Economic feasibility of using weather-altering technology on apple orchards in Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Apple producers in Virginia are affected by adverse weather factors which cause poor or lower than normal yields. These weather factors such as freeze kill of bloom and lack of rainfall cause decreases in production and, therefore, decreases in revenues received by apple producers. These weather factors, although they can not be completely controlled, can be altered by wind machines and overhead sprinkler systems. Therefore, the major purpose of the study was to determine if these types of weather-altering technologies could be economically feasible for use in Virginia.

The first step in determining the economic feasibility of the two systems was to determine which weather factors are effected by the adaptable technology stated above. This information was received from studies completed in Utah, Georgia, Florida, California, and Washington State.

The second step was to gather production data and weather data in the same general geographical location in Virginia to be used to develop a yield response equation and determine the weather variables which affect production. This information was then transferred to. a simulation model, which determined the values of the economic criteria used when making investment decisions.

The major findings of the study were: (1) that the overhead sprinkler system is the investment with the best economic criteria values and should be the investment used in situations where an orchard is of dwarf and semi-dwarf type rootstock and where there is an adequate supply of water, and (2) wind machines are also shown to be economically feasible to use in orchard situations and can be implemented in orchards with older seedling type trees and in orchards where there is an inadequate supply of water to operate an overhead sprinkler system.



apple production, weather-altering technologies