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 Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli
26.04.2017 | University of the Basque Country

nachricht New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>