(Sept. 3) U.S. apple growers and consumers could benefit from recent approval of an ethylene blocker that could preserve the crunch in controlled-atmosphere fruit.

The Environmental Protection Agency already has approved the product, 1-MCP, for use in the U.S. However, growers in California and New York were waiting on approval from their respective state regulatory agencies in late August.

EAGER TO USE

Ward Dobbins of H.H. Dobbins Inc., Lyndonville, N.Y., said New York growers are eager to use the ethylene blocker.

“We expect it to be approved, and it’s a possibility we could be using it this year,” he said.

Lee Peters, vice president of sales and marketing for Fowler Brothers Inc., Wolcott, N.Y., said he looks forward to what 1-MCP can do for eating quality late in the season.

Steve Riessen, president of Sun Orchard Fruit Co., Burt, N.Y., said he has been told that shippers will be able to use the chemical soon enough to use on empires put into controlled-atmosphere storage.

STOPS RELEASE OF ETHYLENE

MCP stops the release of the ripening gas ethylene and is used in conjunction with CA storage.

A canister filled with the gas is inserted into the storage unit, dispersing the gas over the course of a couple of days. The MCP gas leaves no residue on the fruit.

“We did some samples in conjunction with Cornell, and the results were extremely encouraging; it will be a huge benefit for certain companies that know how to use it,” Riessen said.

Jim Cranney, vice president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va., said MCP would help improve overall apple quality and the overall apple eating experience for consumers.

“We’ll have to gain a little bit of experience to understand the conditions under which it is best to use it,” he said. “All things considered, we see this as a fantastic new tool for the industry to improve the condition of the apple,” he said.