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2015 Cost Estimates of Establishing and Producing Red Raspberries in Washington State

2015 Cost Estimates of Establishing and Producing Red Raspberries in Washington State

Suzette Galinato, Research Associate, IMPACT Center, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, Lisa DeVetter, Assistant Professor, Small Fruit Horticulture, WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center, Mount Vernon, WA
If you’re thinking of producing red raspberries in Washington State, this publication can be a very valuable resource. Designed to enable growers to estimate costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor as well as ranges of price and yield, this publication helps evaluate the feasibility and profitability of establishing and producing red raspberries.
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Preface

The results presented in this WSU publication serve as a general guide for evaluating the feasibility of producing red raspberries in Washington State as of 2015. This publication is not intended to be a definitive guide to production practices, but it 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 red raspberry operations depending on the following factors:

  • Capital, labor, and natural resources
  • Crop yields
  • Cultivar (‘Meeker’ was assumed for this study)
  • Type and size of machinery and irrigation systems
  • Input prices
  • Cultural practices
  • Red raspberry prices
  • Size of the farm operation
  • Management skills

Cost estimations in the enterprise budget also vary depending on their intended use. To avoid drawing unwarranted conclusions for any particular field or grower operation, readers must closely examine the assumptions made in this guide, and then adjust the costs, returns, or both as appropriate for their own operation.

Red Raspberry Production in Washington State

Washington State is a leading producer of processed red raspberry (Rubus idaeus). In 2014, red raspberry growers in the state produced approximately 72.8 million pounds of red raspberries that were valued at $57.7 million (NASS 2015). Commercial production is concentrated in western Washington, with growers in Whatcom County representing approximately 93% of production (WRRC 2015). The majority of the fruit is transformed into processed products, including individually quick frozen (IQF) fruit, purees, and juices. Fruit that is processed into an IQF product retains the most value for growers.

Red raspberries grown in Washington are predominately the floricane-fruiting type. This type of red raspberry produces fruit early-to-mid summer, which is why floricane-fruiting

raspberries are also referred to as “summer-bearing” raspberries. Canes may reach an overall height of 6 to 13 feet, which necessitates a trellising system. Fruit is produced on the laterals of second-year floricanes and the fruiting season is largely influenced by cultivar. Yield also depends on cultivar, age of the planting, incidence of diseases, horticultural management practices, and environmental factors. The typical yield of red raspberry fields in Washington is 6,500 to 7,500 pounds per acre, but can exceed 10,000 pounds per acre.

In addition to floricanes, floricane-fruiting raspberries also produce primocanes. Primocanes are the first-year canes that are strictly vegetative, form flower initials under cooler conditions and short days, and overwinter to become flower- and fruit-producing floricanes. Therefore, a typical commercial planting of red raspberries in Washington has a mixture of both primocanes and floricanes after the first year of planting. After fruit production, floricanes begin to senesce and are selectively pruned out in the fall and winter. Pruning typically occurs from October through February, but the timing of pruning can be influenced by the availability of labor. Once floricanes are removed, the primocanes are trained to the top wire and arced to facilitate machine harvesting.

Production practices vary based on the size and philosophy of a grower operation. However, pest and disease management is a critical component of commercial production and entails use of protective pesticides to ensure a high-quality crop. Fungicides are used primarily to protect against fruit rots, such as Botrytis fruit rot caused by Botrytis cinerea. Another pest challenge shared among raspberry growers is spotted winged drosophila (Drosophila suzukii), or SWD. This pest was introduced in 2009 and lays eggs in ripening fruit. These eggs hatch and produce larvae that destroy the value of the fruit. The introduction of SWD has caused significant changes in insect management programs among red raspberry growers. Root rots are another challenge for red raspberry growers on heavier and slower-draining ground and are managed through pre-plant soil fumigation and application of fungicides. Weeds are also managed through application of herbicides and cultivation in alleyways. Contact herbicides are used for primocane suppression (also called “cane-burning”), which is the practice of removing the first few flushes of primocanes in the spring. This practice is believed to contribute to greater yields through reducing competition between emerging primocanes and flower or fruit producing floricanes.

Growers vary in their fertility and irrigation regimes. However, most growers apply granular fertilizers pre-planting and early in the growing season. Additional nutrient supplementation

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