A Visit to the Hurds Apple Packing Line
Thankfully it is a bit cooler today. Sunny with a high of 82° and breezy sounds like the perfect Spring day to sit in the shade. We are coming down the homestretch at Hurds! Yes, it's the FINAL pack out from that ABUNDANT crop of 2017 APPLES!! Ever cross your mind how on earth an apple makes it's way from our trees in the orchard to your grocery store? Each apple was harvested by a human hand, placed into a canvas picking satchel and GENTLY lowered into a 20 bushel apple bin. The bin of fruit is carefully loaded onto a flatbed truck and headed directly to our cold storage as we call it. The apples on our New York State Century family farm are picked, depending on the year, from July to November, as they are determined to be ripe. They are packed and shipped from July through May.
Our wonderful apple packing crew enjoy engaging in their work by listening to upbeat music with a Latin beat! The number of team members working in the packing house varies from 10-16 depending on the point in season and how many people are available to work. To keep it simple, 2 or 3 people create the boxes, stack boxes and lowers the bin of apples into water. 1 person checks for cider apples, and removes them off the brushes. to go for processing. The remainder of our crew packs fruit into totes or boxes depending on the order at hand. As we are winding down the packing end of our farm, we pack around 600-700 bushels of apples per day, In the height of the fall, 800 -1100 bushels is more the norm.
Put a bin in the water by pushing the left lever down. If you are lifting the bin up, you would also use the left lever, but you would pull the lever up. Each apple bin holds about 20 Bushels or 800 lbs which varies depending on apple size. The apples move from the water to the set of rubber rollers which takes them up hill. These rollers also help to get some of the water off the apples.
From the roller the apples move to the first set of brushes. These green brushes and the fans help the apples dry before they are waxed.
From the first set of brushes, the apples move to the second set of brushes which are the black wax brushes. After the apples are waxed, they move through the heat tunnel. (This tunnel is usually covered). The heat tunnel is used to dry the fruit before packing at about 120°F.
After the apples go through the heat tunnel, they move onto the corner belt and to the second set of rollers.
After the second set of rollers, the apples move to the grader. This machine weighs, measures color and stickers each individual apple. The graded apples will then be delivered to the designated packing area that matches the grade. Similar to shrimp, apples are measured in how many it takes to make a bushel (a volume of 8 gallons). This count for apple can be anywhere from 36 to 163. The amount of color determines if the apple will be packed as U.S. Extra Fancy or #1 grade apples.
One of the team members folds up boxes and puts them in a reach from the packers. Our customers determine how the apples are packed in the box, and there are a lot of options! Apple can be put in bags and then boxed. For example a box can hold twelve 3 lb. bags, eight 5 lb. bags or eighteen 2 lb bags. Other customers need trays with a box, depending on apple size it could be 3 to 5 trays. There could also be in a cell with a piece of cardboard between each row of apples. Then there are the apples that are loose in a box.
Once the apples are packed into boxes they are stacked onto a pallet that matches their type of 35, 42, or 45 boxes.
After a pallet is completely filled or all the apples of that type are packed it is taken into cold storage awaiting pick up.
If you are interested in purchasing wholesale NY apples picked from our Hudson Valley family run farm please contact M.G. Hurd & Sons at 845-883-7364. Depending on the season we have fruit available through June.