Cover of bulletin.

Bulletin E3474
Michigan Tart Cherry Cost of Production Study 2022


December 6, 2022 - <>, Cherry Marketing Institute; <> and <>, ; and Jim Nugent, MSU District Horticulturalist, Emeritus

This cost of production study for Michigan tart cherries, conducted by specialists at Michigan State University (MSU) Extension and the Cherry Marketing Institute, is based on information gathered at a grower focus group meeting, numerous grower spray records, third-party data, and information provided from input and service suppliers. The majority of tarts are grown in Northwest Michigan. Based on the area’s 7,733-pound yield average, costs related to the operation and harvest of bearing tart cherry acreage are currently 26.5 cents/lb, and costs related to orchard establishment and land control are an additional 12.6 cents/lb. Including tart cherry assessments of about 1.17 cents/lb, this leads to an overall cost of 40 cents/lb.

However, when applying the average Michigan yield of 7,043 pounds to our cost findings, operation and harvest costs add up to 28.8 cents/lb and orchard establishment and land control costs another 13.9 cents/lb, for a total of 44 cents/lb after assessments. To this calculation, we add the caveat that the growers involved in our study tend to have higher than average yields, and our total cost data may well be higher than the average farmer’s as well.

Based on spray application records, we found that crop protection costs were similar to those from the previous cost of production study, despite increased pest pressure from spotted wing drosophila. However, we hypothesize that this could be a result of growers being conservative with sprays during 2020 and 2021 due to knowledge of low yields due to spring freeze events. Harvest costs have dropped slightly, due to faster equipment.

Input costs are generally higher across the board and supply chain disruptions are often making input availability difficult. While many crop protection input costs have not changed substantially, some important protectants are difficult to find, and herbicides are scarce and expensive. Steel, crop protectant, equipment, and fertilizer suppliers are currently reluctant to give price quotes because prices are volatile and subject to change. Labor costs, especially hourly manual labor, are also high.



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