National Apple Month was created to promote apples and honor those across the apple industry. Today we'll explore how farmers are able to ensure apples make it from their farms to our homes all year round.
Apples are harvested in late summer and early fall; however, we can buy fresh apples from the store all year. This is due to Controlled Atmosphere Storage. Controlled Atmosphere Storage, sometimes referred to as "cold" or "sleep" storage, regulates the temperature, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and humidity in a sealed storage room. A lot of science goes into storing apples – each variety of apple requires its own unique set of conditions for proper storage, and computers help keep the specified conditions constant.
As an apple ripens, the starches change to sugar, and the apple takes in oxygen and gives off carbon dioxide. This is the respiration process of an apple. In Controlled Atmosphere Storage, the respiration process is slowed down so the apples do not ripen quickly. This method helps keep fruit fresh longer – most varieties of apples can be stored for 12 months or longer! Because of Controlled Atmosphere Storage, we are able to enjoy apples all year round.
Interested in the big picture? Watch "How Does It Grow?" below to learn more.
There are more than 7,500 apple farmers in the United States who, collectively, grow 240 million bushels of apples on average each year on 322 thousand total acres of land! (US Apple Association)
Apples are grown commercially in 32 states across our nation. The 10 top producing states, in order, include: Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Oregon, Ohio, and Idaho. Washington, the #1 apple producing state, grows 65% of the United States’ apples!
Looking for more ways to incorporate apples into your classroom?
Literature –Read The Apple Orchard Riddle book by Margaret McNamara to learn a lot about apples and apple orchards—including how apples are harvested, how cider is made, and what the different varieties of apples are— all while solving a riddle!
Magazine – Read our Apples Ag Mag and explore the different parts of an apple, the story of Johnny Appleseed, different apple varieties, information on how apples are grown and harvested, and more! Also includes "The Lunchbox Caper" activity, and a career corner!
For additional information on the apples that make it to your table, check out the U.S. Apple Association’s From Tree to Table step-by-step resource.