Certified acres of organic apples expanded by more than 60 percent in 2008, at the same time that the rate of growth of organic food sales slowed to the lowest level in 20 years, according to a Washington State University report.

Organic apples now represent about 8 percent of the state’s total apple acreage. The report, compiled by sustainable agriculture specialist David Granatstein and assistant Elizabeth Kirby, shows that there were 12,936 acres of organic apples in Washington in 2008, with another 4,256 acres in transition.

Certified organic cherries increased by 70 percent from 2007 to 1,738 acres in 2008. Organic cherries now make up 6 percent of Washington’s total cherry crop.

Certified organic pears increased by 21 percent from 2007 to 1,713 acres in 2008. Organic pear acreage dropped between 2002 and 2005 but is nearing its previous peak and is expected to continue to grow. Organic pears account for 7 percent of Washington’s total pear crop.

Soft fruit growers reported more than 1,200 acres of transitional peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums in 2007 and 2008. Certified organic acreage of both peaches and nectarines should more than triple this year. California, which dominates U.S. organic soft fruit production, had more than 4,800 acres of prunes, peaches, nectarines, and apricots in 2007, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.