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Florence A. Becot, Terence L. Bradshaw and David S. Conner

Hard cider production has increased annually by 50% between 2009 and 2014 in the United States while apple (Malus × domestica) orchards managed exclusively for cider apples are rare. Cider apples have unique flavor, acid, and tannin characteristics suited to only hard cider production. Demand for fruit by cider makers represents an emerging market for apple growers and an opportunity to diversify their production and marketing systems. The goal of this study was to compare the fruit requirements of cider makers with present cider fruit availability in orchards to identify opportunities and challenges for the growth of both industries, and we surveyed cider makers and apple growers. Growers in our study saw a market expansion opportunity in the growth of popularity of hard cider, but present apple prices were identified as a key threat. Cider makers are also expanding their operations, all of those sampled anticipate increasing their production in the next five years, but maintaining adequate fruit supply was identified as a major threat. Cider makers and apple growers have both expressed interest in dual-purpose cultivars that may be sold to the fresh market or for cider making. Apple growers have expressed guarded interest in growing specialty cider cultivars while cider makers have expressed a strong interest in increased production of cider-specific cultivars. We conclude that there are a number of potentially beneficial opportunities, particularly in increased production of dual-purpose and specialty cider cultivars, as long as price and coordination issues can be resolved.