Tree fruit is harvested, placed undercover or in the shade, and then transported to packinghouses as soon as possible after harvest. Apples and pears are cooled as soon as they reach the warehouse to remove the field heat, and cherries are often hydro-cooled in the field before transport, because they start to lose quality as soon as they are picked, and heat exacerbates this. Fruit are sampled, washed, sorted, graded, packed, and stored after arriving at the packinghouse. The variety of fruit, time of harvest, and fruit quality determine the packing and storage protocols that will be used.
Apples are checked for fruit quality when they arrive at the packinghouse, then possibly drenched with fungicides, depending on whether they are Organic or Conventional, and placed in cold storage. Apples are then packed with the Direct Pack or Presize systems. See the apple section below for apple packing steps.
Pears are packed right after harvest, or stored in controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. Pears require “conditioning” in cold storage for a certain length of time in order to ripen properly when consumers purchase them. They are not presized due to their delicate skin, and will not tolerate the extra handling. See the pear section below to learn more.
Sweet Cherries arrive at the packinghouse, and are placed in cold storage immediately. Cherries are then sorted, sized, and packed in a short amount of time due to their shorter storage and shelf life. They can be in cold storage for a couple of months, but are sold as soon as possible after harvest. See the cherry section below for more information on packing cherries.