Grow Cider Apples for Profit

Cider apples are utilized in multiple business avenues, making them a versatile income idea that can get you involved in industries like hard apple cider, apple cider and apple cider vinegar.

Market research estimates that revenues from just apple cider vinegar will reach over one billion dollars by 2026.  According to American Agriculturist:

“Cider is the U.S. beverage industry’s fastest-growing segment, according to the IRI market research firm. From 2013 to 2014, cider sales grew 75.4%. Over the past three years, sales have quintupled.”

In the current DIY health boom, any product with as many health benefits as apple cider vinegar is likely to see increasing growth, and cider apples are a product you can use and believe in.  High demand and a wide variety of use and market potentials make growing cider apples a business worth looking into.

Initial Investment Cost

According to a report from WSU, to start a cider apples business, you will need about $10,000 per acre, of which $5,700 is soil prep, tree costs and labor.  For most small farmers, we are our own labor, so that cost may not come out of your pocket, but it is a cost nonetheless.  This report factors all business costs,  including depreciation, overhead and interest.  Be sure to take a good look at each line item to decide what your own costs might be.

Space Required

One acre is sufficient to get started, or even half an acre if you want to test the waters.  Take a realistic look at what labor you have available, along with time and startup funds.  Most importantly, are there other uses for that land that will suit your circumstances and goals better?

Cider Apples: Turnaround Time

The turnaround time for cider apples is one of the major barriers to entry.  This also means you will have less competition, which may offset the time if you can wait for a payoff.  Years 1-2 will see no production, while years 3-5 will ramp up to full production, meaning your total turnaround time is 5 years from planting.

Daily Time Requirements

Cider apples are a seasonal business.  You will have surges in time spent during the on season, particularly during harvest and pruning.  ONFruit estimates 100 man hours per acre in labor per season.  This averages out to less than 30 minutes per day, but it will be concentrated to spring and fall.

Profit Potential for Cider Apples

Like any grown crop, there can be high variability in production and revenues.  ResearchGate has a report that states:

“For a fully established cider apple orchard, a producer would expect about $2,400 per acre of net returns based on a yield of 46 bins/acre at $315/bin, and the break-even return was estimated at $263/bin ($0.29 per lb)
(PDF) Cost Estimation of Establishing a Cider Apple Orchard in Western Washington. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267353730_Cost_Estimation_of_Establishing_a_Cider_Apple_Orchard_in_Western_Washington [accessed Nov 30 2018].”

Potential Markets

Markets are ever increasing for cider apples.  You can look to hard cider manufacturers, cider producers and apple cider vinegar producers to sell your entire harvest wholesale.  If you have the facilities, you can create your own artisan cider production facility and market direct to consumers.

Learn More about Cider Apples

Growing cider apples can certainly be part or all of a small farm’s income.  As demand continues to increase, so too does the opportunity to find strong markets for all of your harvest.  With enough land, cider apples could be a full time income without a full time work schedule, because working less means enjoying life more!

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