Putting in Storage
American consumers love eating apples! They’re the most popular US-grown fruit in the produce department from coast to coast. Thankfully, modern storage techniques allow US growers – who all pick their fruit from July to October – to keep apples in just-harvested condition all year long. How do we do it? In essence, we put the apples to sleep by lowering the temperature and creating a low-oxygen environment that slows the apple’s respiration and metabolism. Riveridge’s seven packers and 100 grower partners have dozens and dozens of storage rooms like the one shown here. We load them full of apples, usually within 24 hours after they come off the tree and implement the storage protocol shortly after. This is called controlled atmosphere storage, or CA storage for short. As the marketplace demands, we open CA storage rooms one at a time often beginning in December, and re-mix the air to a normal level of oxygen and carbon dioxide. The apples begin respiring again, and are soon packed and shipped to a store near you. NOTE: Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage for fruit was first developed in Cambridge, England, early in the 20th century.
In the 1930s CA technology was used to store fruit, and the first commercial CA storage facilities were built in the U.S. in the 1950s. A Sparta, Michigan, grower on Fruit Ridge, A.J. Schaefer & Sons Orchards, had one of the very first CA rooms in the U.S.