New UC studies outline costs of producing apples and alfalfa hay

Mar 5, 2015

New studies on the cost and return of growing processing apples for juice and cider are available from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.  

The apple studies focus on production costs on the Central Coast, in the Freedom Region of the Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County. One study shows production costs for organically grown apples and the other for conventionally grown apples for processing into juice and cider.

The major differences between the two companion studies are in fertilizer, pest control, yield and farm gate price. 

A new cost and return study for growing alfalfa hay under subsurface drip irrigation is also available from UC ANR Cooperative Extension.

The alfalfa hay study focuses on stand establishment and production costs over a six-year stand life using subsurface drip irrigation in the Sacramento Valley and northern Delta.

Each analysis is based upon a hypothetical farm operation using practices common to the region. Input and reviews were provided by consultants, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisors, growers, pest control advisers, real estate appraisers and other agricultural associates. Assumptions used to identify current costs for individual crops, material inputs, cash and non-cash overhead are described. A ranging analysis table shows profits over a range of prices and yields. Other tables show the monthly cash costs, the costs and returns per acre, hourly equipment costs, and the whole farm annual equipment, investment and business overhead costs.

Sample Costs to Produce Processing Apples, Various Varieties, in the Central Coast-Freedom Region-Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County - 2014, Sample Costs to Produce Organic Processing Apples, Various Varieties, in the Central Coast-Freedom Region-Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz County - 2014, Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Alfalfa Hay in the Sacramento Valley and Northern Delta Using Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI)-2014 and other sample production-cost studies for many commodities are available online and can be downloaded from the UC Davis Agriculture & Resource Economics Department website at Some archived studies are also available at

For additional information or an explanation of the calculations used in these studies contact Karen Klonsky, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC Davis, at (530) 752-3589 or, or Don Stewart, staff research associate, at (530) 752-4651 or

For more than 100 years, University of California Cooperative Extension researchers and educators have been drawing on local expertise to conduct agricultural, environmental, economic, youth development and nutrition research that helps California thrive. UC Cooperative Extension is part of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Learn more at

By Don Stewart
Author - SRA Ag Issues Center