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Marketing Apples

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

Walter Snyder, a Maryland apple dealer, writes concerning the marketing of apples, that "the apple should be hand picked. When I say hand picked, I do not mean to take a fence rail or a club and knock the fruit down on the ground and pick up by hand, as is the custom prevailing in some sections of our state. Ladders should be provided so as to reach the topmost limb, and each apple picked and carefully placed in the picking basket carried by the picker, or in the bag or apron suspended from the neck or the body. Next the apples should be carefully emptied under the tree on straw prepared for them. There is a difference of opinion among apple growers as to whether it is best to let them lie a few days in piles under the trees or to put them in barrels immediately, but I am not prepared to express an opinion on that subject.

"My remarks apply more particularly to marketing. For the fall and winter varieties, it is always profitable to double-head. To do this, first obtain new, clean apple barrels of the standard sizes; the standard apple barrel contains the same quantity as a flour barrel, and the dimensions are as follows: 17% inches diameter of head, 28 1/2 inches length of stave, with 64-inch bulge outside measurement. This standard size was adopted by the then National, now International Apple Shippers' Association in 1897, and has been made the legal standards by most of the large apple-growing states.

Having secured barrels and before starting to pack, see that one head is securely nailed, giving the nails a slant, so the points will not puncture the apples when put in ; turn this nailed head down, loosen the hoops of the other head, and with a slight lick of the hatchet will drop in the barrel; take it out and lay it alongside the barrel. Now you are ready to begin packing. If you are packing such varieties as Ben Davis, York Imperial, Fallawater, Baldwin, Greening, or other kindred sizes, nothing should be put in the number ones under 2 1/2 inches in diameter. If such varieties as Rambo, Grimes Golden, Romanite, Russet, Winesap, and such, sized apples, you can pack in number ones down to 2 1/4 inches.

"To begin packing, select some of the best apples, wipe them off clean and place them by hand with stem end down all around and over the entire head; this is called single-facing. If you wish to double face, place another row of apples by hand on top of the first over the spaces between those on first row. After having faced the barrel, take the balance in baskets (a 4-8 sheep-nose basket is the best), lower the first two baskets down in the barrel, and dump carefully, so as not to disturb the plate. When the barrel is half full give it a gentle shake, and when nearly full a good shake, then fill up to the top, with about half an inch rise; then lay the head on and with the arms resting on the head, shake well.

Now use the press, pressing the head down until it fits into the chine, drive the hoops down, nail securely, take from under the press, turn the barrel over, and mark variety of apple on plated head. It is best to do this as each barrel is packed, otherwise you are likely to get the bottom head marked, which, when opened, does not show the fruit off to advantage."


"I believe we will never find a more satisfactory package in which to store apples in the cellar than the barrel," writes William G. Clifford of Illinois. "It is tight enough to keep out the air, and the apples are thus kept from drying out and wilting. The barrel is of such shape that one barrel cannot be pushed up tight against another and circulation of air thus prevented. For while we do not want circulation of air among the apples in the barrel, we do not want it in the cellar and among the apple packages.

"If the apples get too warm, as they sometimes will when the weather is warm in the fall and early winter, the windows can be opened and the cold night air made to circulate among the barrels. When boxes are used they are often packed so closely that the air does not get in to cool the fruit.

To keep apples well I find it necessary to keep the temperature down as much as possible during the fall and early winter. In midwinter this will about look out for itself, in this latitude. The man who has only one cellar under his house will have hard work keeping his apples if he has a furnace or any kind of a stove in it, as many farmers have. I have for many years had two cellars, in only one of which any provision for heat is made.

" There is a door between the cellars, and to in-sure that the door is always kept shut, I have a rope that runs over a block and has a heavy weight at the end. The weight shuts the door as soon as one lets go of it. The windows are small, and late in the fall I put on the second set Several of these are arranged to open, and these are kept open a great deal on cold days and nights in the fall, to let in the cold air. It is safe to take chances even with heavy frosts, for the cold would have to be quite severe to cool the cellar sufficiently to do damage in a single night.

" By giving close attention to cooling and aeration I am able to keep my apples much better than I could in the old days when I had but one cellar. However, I have observed, and have found by experience, that only certain varieties of apples will keep well. The most careful handling will not keep the fall apples very long. Most of these are gone long before Christmas, and what few remain seem to have lost a good deal of their flavor.

" Therefore, my advice is to get rid of the fall apples as soon as possible, and put all the effort into keeping the winter apples. Some of the winter apples improve with keeping, and it is not unusual to have apples in March that appear of better flavor than they were in the fall.

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