Pennsylvania Regional Organic Fruit Industry Transition

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $99,208.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Dr. Greg Krawczyk
PSU, Department of Entomology, FREC
James Travis
Penn State University Fruit Research and Extension

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples, general tree fruits


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, organic fertilizers, application rate management, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, compost extracts, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mating disruption, physical control, sanitation, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:


    This proposal seeks to improve the sustainability and profitability of small family apple farms through the implementation of sustainable and organic production practices and by differentiating apple products as certified organic. Key components include:

    The transition to organic production of three demonstration/research orchards managed by an ‘Orchard Management Transition Team’ on a grower farm utilizing the sites as case studies.

    The ‘Orchard Management Transition Team’ which is made up of local conventional IPM growers, experienced organic growers, the apple processor, university researchers and extension educators will direct the transition practices utilizing seasonal pest and production results, production options, economic factors and grower discussions.

    Growers will implement an educational model for networking and information sharing among the fruit growing industry and the ‘Orchard Management Transition Team.’

    Milestones: Five hundred tree fruit growers will learn of the orchard transition project in year one. In year one, 250 growers will inquire about sustainable and organic practices accessing multiple information delivery tools developed by the project, 150 growers will participate in on-farm case study discussions. By year two, 150 will increase implementation of sustainable practices and 15 will begin transition to organic.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 500 fruit farmers engaged in this project, 250 fresh and processing apple growers will increase their use of sustainable pest management and production methods and 30 will be transitioning from conventional IPM to organic production within three years of the start of this project.

    The tree fruit industry of Pennsylvania will maintain its sustainability, diversity and profitability through the increased implementation of sustainable production practices and the production of organically grown processing apples. Currently the viability and profitability of the tree fruit industry is dependent on fresh fruit, direct marketing and processing apple production. The transition to organic processing fruit production will provide an increased focus for the whole fruit industry on sustainable and organic practices. In addition, the transition will provide the means for processing fruit farmers to develop a value-added product while reducing the impact of conventional practices on their farm. Fruit farmers will participate in the development of sustainable practices and the organic transition production system through participatory, educational and orchard evaluation and discussion opportunities. Sustainable and organic fruit production will focus on the wise use of resources. This will result in the continued satisfaction with and operation of the multi-generation family farm with positive influences on their community and environment. In addition, healthful fresh fruit and processing apple products will be provided for the consumer.

    This target will be verified through communication, dialogue and surveys of growers who have increased sustainable practices or have organic certification documentation. In addition, the achievement of this goal will be recorded by the number of growers and acres in transition or certified as organic and ultimately the number of organic apples harvested and delivered to the processor.

    And, finally, a production line using solely PA organic apples will verify that the performance target has been met. A minimum of 100,000 bushels is needed to run an organic processing line at the processor (Mr. Ken Guise, President Knouse Foods). If each of the 30 growers transitions 5 acres of apples, producing 750 bushels per acre, there will be 112,500 bushels of organic apples to support a processing line.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.