Idaho has been committed to growing top quality apples for more than a century. Idaho farm families helped pioneer the apple industry in the northwestern United States. Many major Idaho apple orchards began producing fruit in the 1890s. Family values run strong in the Idaho Apple industry as many of them are third, fourth, and even fifth generation growers and packers.
Nestled in a valley between the Snake and Payette Rivers, on the southwestern side of the state near Boise, this region is perfectly suited for growing apples of the highest quality. Idaho’s terrain, microclimate, volcanic soil, and elevation above sea level provide the essential ingredients to guarantee a superb tasting apple. Idaho growers and shippers adhere to strict agricultural practices to assure the safest and the best tasting apples are provided to the consumer.
Idaho farm families are good stewards of the land, and provide sustainability of all aspects of the apple crop now and for future generations. As part of the long-term sustainability efforts, when apple trees go dormant in the winter apple growers use this time to prune the trees for the next season. Pruning along with orchard maintenance and care are an important and necessary practice to maintain fruit quality and production over the lifetime of the orchard.
As trees awake in early spring, one has to only drive a short distance in the Treasure Valley to see the beautiful bloom of the apple trees. Walking through an orchard in bloom one will notice bees working their magic on the apple blossoms. Pollination is a necessary step for growing apples. Without pollination there would be no apples.
Thinning the bloom makes sure the apple crop is consistent in size and volume each year. Along with other thinning techniques, thinning by hand is usually done six to eight weeks after the trees have bloomed. To sustain the integrity of the tree blossom thinning is conducted yearly, another important step in sustainability. Idaho apple growers care for the apples and the orchards by using efficient, sophisticated irrigation systems. Managing pests with new natural inhibitors is another way to ensure apples of the highest quality are available each season.
Apple harvest in Idaho begins in August, with Gala apples, and continues through October when Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples are harvested. Over the harvest period, many other varieties will be harvested, including Jonathan, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Rome, and Fuji.
As apples are harvested they are taken to state of the art packing and storage facilities, and are cooled quickly for long term storage. With controlled atmosphere and proper temperatures, apples can be stored for several months. Idaho Apple packing facilities voluntarily have their facilities tested by third-party auditors for compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). This ensures food safety and provides traceability for the apples, all the way back to the orchard where they were picked.
Continual research is conducted on Idaho Apples to improve growing practices, storage capabilities, and flavor. Research is vital to keep Idaho Apples competitive in a global market. Apples are a rich source of phytonutrient (plant-based) antioxidants; apples and apple juice are two of the best sources of the mineral boron, which may promote bone health.
Idaho Apples are packed by grade standards that exceed USDA standards. A variety of packaging sizes are available for consumers and retailers. When buying apples, they should be selected that are firm to the touch; this will provide apples with the best flavor and crunchiness. Apples should be stored in the refrigerator to slow ripening, and maintain flavor. At home, refrigerated apples have a longer shelf life.
Idaho Apples may be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Grab a fresh apple out of the refrigerator, or add it to your favorite salad. Idaho apples make great tasting pies, and at your next gathering offer a plate of apples with your favorite dip. Use your imagination and come up with a great tasting recipe of your own. With Idaho Apples the sky is the limit!
Idaho Apple Commission, Parma Idaho, (208) 722-5111