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 Cascading use is also beneficial for wood
11.12.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht The future of crop engineering
08.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>