The finer points of the apple process

Most people don’t know that even in our current technological state, most apples are still picked by hand. Even fewer know the full process of getting apples off of the trees and into your homes and offices.

Apples can be persnickety and orchardists are constantly combating bruising and temperature With that in mind, we’re going to look into some of the interesting parts of the apple process and shine some light on them.

Apples grow naturally but they get some help from orchardists. Trees are grown in Y-shaped trellises so the maximum amount of apples can get sun and when it gets close to harvest season, growers roll out white, reflective material between orchard rows for the same reason.

Yes, all apples in Washington state are picked by hand. This is because while hearty, apples are easily bruised when dropped. Even after apple pickers pick ripened fruit off of the tree, they have to pay attention as they pour apples into large hauling crates.

Keeping these apples at an ideal temperature; even while they’re growing, is a focus. Growers use large fans to maintain a proper growing temperature and to keep the air moving uniformly around the orchard.


After they’re picked, apples are delivered to a sorting facility and to reduce bruising they float through chutes. Not only does it keep them from bruising, the water helps clean some of the surface dirt off of the apples.

This is where the technology takes over. Apples go through scanners and stickering machines to find and grade out the apples. The highest grade for apples is Washington Extra Fancy which is held to a higher standard than the US #1 which is lauded as the top quality apple nationally.

Machines can do a lot of the work but it still goes back to hand picking to put them into 100-count apple boxes. Apples need to be stored at temperatures just above freezing until they are ready to be delivered to grocery stores.

At that point, they become our responsibility! We deliver fruit and healthy snacks all over the Puget Sound. We can show you what we’ve got too with a ThirdLeafNW free trial. Click here!