Progress report for ONC20-075
This project brings together a team of researchers, extension personnel, and family orchard operations for the purpose of establishing optimal practices in the production of Rosé cider from sustainable berry crops. The proposed effort is in recognition of the strong growth in the Rosé cider market segment and a desire from our industry partners to meet this demand without adopting intensive fungicide and insecticide programs. Project efforts will be multi-level, involving extension programming, applied research trials, and community networking for local growers.
Extension activities will include the 2023 Ohio Cider Field Day, tentatively located at Ransom Sage Farm, and a series of showcase events to build the Ohio cider industry. Research trials will relate to identifying pest and disease thresholds for berry fruit, such as Black Currants, destined for cider production, as opposed to fresh consumption. The other focus will be to establish optimal processing and blending techniques for Rosé cider. Community outreach, through an expansion of the Ohio Hard Cider Guild, will provide networking opportunities for growers and cider producers seeking to venture into the market for fruit ciders.
- Provide best practice guidance to Midwestern fruit growers on berry cultivation for the production of Rosé cider.
- Evaluate and compare red fleshed apples and various berry fruits on the basis of hard cider quality metrics.
- Determine optimal processing and blending techniques for Rosé cider production from various fruit sources
- Expand networking opportunities for cider-focused fruit growers through Field Days, Workshops, and participatory evaluation events.
Our project has set up a black currant plot at the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station. This planting will enable the demonstration of usage of black currants as a low spray crop for cider production in Ohio. We have selected varieties of varying levels of resistance to White Pine Blister Rust. This is a key pest and potential limitation to the use of Black Currant as a low spray crop in cider. Our project has done various blending trials with Rose' cider to educate producers about Rose' cider. A collaborator, Matthew Moser Miller has been identified to assist with additional Rose' cider trials.
Juice for Rose' cider has been analyzed for total phenolics, sugar, and pH. These analyses are ongoing and have not been translated from raw data into a format which can be shared in a preliminary report. These samples include black currant juice samples from local orchards as well as the AARS planting, in addition to Rose' ciders with various sources of color source. These will constitute a survey-like summary of various types of Rose' yielding fruit crops, with technical notes on their suitability for use in cider-making.
The Ohio Cider Guild has conducted reviews of project ciders to provide feedback on their potential for commercialization. Field data on the berry crops has resumed in 2022, after delays relating to COVID-19 restrictions and reduced capacity. The AARS planing will yield data on yield, vegetative growth, and phenolics level for numerous varieties of Black Currant, new to Ohio.
Educational & Outreach Activities
This project made progress in 2021 and is securing a 1 year extension. We have done several virtual events and have planted a demonstration plot of black currants at the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station. In June 2020, Mr. Kirk delivered a presentation to the Ashtabula County Master Gardeners on the new Black Currant planting, and the horticultural attributes of the species. In April 2021, our group did a virtual cider showcase with members of the Ohio Cider Guild. The emphasis was on Rose' ciders, predominantly from Red Fleshed Apples. Our crew drove cider samples to locations throughout the state to facilitate a virtual tasting. The tasting was attended by 15 cider-makers from throughout the state. Ciders were evaluated and the participants and OSU team discussed technical notes regarding the processing decisions.
In February 2022, the OSU team highlighted work done by this project during a presentation at the 2022 Ohio Grape and Wine Conference, entitled "Update On Projects at the Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station". The aims of this project were discussed, with an emphasis on the connection with grape as a source of color in Rose' cider.
Mr. Kirk has done consultations for cidermakers and berry fruit growers throughout the state in 2021 and 2022, relating to this project. Many are growers of other crops who are considering entering into the cider industry and are interested in potential fruit sources. We are preparing for a major field day on this topic in 2023 and a series of smaller events in the meantime. Our records show 12 such consultations relating to this project, but names are not public as some of the growers are not yet open to the public for business.
AARS has hosted numerous groups at the research station to educate on black currants and other small berries, among other topics. These include the Ashtabula Career and Technical Campus, the Kent State-Ashtabula Enology Class, representatives from the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a member of the Ohio State Legislature, and various members of the local community.
We are in preparation for a major field day relating to this topic. There has not been an Ohio Cider Field Day before, which has made for a complicated planning process. The date is tentatively scheduled for early 2023.
We are continuing to build our sustainable hard cider program. This project will be an important piece, in that we're demonstrating the potential for Rose' cider to be made from alternative and environmentally friendly fruit sources. We plan to have a field day in 2022 which will be a highly impactful event that will reach a large number of growers. We intend to work with various colleagues to disseminate the results of our field trial efforts.