Cider Research


Cider Research Timeline at WSU

  • 1979: 6 cider apple varieties first planted at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC
  • 1983-1994: 20 varieties added and observations on productivity and disease pressure initiated
  • 1994: 70 cider apple varieties planted and data collection on juice and cider characteristics initiated
  • 2003: Low-trellised ‘Brown Snout’ planted and mechanization proof of concept study initiated
  • 2014-2016: 65 varieties planted on Geneva 935 rootstock in a replicated research orchard
  • 2017:  96 trees of ‘Ashmead’s Kernel’ planted on Geneva 11 rootstock in a replicated orchard for anthracnose canker studies
  • 2017: 300 trees (100 trees each of 3 varieties) planted on Geneva 202 rootstock in a replicated orchard to research cultural systems

WSU Cider Research

Cider apple varieties in our test orchards include those from France, England and old American cider varieties. Evaluation of these varieties includes:

  1. Juice analysis – °Brix, pH, malic acid, specific gravity, % tannin;
  2. Yield evaluation;
  3. Characterization of varietal ciders from 3–8 selected varieties per year.

Beginning In 2002, varietal ciders have been produced on-station using fruit from the trial, with the advice of an expert cider maker. The ciders are then sampled and evaluated for quality and marketability.

Variety Trial: Beginning in 2002, we have evaluated juice characteristics of the apple varieties planted in the WSU cider apple research orchard. Each year we select a few varieties and with the assistance of an expert cider maker we ferment each one separately to create a varietal cider, which is then evaluated by a trained sensory panel.

Regional Cultivar Performance: From 2012 to 2015, the juice characteristics of four cider cultivars (Brown Snout, Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill) were compared for 4 orchards, 2 located in northwest WA (Alpenfire & WSU NWREC) and 2 located in central WA (Snowdrift & Tieton).

Mechanical Harvest Proof of Concept: From 2011 to 2015, the suitability of using an over-the-row mechanical harvester to harvest ‘Brown Snout’ cider apple was evaluated in terms of impact on fruit, impact on juice, and impact on the trees. Evaluation of impact on cider characteristics is slated to begin in 2016.

Apple Anthracnose Management: From 2014 to present, the lifecycle and disease cycle of this fungal pathogen is being studied in western Washington. We are evaluating spray treatments and cultural practices (carving out cankers and applying bleach, burning, copper sprays) to control apple anthracnose.

Research Reports

Results of the trial are included in the following annual Reports:

2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003