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Breakthroughs in apple technology

A number of technology innovations in the field and packhouse are helping keep apples fresher and maintain their flavor and texture.

Rice Fruit Company in Gardners, PA, is tapping using controlled atmosphere storage to keep oxygen levels low for its Kiku variety and other apples.

“It provides a much better piece of fruit than you would’ve gotten 10 years ago,” Brenda Briggs, vice president of sales and marketing for says.

New sorting technology can take 30 to 40 rapid photographs of a single piece of fruit, identifying irregularities as well as bruises or blemishes for better quality.

“It allows us to very consistently put good quality apples into the boxes that arrive at grocery stores,” says Briggs.

Other advances include harvest aids.

Stemilt Growers LLC in Wenatchee, WA, uses automated platforms for apple pickers.

“They have stereos and lights on them; they’re pretty cool. We need better productivity because of labor problems,” says Roger Pepperl, marketing director.

Stemilt also built a 479,000-square-foot facility that can store more than 1 million packed boxes of fruit. It will allow for more efficient handling, palletizing, storage, and shipping of product through the use of robotic cranes, automated dollies, and computerized tracking systems.

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.


Annemarie Mannion is a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune and freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She writes for a variety of business publications and websites.