The results presented in this WSU publication serve as a general guide for evaluating the feasibility of producing organic Gala apples in Washington as of 2014. This publication is not intended to be a definitive guide to production practices, but is helpful in estimating the physical and financial requirements of comparable plantings. Specific assumptions were adopted for this study, but these assumptions may not fit every situation since production costs and returns vary across orchard operations, depending on the following factors:
- Capital, labor, and natural resources
- Crop yields
- Type and size of machinery, irrigation and frost control systems
- Input prices
- Cultural practices
- Apple prices
- Orchard size
- Management skills
Cost estimations in the enterprise budget also vary depending on its intended use. To avoid drawing unwarranted conclusions for any particular orchard, readers must closely examine the assumptions made in this guide, and then adjust the costs and/or returns as appropriate for their own orchard operation.
Organic Gala Apple Production in Washington
Washington leads the nation in the production of certified organic apples, with 14,790 acres accounting for 9.7 % of Washington apple acres and 72% of the state’s total organic tree fruit acreage (Kirby and Granatstein 2012). Organic apple production is primarily based in central Washington east of the Cascade Mountains in commercial tree fruit growing districts. In particular, nearly two-thirds of certified apple acres are located in Grant, Douglas, and Yakima counties (Galinato et al. 2011). Gala has led organic apple varieties grown in Washington since 2003, followed by Red Delicious and Fuji. Organic Gala acreage represents 21% of the total certified organic apple acres in the state as of 2011 (USDA NASS 2011).
Washington organic apple exports were approximately 660,000 boxes in 2014-2015. Organic apple exports increased by 39% between 2007/08 and 2014/15 marketing seasons. Organic Gala apples accounted for approximately 39% of the total organic apple exports in 2014-2015 (Kirby and Granatstein 2015).
This publication is designed to enable growers to estimate: (1) the costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor required to establish and produce an organic Gala orchard; and (2) the ranges of price and yield at which certified organic Gala production would be a profitable enterprise.
The primary use of this report is in identifying inputs, costs, and yields considered to be typical of well-managed organic Gala orchards. This publication does not necessarily represent any particular orchard operation and is not intended to be a definitive guide to production practices. However, it describes current industry trends and, as such, can be helpful in estimating the physical and financial requirements of comparable plantings.
Sources of Information
The data used in this study were gathered from a group of experienced organic Gala growers in Washington. Their production practices and input requirements form the baseline assumptions that were used to develop the enterprise budget. Additionally, the data represent what these growers anticipate over an orchard’s life, if no unforeseen failures occur. Given that many factors affect production costs, pack-out, and returns, individual growers can use the Excel Workbook provided to estimate their own costs and returns.