2014 Cost Estimates of Establishing, Producing, and Packing Fuji Apples in Washington State

2014 Cost Estimates of Establishing, Producing, and Packing Fuji Apples in Washington State

Suzette Gallinato, Research Associate, IMPACT Center, School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, R. Karina Gallardo, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, School of Economic Sciences, Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center, Puyallup, WA
If you’re thinking of producing Fuji apples 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 producing Fuji apples grown under two types of trellis systems: angled and spindle.
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Preface

The results presented in this publication serve as a general guide for evaluating the feasibility of producing Fuji apples grown under two types of trellis systems—angled and spindle—in Washington State as of 2014. 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 budget 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 their 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, returns, or both as appropriate for their own orchard operation.

Fuji Production in Washington State

According to the latest tree fruit acreage report, Fuji has been in the top three dominant apple varieties produced in Washington State between 1993 and 2011, following Red Delicious and Gala in terms of production acreage (USDA-NASS 2011). In 2011, acres planted to Fuji represented 17% of the state’s total apple acreage. Thirty-eight percent of all Fuji bearing acres are located in the Columbia Basin, 36% in the Yakima Valley, 19% in Wenatchee, and 7% in other areas. In the 2013–2014 marketing seasons, Fuji accounted for 13% of total fresh apple shipments from Washington State (WSTFA 2015).

Study Objectives

This publication is designed to enable growers to estimate: (1) the costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor required to establish and produce a Fuji orchard under two trellis systems—spindle and angled—and (2) the ranges of price and yield at which Fuji apple 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 Fuji 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.

Information Sources

The data used in this study were gathered from a group of experienced Fuji apple 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 area 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 are encouraged to use the Excel Workbook provided to estimate their own costs and returns.

Budget Assumptions

  1. The area of the total farm operation is 300 acres. Bearing acres include: 225 acres of apples (75% of total area), 48 acres of sweet cherries (16%), and 27 acres of pears (9%).
  2. This budget is based on a 21­acre block within a 300­acre diverse cultivar orchard. It is assumed that one acre of this block is not used for the direct production of tree fruit; rather, it is dedicated to roads, a pond, a loading area, and the like. Therefore, the total productive area for this block is 20 acres. Table 1FA and Table 1FS show the assumed Fuji block specifications with angled and spindle training systems, respectively. The only differences are in the architecture and spacing of planted trees and, thus, the tree density. Under the angled trellis system, the tree density is 1,452 trees per acre; while under the spindle trellis system, it is 1,089 trees per acre.

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