Growing Futures

Delivering clean fruit for export

Delivering clean fruit for export

Effective washing of apples supports apple producers in meeting phytosanitary requirements

Produce shipments must meet the phytosanitary requirements at market borders, and the presence of insect pests can potentially close doors to apple exports. Apple washers are used in packhouses to remove dirt, leaf debris, insects and other contaminants from apples. Traditionally, apples pass through the system on brush-bed rollers and over-head water jets wash the outer surface of the apple. It is vital to ensure the configuration of the system does not damage the apples, reducing quality and acceptance with consumers.

A new apple washer system using individual cups and a unique rotary wand system, designed by Compac® Sorting Equipment, was commissioned by Mr Apple New Zealand Limited, one of the largest packhouses in the Hawke’s Bay region. Rigorous testing of this machine, and earlier prototypes, led to the development of protocols – the pressure of the water, and the time spent and rotation of each apple under the jets - to ensure optimal washing with minimal damage to the apples.

Washing pests away

Testing showed that the new apple washer was effective in removing woolly aphid and mealybugs with little or no damage to fruit. It was particularly effective at washing the calyx and stem regions of the fruit where debris and insects can hide. The machine was also shown to remove more than 90% of apple leafcurling midge, almost double that of older machines.

By combining this postharvest protocol with on-orchard management of the insect pests, the apple industry can meet the strict requirements of its export markets, particularly those of the USA, Asia and Australia, where the presence of a single midge in a shipment can close the door to exports worth more than $170 million.

Testing of the new apple washer design was funded by Pipfruit New Zealand and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment with support from Mr Apple New Zealand Limited.

Created: September 2013

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