Organic Apple Production Grows in Iowa

Kathleen Delate, Faculty, Agronomy & Horticulture Departments


Organic apple production constitutes one of the most intensively managed systems in organic agriculture because of the need to monitor and manage several pests, including codling moth, plum curculio, apple maggot, apple scab, and cedar apple rust. Minimal information was available in Iowa to assist producers who requested trainings to rapidly acquire knowledge and skills to develop organic apple production protocols.


  1. Organize meetings of professional experts in organic apple production to determine best methods for managing insects and diseases in Iowa
  2. Establish on-farm sites to evaluate organic apple production in Iowa
  3. Evaluate alternative pest management methods to increase organic apple production in Iowa
  4. Disseminate information on organic apple production to commercial and home audiences


The Iowa State University Extension Organic Ag Program organized the first Organic Fruit Crops Colloquium at the American Society of Horticultural Sciences conference in July 2006 to convene pertinent researchers across the U.S. to inform Midwest organic apple growers. In addition, Dr. Delate served on the planning committee and was a keynote speaker at the Third International Organic Tree Fruit Conference at Michigan State University in March 2007, where over 100 participants, including Iowa growers, gathered to review the latest research results to aid their operations. Iowa growers identified a research agenda that will be used to inform federal funding agencies as they develop calls for proposals in 2007. An Extension publication, Producing and Processing Organic Apples, was also developed to assist growers.


Results of this research and extension program included disseminating information to 200 clientele through presentations at extension meetings and conferences. For farmers utilizing organic practices, savings from avoiding petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides in growing organic crops will result in input cost savings of $300/acre.

Results of these efforts also include a reduction in persistent pesticides, disallowed in organic production; lower nitrate pollution as a result of less highly mobile nitrogen applied to orchards; increased beneficial insect populations from less pesticides; and increased income from organic premiums for certified fruit.

130 Commercial and Consumer Horticulture

Page last updated: August 2, 2007
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