Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study reveals promise for expanding hard cider industry

14.11.2014

A new study by researchers at Washington State University shows that mechanical harvesting of cider apples can provide labor and cost savings without affecting fruit, juice or cider quality.

The study, published in the journal HortTechnology in October, is one of several focused on cider apple production in Washington state. It was conducted in response to growing demand for hard cider apples in the state and nation.


An over-the-row small fruit harvester passes over cider apple trees at WSU Mount Vernon. (Photos by Carol Miles, WSU)


Bruising from mechanically harvesting cider apples did not affect fruit or juice quality.

Quenching a thirst

Hard cider consumption is trending steeply upward in the region surrounding food-conscious Seattle, and Washington is part of the nation’s hard cider revival. The amount of cider produced in the state tripled between 2007 and 2012.

The rapid expansion means cider apple growers are hard pressed to keep pace with demand. Because cider apples are smaller than dessert apples – the kind we find in the grocery store for fresh eating – it takes longer to harvest them. In fact, harvest labor can account for nearly half of the annual costs of an orchard in full production.

Regions like the Skagit Valley in western Washington that don’t have large-scale commercial apple production lack experienced apple harvest crews.

“We simply don’t have a dedicated agricultural labor market in western Washington,” said horticulturalist Carol Miles, the lead author of the study. “High quality and affordable labor to hand-harvest cider apples is difficult to come by and costly.”

Miles leads one of a handful of cider apple research programs in the nation, located at the WSU Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center.

Over-the-row harvesting

Mechanical harvest is a logical solution to this challenge – except for two complications. First, such a machine doesn’t exist for apples, which are generally grown in compact trellis systems, hand-picked and carefully handled to avoid bruising.

The other issue is that mechanical harvest is likely to damage fruit, but just what this means for the final product is unknown.

To address the first challenge, Miles and her team used a mechanical raspberry harvesting machine to pick Brown Snout cider apples, a variety grown at the research center. The machine passes over fruit trees that are no higher than six feet, knocking the apples from trees onto a conveyer belt for collection by workers into tote bins.

Researchers assessed the level of damage to the trees and tested the fruit to see what impact, if any, bruising had on fruit and juice quality.

Olive harvester might be suitable

The two-year study showed that machine harvesting required up to four times less labor than hand harvesting, resulting in an average cost savings of $324 per acre. Bruising did occur on all of the fruit, but it didn’t affect the quality of fruit or juice – whether the apples were processed immediately or cold-stored for two to four weeks before pressing.

Miles noted that modifications to the small fruit mechanical harvester could further improve efficiencies for apple harvest. She dreams of one day testing an olive harvester, which can pass over trees that are 10-12 feet tall – the common height for modern apple orchards.

If suitable equipment is available and affordable, then mechanical harvesting could be just what the industry needs to expand and keep up with demand for locally grown cider apples.

Learn more about cider research and education at WSU at http://bit.ly/1psgmBD .

The paper in HortTechnology is: Yield, Labor and Fruit and Juice Quality Characteristics of Machine and Hand-harvested ‘Brown Snout’ Specialty Cider Apple. Carol A. Miles and Jaqueline King. HortTechnology October 2014 24:519-526.

Contacts:
Carol Miles, WSU Department of Horticulture, 360-848-6150, milesc@wsu.edu
Sylvia Kantor, WSU College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences, 206-770-6063, kantors@wsu.edu

Sylvia Kantor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://news.wsu.edu/2014/11/12/study-reveals-promise-for-expanding-hard-cider-industry/#.VGYX82F0zcu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New gene for atrazine resistance identified in waterhemp
24.02.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

nachricht Researchers discover a new link to fight billion-dollar threat to soybean production
14.02.2017 | University of Missouri-Columbia

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>