The first CiderCon was held in the Pacific Northwest. It was organized to give the commercial cider industry an outlet to meet, share ideas, collaborate, and affect positive changes in cidermaking, cider fruit production, the cider market and cider regulations. The conference was designed to help new cider producers discuss and exchange ideas on practices, innovations, and trends to provide the foundation for a strong and diverse cider industry in the U.S.
The educational component of the conference has grown over the past four years. This year, there were four tracts from which participants could choose: cider making, business, marketing/sales, and academic/orchards.
Michigan State University participated in the academic tract where ongoing research efforts on hard cider varieties planted at the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center were discussed. The future research needs of cider producers were also addressed. In collaboration with Washington State University, Virginia Tech, and University of Vermont, Michigan State University will submit a USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) pre-proposal outlining new projects that will support this new and growing industry.
Dr. Nikki Rothwell is the District Horticulturist and NWMHRC Coordinator at Michigan State University’s extension office in Bingham township.