New Apple Varieties for Michigan Hard Cider Production

Research Date
Steve Van Nocker
New Varieties
Crop Categories
Beverage Categories

The hard cider industry in Michigan and throughout the United States has been growing

rapidly, and now represents a significant portion of the craft beverage sector. The

highest quality hard ciders are made from specialized varieties of apple called cider

apples. These differ from common, culinary apples by containing very high levels of

sugars, acids, and/or phenolics (tannins). Currently, apples high in sugar (e.g.

‘Honeycrisp’) are readily available, but apples with high acids and especially high

tannins are in very short supply. Numerous growers have tried planting some of the

traditional, famous cider apple varieties in Michigan, but most have not produced well

under Michigan conditions, due to frost, low winter temperatures, premature fruit drop,

and diseases such as fire blight. Michigan cider producers need reliable and quality

sources of apples, and growers who want to initiate or expand cider apple operations

need reliable information about which existing varieties will be most profitable. In

addition, the Michigan industry badly needs new varieties with traits optimized for our

climate, including late bloom that escapes spring frosts, cold hardiness, retention of

ripened fruit, and disease resistance. Finally, as hard cider becomes firmly established

in the U.S., consumers are demanding more diversity in taste and style. Red ciders are

becoming very popular, and novel, red-juiced apple varieties present an attractive

opportunity for Michigan growers and producers. This project directly addresses the

MCBC FY22 Research Priority “New varieties for hops, fruit, barley, rye, or other

agricultural inputs that are used in craft beverage production and are well-suited to be

grown in Michigan”.

View: Final Technical Report upload (PDF)

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