Organic Apple Industry in California
What Has ANR Done?In 1990, several UC researchers across the state began to study an organic production system model for apples. They concentrated on use of new pheromone confusion technology for codling moth control. They also refined old systems for the use of various minerals, soaps, oils and resistant varieties for control of diseases and aphids that were limiting organic production. Many trials were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of organically approved calcium materials for the control of bitter pit; for various types of mulches and cultivation to control weeds; for the use of biological control methods; and for meeting the crop's nutritional requirements with compost and cover crops. Scientific research was also conducted for the evaluation of new disease resistant varieties and their economic potential in the organic market. After 10 years of work, the organic apple production system was well documented in the DANR publication # 3403 - Organic Apple Production Manual. Several short courses and field meetings were conducted throughtout the state to present the results of the UC research to growers.
Reliable organic apple production now possible in CaliforniaGrowers now have a well-documented, successful organic apple production system based primarily on UC's years of research. They can grow apples organically using new disease-resistant varieties with good flavor and a high demand in the market. The organic pest control strategy has eliminated the use of all conventional pesticide materials. The fertility program using compost and cover crops can supply all the needs of an organic apple orchard at a relatively low cost. More growers have been able to remain in business with a specialty organic product during a period of worldwide overproduction of apples. They have been able to switch to an organic system without risking significant crop losses and with only a slightly higher cost of production. Organic apples still receive a premium in the market, with a price that is 2 to 3 time higher than conventional apples.
Supporting Unit: Sonoma CountyPaul Vossen, UCCE, 2604 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95403 (707) 565-2621