Organic Apple Outlook: 2015/16 Market Update and 2016 Calendar Year Forecast. Miles, First Fruits Marketing of Washington. A great reference for those trying to understand the historical trends for organic tree fruit production in the state of Washington is the Status of Organic Tree Fruit in Washington State, WSU EM046E, 2012, by E. Kirby and D. Granatstein.
- 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 Statistics. WSU-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:
- Organic Tree Fruit Trends. D. Granatstein and E. Kirby, WSU
- US organic program equivalency. Linda Condon, WSDA Organic Food Program An organic buyer’s perspective. Peter LeCompte, Earthbound Farms Inc.
- An in-store assessment of consumer willingness to pay for organic apples. Nate Skuza, EWU.
- Life without antibiotics: understanding flower biology in the development of biologically-based integrate fire blight management strategies. Larry Pusey, USDA-ARS.
- Life without antibiotics: non-antibiotic systems approach to fire blight control. Ken Johnson, Oregon State University (file not available)
- Managing soil biology for multiple orchard benefits. Mark Mazzola, USDA-ARS.
- Management options: moving from headache to money maker. D. Granatstein, WSU.
- Making money through tree canopy management: crop load, fruit size, return bloom, and fruit finish. Tory Schmidt, WTFRC.
- Orchard system integration from the front line: true life experiences. Mike Robinson, Double Diamond Fruit Co.
December 2010 presentations:
- Current trends in organic tree fruit production. D. Granatstein and E. Kirby
- Habitat modification and conservation of biological control in organic orchards. T. Unruh
- Organic fertilizer panel.
- Survey of organic growers toolbox.
- Organic codling moth management in Washington and the world. A. Knight
- WSDA Organic program update. L. Eklund
- Managing soil microbial communities function in your orchard. J. Moore-Kucera
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.
- Wash. St. Hort Assoc. organic session December 2008
- G.S. Long organic grower meeting, January 2009
- G.S. Long organic grower meeting, January 2010
- Wilbur-Ellis organic grower meeting, February 2010
- G.S. Long organic grower meeting, January 2011
- Wilbur-Ellis organic grower meeting, February 2011
- Organic Tree Fruit Research Needs for Washington State. September 2003. Developed from a series of meetings with growers, WSU, USDA-ARS, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
- Native pollinator ecology and management. Gene Miliczky, USDA-ARS, Wapato, WA. Basic facts on native bees, classification, characteristics, and habitat needs
- 4th National Organic Tree Fruit Research Symposium proceedings. E. Lansing, Michigan, March 2007.
- 3rd National Organic Tree Fruit Research Symposium Proceedings. Chelan, WA, June 2005.
- Tree Fruit Production with organic farming methods, D. Granatstein, pdf manuscript
- Current Trends in Organic Tree Fruit Production, 2002, D. Granatstein and E. Kirby, pdf manuscript
- Trends in Organic Tree Fruit Production, 2001 D. Granatstein, presentation
- Trends in Organic Tree Fruit Production in Washington State – 1988-1999, D. Granatstein, EB1898E
- Organic Fruit Growers Association. Is more Midwest oriented.
- Eco-Fruit is a European group of researchers working on organic fruit production. They hold a conference every other year, and have reported on many studies. Proceedings in English are available on line
- Peshastin Creek Areawide Organic Pear Project. Link to the project description and extensive on-line insect monitoring results from this comparison of conventional, ‘soft’, and organic insect pest management.
David Granatstein, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Office Location: Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center, Wenatchee Office Ph: 509-663-8181 x222 Office Hours: by appointment