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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a final rule that will allow Chinese apples to be imported into the United States, effective May 29.

The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service completed a risk analysis two years ago to determine that apples could be safely imported into the United States from China. Chinese apples must be produced under a systems approach.

Participating producers must be certified by the National Plant Protection Organization of China. Apples must be inspected before harvest and can only be exported in commercial assignments and in sealed boxes.

Fruit must be inspected and certified free of quarantine pests and held in cold storage while awaiting export. Apples from areas in China where Oriental fruit fly exists must be fumigated and refrigerated.

APHIS will audit and monitor China’s implementation of the systems approach.

Earlier this year, U.S. and Chinese officials reached an agreement to allow all varieties of U.S. apples to be exported to China, effective May 22. Until now, China has accepted only Red and Golden Delicious.

Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, said the reciprocal agreement comes too late to have a great impact on Washington apple exports for the current season, but it should give shippers tremendous access to China for next year.

The apple industry has estimated that U.S. apple exports to China could reach 5 million boxes annually, increasing fresh apple exports by 10 percent, according to the USDA.