Production, pesticide usage, and labor costs of apple farms in the Northeastern US and North China

WEIHONG FAN,RAYMOND MUELLER AND MICHAEL HOZIK
RICHARD STOCKTON COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY, USA
WEILI QIU, BEIJING NORMAL UNIVERSITY, BEIJING, CHINA

Abstract: Pest management practices of three apple farms in the US and China are evaluated for their economic and environmental sustainability. Although these three locations share similar environmental conditions and a reputation for apple production, the management strategies are driven by different factors. The conventional US apple grower manages his farm for maximum production and minimum labor cost. As a result, the farm achieves a high yield of 24.68 kg/dollar, but low health value of $2.43 for pesticide per 100 kg of apples. The organic apple farm aims at minimizing environmental impact and protecting consumers. Its yield is 14.22 kg/dollar with 15% – 30% greater labor cost and health value is $1.66 for pesticide per 100 kg of apples. Although far from being organic, the traditional apple farm in North China does pay considerable attention to consumer protection in their pest management practice. Whereas they use the same pesticides and their spray schedule is similar to a conventional farm, every fruit is manually bagged after petal fall to ensure pesticide free apples. They spend 1,365 hours/ha on bagging comparing to only 252 hours/ha of total labor spent in the conventional apple farm. Annual production of the Chinese farm is 22,727 kg/ha, which is only 50% of the conventional apple production and 71% of the organic apple production. We see a great potential for a much higher production on the Chinese apple farm if they redirect labor from bagging to an effort for production while still providing consumer protection. A new approach would increase economic effectiveness significantly as is evident on the organic farm. The benefit would be even more obvious in a Chinese apple farm given their low labor cost.
Keywords: organic farm, organic apple farm, Integrated pesticide management (IPM), apple production, Surround, Kaolin clay.

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