One of the title slides used to catalog thousands of files of damaged, diseased and, in this case, moldy apples for the future apple defect guide by Washington State University, Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission and Good Fruit Grower. This particular photo of grey mold damage in Gala is for archival use and is one photo out of more than 14,000 images photographed for the project. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

One of the title slides used to catalog thousands of files of damaged, diseased and, in this case, moldy apples for the future apple defect guide by Washington State University, Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission and Good Fruit Grower. This particular photo of grey mold damage in Gala is for archival use and is one photo out of more than 14,000 images photographed for the project. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

For years, Washington growers and packers have turned to a handy, 36-page guide to determine the exact cause of the flaws in their apples.

Alas, the Quick Identification Guide to Apple Postharvest Defects and Disorders is long out of print — and as noted by Rob Blakey, former Washington State University postharvest extension specialist now with Stemilt Growers, out of date.

So, WSU Extension, the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission and Good Fruit Grower have teamed up to create a guide made for today, with online images and a user-friendly interface. (For a preview, visit bit.ly/bluemold)

The guide, scheduled to be released in 2019, captures physiology, entomology, physical defects and pathology, Blakey said, or essentially “everything that can go wrong with an apple.”

So far, about 169 defect and variety combos have been produced for the online guide that will include detailed descriptions, photographs with gradations, rotating images and useful links, all hosted on the WSU tree fruit website. Posters and a hard-copy, waterproof guide with similar content are planned.

“Our goal was to have the most comprehensive defect guide with the best photos and the best user-interface that’s easily updatable,” said Ines Hanrahan, WTFRC executive director. “We usually show internal and external images of the symptoms and, with this, you can look at these issues from every angle.”

Good Fruit Grower is especially proud to partner on a project such as this because it meets the magazine’s core mission: to educate growers. As a bonus, it also presents an opportunity to showcase the talents of TJ Mullinax, the magazine’s photographer, videographer, web guru, IT specialist, occasional mechanic …

One could go on about TJ’s many skills, but I’ll stick to this: Over the course of several months last year, he shot more than 14,000 files of degrading and, frankly, in some cases truly disgusting fruit, all of which was brought to the Good Fruit Grower offices. (Thanks for that, guys!)

You read that right — 14,000-plus files. And he loved every minute of it.

It’s been a tremendous effort by everyone involved, and we’re thrilled to have been asked to participate. Stay tuned this year for updates on when the website is live online and printed materials are available for purchase. •

Rob Blakey, left, and Ines Hanrahan prepare samples before the apples are photographed on February 7, 2017, at Good Fruit Grower magazine in Yakima, Washington, for the new apple defect guide by Washington State University, Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission and Good Fruit Grower. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

Rob Blakey, left, and Ines Hanrahan prepare samples before the apples are photographed on February 7, 2017, at Good Fruit Grower magazine in Yakima, Washington, for the new apple defect guide by Washington State University, Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission and Good Fruit Grower. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower)

—by Shannon Dininny