ORCHARD PRODUCTIVITY AND APPLE FRUIT QUALITY OF ORGANIC, CONVENTIONAL, AND INTEGRATED FARM MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
The first of two studies undertaken in this thesis analyzed Washington State?s organic apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) exports to the European Union (EU) as a case study of the internationalization of the organic marketplace. Washington?s organic apple plantings have grown exponentially and as a result price premiums, which traditionally offset the greater costs of production and motivated many Washington growers to certify their apple orchards, have shrunk. At the same time, demand for organic apples in the EU has been outpacing production, thus making EU member states the most important export market for Washington?s organic apples. However, an entanglement of regulatory bodies from around the world are involved in the certification of organic products, therefore making international sales very difficult. In this paper, I explored the expansion in the organic marketplace and the adjustments undertaken by growers, marketers, and regulatory agencies. As part of a long-term comparison of organic, conventional, and integrated apple farm management systems in the Yakima Valley of Washington State, the second study investigated the productivity and fruit quality of ?Gala? apples during the ninth and tenth growing seasons. We found that the technology available for the organic system limited suitable crop load management and, therefore, consistent yields. Pest and weed control and fertility management were more difficult to manage in the organic system, as they all appeared to contribute to its limited productivity. However, organic apples had 6-10 N higher flesh firmness than conventional apples, and 4-7 N higher firmness than integrated apples. Additionally, consumers consistently rated organic apples to be firmer and to have better textural properties. Few consistent results were found for fruit flavor as measured by soluble solids concentration or titratable acidity, and this was also reflected in consumer panels. Total antioxidant activity was 10-15% higher in organic apples than conventional apples and 5-12% higher than integrated apples. The conventional and integrated apple farm management systems were more similar to each other than either was to the organic system throughout this study. Although organic apple production provided more management challenges than conventional systems, the superior quality of organic apples was a notable finding.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture May 2004
Washington State University
Natural foods; Organic; Integrated; Conventional; Apples; Malus domestica; Marketing; Washington State; European Union; Food industry and trade; International trade
Dissertation or Thesis