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Press Room

New York state apples taste great – so that's always our top story from year to year. But we are more than great taste and good looks. We have many interesting stories to cover. Here are some ideas – click on a link to learn more.

Business
Economic impact: We grow jobs, too!
Local news: The apple industry is important to many New York counties.
Immigration reform: Congressional gridlock is hampering our ability to harvest apples.

Food:
New product innovation: We're finding new flavors that are bringing consumers back to apples.
Hard cider boom: Hard cider production is booming in New York, cheers!

International trade:
Apple balance of trade: Exports are vital to maintaining order in the U.S. apple market.

Technology:
Tree management systems: We plant dwarf trees, and train them to trellis systems.
Computer-aided fruit sorting: Packers use computers to sort fruit, and find the bad apples.
Controlled atmosphere storage: We can place apples in suspended animation!

BUSINESS

Economic impact: The New York apple industry employs thousands of New Yorkers and others, both directly and indirectly:
• 10,000 direct agricultural jobs, such as growing, harvesting and packing.
• 7,500 indirect jobs involved with distribution, marketing and exports
• Thousands of indirect jobs including apple processing, agricultural supplies and financial services.

Immigration reform: No business would try to operate without confidence that it will have employees to get the work done. Yet the produce industry, including apples, are being expected to do just that. The New York state apple industry relies on migrant workers to tend, harvest and pack our crops. Our businesses need a legal, reliable workforce of skilled workers. Yet a gridlocked, partisan Congress has not been able to make much-needed reforms to federal immigration policy that governs migrant agricultural workers. Meanwhile, federal government crackdowns and pressure to use a controversial online system to verify worker eligibility are causing business uncertainty and contributing to labor shortage.

Local news: Apples are grown in many New York counties, including Wayne, Ulster, Niagara, Clinton, Columbia, Monroe, Orange, Onondaga and Dutchess. To find an NYAA spokesgrower near you, click here. To find a grower near you, use our handy locator map. To find a cider producer near you, use the locator map found on the home page of www.nycider.com.

FOOD

New product innovation: The New York apple industry is committed to providing consumers with a great apple experience, by growing more high-flavor varieties and taking innovative apple products to market.

Two great-tasting new apple varieties from Cornell University's apple breeding program, RubyFrost and SnapDragon, can only be grown by New York state growers.
New York apple processors also produce fresh-cut apple slices, which are bringing apples to new markets including schools and foodservice. Our processors have also been pioneers of single-serve containers of applesauce, perfect for today's on-the-go families.

Hard cider boom: Production of alcoholic cider is booming in New York state, delighting consumers interested in craft beverages, and providing an outlet for local apples. New York state's elected officials recognize that growing the hard cider industry is also good for the state's growers, tourists, employers and tax coffers. For more information, visit www.nycider.com.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Apple balance of trade: The U.S. apple industry exports about 30 percent of its fresh-market wares in any given year. New York exports as much as 10 percent of our crop each year, primarily to Canada and the European Union.

The United States historically has a net surplus in apple trade, exporting more than four times the quantity that we import. In 2012-2013, the United States exported 46.7 million cartons of apples valued at $1.16 billion; imports were 10.6 million cartons valued at $198 million. (Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.)
With ever-increasing U.S. and New York state apple crops, export outlets are vital to maintaining an orderly domestic apple market. If we couldn't export apples, we'd have to find more U.S. mouths to eat all of them.

TECHNOLOGY

Computer-aided fruit sorting: Apples are sold at wholesale by size and degree of color, according to standards set by USDA. Today's modern apple packinghouses use computers to sort fruit quickly and efficiently. In a fraction of a second, a high-speed camera takes several pictures of each apple to determine the degree of its skin color. Meanwhile, the computer weighs the apple to determine its size. The computer then sorts apples that are like weight and skin color, sending them down the automated packingline to be boxed or bagged together.

The industry is in the process of implementing noninvasive, computer-aided aided technology to find internal defects in an apple, so that defective fruit isn't sent to market. This is a major advancement in our industry's ability to deliver a great apple-eating experience, every bite, every time. These systems shine a beam of infrared light through each apple; how the light bounces back to a computer helps the computer identify internal defects such as water core or soggy breakdown.

Controlled atmosphere storage: Apples that are going to be sold in the short term after harvest – say a couple of months – are typically stored in big refrigerated, humidity-controlled storerooms. In industryspeak, these rooms are called "Regular Atmosphere Storage" or "RA Storage" for short.

Apples that are going to be sold a few months or more after harvest are often stored in "Controlled Atmosphere Storage", or "CA storage" for short. These big, refrigerated storerooms can be completely sealed; then nitrogen is pumped in to lower the oxygen content from 21 percent to 2.5 percent. This slows the apples' respiration, in effect putting them to sleep. That in turn slows fruit aging, and preserves the apples' firmness, flavor and nutrition.
When the packer is ready to access CA-stored fruit, the packer restores the ambient atmosphere to breathable oxygen levels and unseals the room, converting it back to "RA storage."

The first CA rooms in the United States were built at New York's Cornell University, in 1940. Cornell's Dr. Robert Smock was a pioneer in adapting European techniques for use with apples.

Tree management systems: Unlike the big old apple tree that grew in your Grandma's backyard, today's apple growers plant smaller trees, known as dwarf or semi-dwarf trees. A row of trees is tethered/trained to a common trellis system that is composed of vertical end posts and horizontal wires strung between the posts. Thus, the trees' limbs can be spread out. Tree training results in better fruit quantity and quality, and easier tree care.