“Billion Dollar Apple” From Farm To Factory – Modern Technology

Today we are going to the cider apple farms in America to see how the billions of cider apples here are cared for and harvested. The old adage “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away” may not be completely true, but apples are certainly nutritious and are arguably one of America’s favorite fruit. So how do you know when to pick apples and exactly how do you harvest apples and then store them properly?

The 2017 apple harvest at Doornink Fruit Ranch begins with their Buckeye Gala on August 25, 2017 in Wapato, Washington. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

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The average American eats about 45 pounds of apples per year with 7,500 varieties grown throughout the world. They are also one of the harder fruits to pick as the apple and tree can easily be damaged if not handled with care. While automation is starting to make it’s way onto farms and orchards, most apples are still picked by hand. One company is looking to change that by way of machine vision and an apple picking robot.

In the United States, apples are typically harvested in the fall. At this time, field workers pick the apples by hand and transfer them to large storage bins, which can hold about half a ton of fruit. When these bins are filled, they are transported by tractor to the processing plant. At the plant they are stored outside for about a week which allows them to soften. This makes the apples easier to process and increases the amount of sugar in the juice.

Juan Pablo Ramirez removes a bin of organic apples from a fourth leaf Buckeye Gala planting at the New Royal Bluff Orchard in Royal City, Washington, on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. Gala is expected to overtake Red Delicious as the state’s number 1 variety by volume this year. 

Apples after harvest are brought to the factory

The process at the farm begins with pouring apples into a machine that washes them, then dumps them into another machine that pulverizes the apples into a pulp — closely resembling mashed potatoes. The pulp is pumped through a tube and fills each tray. Two people then fold the nylon cloths over the apple pulp and another plastic rack is placed on top, starting the process again.

“We grind apples to a pulp, then fill a claw rack and cloth. It’s like a tower once they’re filled. Then we slide them under the press and that presses the ground-up apples, squeezing the juices out of the pulp,” Shearer said. “The juice goes into a tank where it gets treated with ultraviolet light, which kills bacteria.”

Clean apples after harvest

Shearer said there are some differences in cider making, the types of apples used, the press used or the process used to kill bacteria, such as pasteurization. New Salem Preserves & Orchards’ apple cider process involves picking up “drops” — apples that have fallen from the trees — that can be turned into cider. “We have our own cider mill press and we started in late September, making cider primarily from the drops,” Hillman said. “Cider is a combination of apples. The depth of taste comes from apples. Each farm has its own formula, which is an important factor.”
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One thought on ““Billion Dollar Apple” From Farm To Factory – Modern Technology

  1. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks a ton!

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