( Photo courtesy North Bay Produce )

Growing apples organically is a daunting challenge for Michigan growers, but the industry is conducting a study to determine if the opportunities may outweigh the obstacles.

“Organic is definitely a challenge for our state because of we do have a lot of water and pests,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee

“But I will say that our industry is looking very, very hard at (growing organically) and we do have some acreage that’s being converted over to organics.”

The industry is conducting a feasibility study with Michigan State University to examine the price premium for organic apples, she said. The study will look at the potential benefits for growers if they were to convert their orchards to organic. That will help growers make informed decisions, she said.

“We’re hoping to have the results from that feasibility study done this fall,” she said. 

The study may help inform other needed research on how to mitigate pest and disease pressures, Smith said.

While previous analysis from about 10 years ago concluded organic apple growing wasn’t feasible in Michigan, Smith said it is time to look at the issue again.

“It’s definitely something that I think we need to look at again, and a lot has changed in the last 10 years,” she said.