Orchard Packing Facts: Can be divided into manual and semi-automatic process. Manual packing is mainly for delicate varieties, to meet client requests, or in smaller packing houses. Apples are sorted, packed, and then segregated.

Major components:


  • Severely damaged and rotten fruit is removed.
  • Cleaning and waxing occurs after the initial sorting by grade.


  • Workers may do both manual and semi-automated packing.
  • Forklifts transport bins to the packing line.

Manual packing:

  • Worker retrieves the apple using one hand, transfer the apple to another hand, and then place it into waiting paper trays or bags.
  • Workers may be paid hourly (conveyor speeds sets the work rate) or piece-rate (set by the automated filling of the receiving bins).
  • Standard apple box holds 5-6 trays and can weigh 40-50 pounds.

Semi-automated packing:

  • Indented paper trays are fed into the packing conveyor where the apples are delivered from the computer controlled sizer.
  • Packers manually adjust each apple for optimal presentation.
  • The pace is determined by the speed of the conveyor.
  • Filled trays are manually placed in boxes located at the end of each packing conveyor.
  • Repacking: This occurs for changes in production needs, to meet client requirements, etc. Repacking is not performed at a standard packing station and usually done manually by an experience packer.


  • Segregators (usually male workers) manually lift the boxes from the conveyor and place them on wooden pallets according to labeled size and grade.
  • Some packing houses use an automatic palletized.
  • Forklifts transfer the pallets to the loading dock or to storage.
  • Musculoskeletal Risks in Washington State Apple Packing Companies (Synder, Flanagan, Camp et al 2001).

Common Hazards and Conditions