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  • Kevin Brauer

Two Apple Industry Headaches that Just Got Solved

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Headache #1: "You can't avoid calcium scale during irrigation, and chemicals can wash the scale off."

Reality: Yes, growers can't do much about preventing calcium and other minerals in irrigation water from forming scale on their apples. In fact, that's probably one of the last thing they would want to do – their produce is looking for those nutrients. But what happens when these supposedly valuable minerals precipitate out along the lining of pivots and irrigation systems, and encrust themselves onto entire apple orchards? For decades the traditional means of removing hardened scale from said apples is by soaking them in acid. This acid wash is designed to break down and eventually remove the minerals that have since stuck to the apples during irrigation.

Wait. Chemicals? Apples? That we eat? Something sounds off here.

We couldn't agree more. Up until now, there has not been an effective alternative to dousing apples and other produce in acid to rid them from tenacious scale formation. However, there is something that can be done to render those minerals harmless while minimizing chemical use.

Flow-Tech's water treatment technology is being used at dozens of locations with apple processing applications—including Evans Fruit in Mattawa, Washington, where Flow-Tech was installed to control scale build-up on apples. By using Flow-Tech to treat the irrigation water, Evans Fruit was able to successfully control scale without chemicals.

The orchards irrigated with water treated by Flow-Tech yielded apples with suspended calcium that could be easily dusted off. Julie Evans, in charge of Orchard Operations at Evans Fruit Company, said, "It has worked with the scale on the apples, but what has really impressed me is that we are now using less water to keep the apple trees healthy."

Headache #2: "Biological growth in the processing and packing industry is inevitable."

Reality: While bacteria and other biologics may very well be inevitable at different stages along the production process, apple processors are now turning away from traditional chemical treatment methods and moving towards for environmentally-friendly means of controlling bacteria. Specifically in apple wash flumes, which are notorious for large-scale build ups of biologics, processors are eliminating this threat by preventing it at its source: biofilm.

This application was demonstrated when the system was installed on an approximately 4,000-gallon apple packing dump tank in Yakima, Washington. The customer's goal was to see if they could maintain or improve upon microbiological control in the tank and potentially reduce the amount of chemicals needed.

To test the effectiveness of Flow-Tech treatment, microbiological samples were taken twice a week.  There was a spike in bacteria levels two days after treatment started. "This is consistent with the effect of Flow-Tech's signal," said George Rihovsky of Flow-Tech Systems. "The treatment dislodged biofilm present in the flume system. The readings from this water two days later were non-detect. By removing biofilm from the flume and pipe surfaces, the Flow-Tech signal helped the chlorine/acid treatment to dramatically reduce floating microorganisms." A month later, the customer reduced their chemical use, and microbiological levels continued to test at non-detect. 

Flow-Tech is the only chemical-free water treatment system to meet and pass the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) protocol for controlling sessile bacteria, or biofilm. Flow-Tech achieved a 98% inhibition of sessile bacteria, while no other technology or system successfully passed the protocol. To see the full study, click here.

More on Flow-Tech

Based in Milwaukee, WI, Flow-Tech has grown to become the largest name in chemical-free water treatment. Specializing in both mineral and biological control, companies such as Google, Apple, Uber, GE, and Boeing have turned to Flow-Tech to treat their water systems. For more information on how Flow-Tech can benefit your facility, please visit us at


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