National Apple Museum
Biglerville, PA 17307
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Early History
of the
Apple Industry
in Adams County

 A is for apple


Apple-picking is done when the fruit is ripe. Apple varieties ripen at different times, and fruit which receives more sunlight will ripen faster. Apple trees may be picked up to three times to insure that each apple picked is fully mature. Harvest season usually runs from mid-August to mid-October.

In the early days, apples were picked when they appeared ripe to the eye. The apples that looked ready were picked into buckets and then piled on the ground. Today several scientific testing methods may be used to determine the best time for picking apples. One such method determines the maturity of apples by analyzing the natural conversion of fruit starch to sugar which occurs as the fruit ripens; this is done with a refractometer.

Workers are trained to pick the apples deep in their palms, using the entire hand to avoid bruising the fruit with their fingertips. If the stem is removed the apple will spoil, so pickers must be careful not to accidentally remove the stem. Once apples are picked they are put into large bins that are trucked to the packing warehouse.

In the old days, apple trees could be as tall as 20 feet, and pickers had to climb high on ladders to get to the fruit. Today's smaller trees can be picked with a ten-foot ladder, and some orchards can be picked from the ground. This new ease of picking is due to improved rootstock and pruning techniques.


 apple picking

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The Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society
and The National Apple Museum
154 West Hanover Street - P.O. Box 656
Biglerville, PA 17307-9442 - Telephone: 717-677-4556

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