My first experience in apple packing and changes in the Washington apple industry

The Good Life|July 2020

My first experience in apple packing and changes in the Washington apple industry

My first real exposure to growing and packing apples was in 1943 when I was around 14 years old.

My folks rented the old Charlie Campbell place, located in the Methow Valley about three miles south of Carlton, that included about four-and-one-half acres of younger Red and Golden Delicious apples.

Dad, who had experience packing apples, decided to pack the apples ourselves and save some money. He located a four-foot-long rag wiper that was a wood cylinder about six inches in diameter with rags protruding out, maybe four to five inches, the length of the cylinder and powered to turn by an electric motor to remove residue, including spray, from the apples.

Dad built a little ramp about three feet by three feet reduced to eight inches wide to feed the rag wiper. He then built a padded bin four by four by two foot to receive the apples from the wiper.

This is where Dad would size and pack the apples. He would normally pack about 100 boxes a day depending on apple sizes, quality, etc.

My mother would sort out the culls where the apples came off the wiper into the bin.

Among my duties was dumping the apples into the wiper and stamping the required information on the box.

The lidding apparatus was a foot-operated press that I would place the packed box of apples and lid on and squeeze the lid snugly to the top of the box and nail four nails in each end of the lid to secure the lid to the box.

I also would stamp the variety, grade and size on the packed box.

The sizes in each packed box were a mystery to me, so my Dad wrote the sizes and the pattern visible on the top layer on an empty box side for my assistance.

For example, a top layer showing two apples wide, then three apples wide by two rows of five apples and three rows of four apples lengthwise equals 22 apples per layer; with four layers in that box equal to 88 apples or size 88.


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July 2020