You might not have realized it but there are various apple grades used in the United States in order to determine the quality of this fruit. The term grade in this regard has nothing to do with the grades one can get in school. Grade, as you might have guessed, refers to the quality of the produce. When it comes to apples, these grades will refer to the fruit’s size and color.
Apple grades will be affected by the color depth and apple size. It is a bit obvious that if an apple is bigger and has deeper color then it will be classified to a higher grade than others. Washington State was the first state in the US to implement apple grades. It set the stringent standards in the year 1915. The rest of the country followed suit a few years later.
The US Department of Agriculture followed suit with the grades pioneered by Washington State in 1923, which is eight years after Washington State implemented its own grading standards for apples. In recognition of such a pioneer endeavor, Washington State is given the opportunity to pack their apples according to their standards as well.
USDA Apple Grades
The United States Department of Agriculture has established the various grades to be used in the country. They follow suit with what was already established earlier by Washington State. The different grades/apple sizes set by the USDA are the following: US extra fancy, US fancy, and US number one.
However, the apple industry in Washington State has a couple of grades in addition to what was stipulated by the USDA. These are Washington extra fancy and Washington fancy. The Washington extra fancy is said to be a higher standard than that of the US extra fancy grade while the Washington fancy grade is higher standard that the US fancy grade.
Getting the Apple Sizes
Apples in the United States are packed inside cardboard shipping containers. The biggest size of an apple in the US is 48. This simply means that 48 apples of this size can fill a 40-pound carton. Grade 48 apples have a diameter that is approximately 3 7/8 inches and weighs about 13.3 ounces or 375 grams.
The smallest apple size is grade 216, which means that a 40-pound cardboard will contain 216 apples of this size. These apples will have a diameter of about 2 1/8 inches and will weigh three ounces or 85 grams. The crops from Washington State are usually at their peak on sizes 113 and 100. Of course, these are approximate measures but the quality of the apples packed should be above the standard for which they are marked.