Harvesting of early apple varieties begins from mid-August. Late varieties, such as for example gala, are harvested in September. The harvest should end in the second half of October. The process of harvesting apple fruit
is very labour-intensive because it is done by hand and very gently, being careful not to damage the fruit.
Apples are picked up from the tree directly into the large pallet boxes (now plastic). Approximately 300 kg of apples can be put into one pallet box.
The packaging method must meet the conditions of the commercial quality standard for apples. The apples must be packed in such a way as to protect the product properly. The packaging must be sufficiently rigid and the materials used inside it must be new, clean and of a quality such as to avoid any external or internal damages of the product. For the distant shipment of apples, which is the market of the United Arab Emirates, it is crucial to pack them properly. Bushel cardboard packaging is the best choice.
Into bushel with a net weight of 18 kg and a gross of about 19.80 kg we put apples in layers on separate trays, so it minimizes the risk of damage to the fruit during the transport.
Depending on the calibration and the variety of apple a different size of the tray is selected.
The export of apples to distant markets, such as the United Arab Emirates, takes place mainly by sea. This way of shipment is definitely more profitable than air transport.
The apples are transported mainly in 40 foot Reefer type refrigerated containers. You can carry out shipments in 20 foot containers but their availability on the market is limited, in addition, it is unprofitable due to the small loading amount. 40 foot containers hold about 21 tons of fruit.
Apples packed in bushel are loaded on trucks with fastened containers. It is important that the containers were already refrigerated. Thanks to that the cooling chain is maintained, which ensures the freshness of the fruit until the end of the journey.
The trucks deliver containers full of apples to the seaport to place them on the ship. Exporters may choose the following seaports: Gdynia (Poland), Hamburg and Bremerhaven (Germany), Koper (Slovenia) and Trieste (Italy). The choice of the port depends on the duration of the travel and the price. Transportation by sea can last from 21 to 40 days.
Refrigerated containers have also the ability to control the humidity of the air and of course the temperature.
It is assumed to set the temperature at 1-2 degrees Celsius and the humidity of about 80-90%.
There are still life processes in the apple after the picking up, the most important of which are breathing and transpiration, or evaporation. Long-lasting evaporation causes a decrease in their mass, fruits lose their quality and appearance, mainly due to unattractive wrinkled skin. The evaporation process is slower when the storage temperature is lower. That is why it is so important to keep the temperature low from the moment of picking up the apple from the tree until it is delivered to the customer, the so-called maintaining of the cooling chain. During transport special moisture and carbon dioxide absorbers are used to further minimize the effect of ageing.
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