From Tree To Table
Apples are an ancient fruit and have been grown for thousands of years. The basics of apple growing haven´t changed much over the centuries — although, in this century, science and technology have become very important tools. Here’s a summary of an apple´s trip from the tree to your table.
Step 1: Grow In The Orchard
Apple growers watch over their apple trees all year, pruning them during winter, thinning blossoms during spring to increase fruits’ size and color, mowing grass to fight pests during summer, and harvesting during fall. By fall, the tree is so heavy with fruit that its branches can bend to the ground.
Step 2: Hand Pick Apples
Apples bruise easily, so they must be picked from the tree by hand rather than by machine. Apple pickers use ladders to reach the fruit at the top of the tree. They place the picked fruit in cloth buckets worn over their shoulders. When full, these buckets are emptied into a big field bin, typically 4’ by 4’.
Step 3: Pack and Store
Full bins are loaded on a truck with other bins and taken to a packing house. At the packing house, the fruit is stored in giant refrigerated warehouse rooms until the apples are sold. We use special warehouse rooms called controlled atmosphere rooms that allow us to store apples until the next year’s harvest. This storage technology ensures that you can have crispy, crunchy apples not just in the fall when they´re picked, but all year long.
Step 4: Wash, Sort and Pack
Once the apples are brought to the packing shed, they are washed and brushed to remove leaves and dust. The apples are then sorted into bags or boxes with other apples that are the same variety, size and color, and packed into cardboard cartons. The cartons are transported from the warehouse inside a refrigerated truck to your grocery store, your school cafeteria, or your local restaurant.
Step 5: Sell Apples
Some growers sell their apples themselves at small stores on the orchard or at roadside stands or at their community farmer´s market. You can also visit many orchards to pick and buy your own apples.
Step 6: Send for Processing
Some of our apples go from the orchard to food processing plants to be made into apple sauce, apple juice, apple slices, dried apple chips, and other apple foods. About four of every 10 apples we grow are made into processed apple foods.