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The core competence of the Elbe-Obst is located in the sorting and packaging of the fruit. At 9 sorting stations distributed in the growing area, the receiving and grading of the fruit takes place. The packing in self-service containers is carried out predominantly in the packing house of Elbe-Obst.


The sorting facilities only use water basins with emptying functions for bulk bins. The emptying of the crop bulk bins in a water bath for gentle product feed to the sorting machine has been standard for many years in the company. In contrast, the filling of harvesting large crates in the water bath has been used for only a few years.

The sorting is done exclusively with photo optical measurement. In this process, each apple is photographed in high speed from all sides. The photo material will be evaluated by the control unit according to color, size and weight. On the basis of this data the allocation of the apples to which container size is done. The automatic quality reading POWERVISION is also sometimes in use. The hand selection by the sorting staff is mechanically supported. In the hand selection apples are sorted out with visible surface damage to become cider fruit. This activity happens additionally by machine at POWERVISION The sorting process can be executed much faster more accurately and efficiently.

In the packing house the packaging of goods for the customer takes place, i.e. crates, retail packs, Jolly tray, bags and nets. The packing house has an efficient logistics flow, i.e. the emptying of the large harvest boxes, packing lines, packing logistics and palletizing is operated with a high degree of automation. About half of the packing lines fill bags or nets. One quarter of the packaging lines is designed for lying goods and for retail-packs.


The entire logistics is coordinated by a team of dispatchers. The central warehouses of food chains and industrial processors in Germany and partly in other European countries receive deliveries on a daily basis.

The transport is carried out mainly with our own vehicles. In addition, courier services are also commissioned. In national transport mainly semi-trailers are used. In the regional area road trains are used. The industrial fruit is transported with dump trucks.


The loading of the fruit to the sorting facilities of the Elbe-Obst takes place at a loading bay or in covered loading halls, so that the fruit remains protected during loading.

Staller-Ballett bei Elbe-Obst


The aim of storage is to reduce the fruit respiration of the apple in a natural way to slow down its substance degradation. The quality of the fruit must be maintained with regard to the value-giving substances and taste for the consumer. The marketing pressure in autumn is taken away by the long-term storage and the marketing season is extended.

The shelf life in cold storage is 2 to 3 months. In temperatures of 0.5 to 5 degrees centigrade, the fruit respiration is reduced to 20 to 30%. Furthermore, CA- /ULO-Storage (Controlled Atmosphere/Ultra Low Oxygen) in addition with cooling in airtight rooms change the air composition, so that the possible storage period is 5 to 10 months.

The aim of the long-term storage in CA-/ULO-Storage is achieved when, depending on the type of apple, the oxygen content (O2) is lowered to 1.3 to 1.5% by volume and the carbon dioxide content (CO2) is increased from 0.8 to 3.5 % by volume. In a non-controlled atmosphere, the oxygen content is about 20.9%, the nitrogen content is about 79% and the carbon dioxide content of about 0.03%.

The reduction of the oxygen content is achieved by the natural respiring fruit. To accelerate this process, nitrogen is mechanically fed into the storage room. The carbon dioxide content is increased by the exhalation of the fruit. In order to maintain acceptable variety values, the carbon dioxide of the room air is continuously withdrawn. This is possible by chemical bonding to hydrated lime or by physical deposition on activated carbon.

Controlling the storage air is carried out by precisely working measuring and controlling equipment as well as daily audits by the fruit growers. A further essential component for long-term storage is the relative humidity. Here is an optimized layout of the refrigeration system and thermal insulation of the rooms evenly based high humidity.

Obstanbau und Ernte bei Elbe-Obst im Alten Land


In the context of the harvest due to the different maturity and size to improve the fruit quality a coordinated multiple picking of the plantations is done. The apples are placed directly from the tree in the large harvest boxes, as it is harvested mainly without a ladder due to the currently dominant tree height. In general, the bulk bins are placed on low trailers, which are coupled together to a plucking train. To conserve the soil, wide-base tires are on the tractor.

The optimum harvest times for different varieties of apple orchards are determined by the Fruit Growing Research Group. At representative sites in the region the so-called starch-iodine test is performed and the sugar content and fruit firmness is determined.

With the iodine test there is the possibility to determine the state of the ripening process. All you have to do is cut an apple and dip the pulp into the iodine solution. After a few minutes, the result can be read.

Wherever the pulp contains starch (sugar in the preliminary stage), it changes color. The darker the discoloration the more immature the apples. One can distinguish between different intensity values. When one speaks of the strength value of 1, the flesh is discolored completely dark and no fructose is incurred. At starch level 3, for example, clear bright spots in the flesh can be seen. Here is fructose has already occurred. A very ripe and therefore the best for the end user to enjoy the apple is the starch value 6. At this stage the apple no longer has starch anymore, but just fructose.

The degree of the sugar concentration in the apple can be detected with the refractormeter. For this juice is pressed out of an apple and a few drops of the juice are sprinkled on the prism of the refractometer. Then the prism flap is closed. By looking into the refractometer, the practitioner can read the sugar content of the fruit pulp on the scale with a white / blue border.

Especially the end of the ideal harvest date may be determined by the penetrometer. The penetrometer measures the resistance of the flesh per unit area. To perform a measurement, a piece of the skin (the higher firmness could distort the measurement) is removed and the stamp of the penetrometer is pressed at this point into the fruit. The value at which the stamp is entering the fruit, can be read directly on the indicator scale. The display is usually calibrated in kilograms per square centimeter.

Depending on the degree of maturity the planning for the early sale or storage in refrigeration and CA / ULO storage facilities is to be decided.

Frostberegnung bei Elbe-Obst im Alten Land


Among the recurring maintenance measures are the soil, plants and fruit cultivation and plant protection. With the cultivation being executed with careful working devices the mineral nutrition of the fruit cultures is to be selected by soil samples and leave tests according to the need of the plants.

Mulching of the soil

By frequently mulching the grass-covered aisles water, humus and nutrients are supplied. Renewing the fruit wood by pruning trees is an essential part of the plant breeding. The aim is to increase fruit coloring and using the light fall.

Pest control

Through the systematic use of natural constraints for pest control, such as the use of beneficials, has significantly reduced the use of plant protection products. For the protection of plants against fungal diseases and animal pests approved benficials and water conserving plant protection products may be used in a targeted way.

Care of the fruit

The measures of the fruit care relate to the crop management. It is carried out in 50% of the acreage covering frost protection irrigation, the pollination with specifically cultivated bee colonies and hand thinning to remove damaged fruit.

Plant protection

The plant protection according to the guidelines of the Integrated Fruit Production is carried out according to the damage threshold principle. In this case, the occurrence of animal and harmful plant agents and beneficial insects is detected numerically using various control procedures. When exceeding economic damage thresholds, in addition to the integrated production pesticides, beneficial insects, preferably mechanical, biotechnical and biological control measures are initiated.

Apfelplantage von Elbe-Obst im Alten Land

Planning system

The yield stability of the Elbe-Obst member companies are based on expert and intensive care and cultural work in the orchards. Guarantee for an optimal culture success is a sensible coordination of all fruit cultivation following the criteria of the Controlled Integrated Fruit Production.

A part of the planning system is to prevent harvest and quality losses in addition to the site conditions, particularly the apple varieties and analyze the documents. Thus, high-demand varieties are replanted, other varieties decrease in the range. The planting of the low growing trees takes place in well-lit single rows.

Fruits in Protected Cultivation

Cherries from protected cultivation are becoming increasingly dominant, while open-grown produce is playing an increasingly subordinate role. In the Lower Elbe, cherries are now grown under a canopy in an area of 270 hectares.


Foils protect cherries

Beginning as early as April, the foils are installed to protect the cherry blossom from frost, moisture, and possible hail. But also, to prevent the contact of the cherry with rainfall during the ripening phase. This prevents them from bursting and allows them to ripen fully. The taste of the covered cherries is described to be more intense and juicier. In addition, birds or insects cannot damage the cherries.

Sophisticated storage techniques

The most popular varieties are Regina and Kordia, but Areko has grown strongly in recent years. Sale of the main varieties starts with the Kordia variety starting at the beginning of July. Due to the vegetation, the expected quantity, and the sophisticated storage techniques, Elbe-Obst also focuses on the late marketing phase up to the second half of August.

Immediately after harvesting, the cherries are placed in ice water cooling with a core temperature of 1 to 2°C to achieve this. This stabilizes the firmness of the pulp in a truly short time. A misting system keeps the humidity in the storage room high so that the stems remain green. They are an important indicator when it comes to identifying the freshness of cherries.

Photo-optics according

Sorting takes place by photo-optics according to color and size up to 34 millimeters. Filling takes place directly at the sorting machine. Currently, packaging such as carry bags plays a role here. But the cherries are also sorted loosely into crates weighing up to five kilograms. By using climate bags, the cherries independently create an ideal atmosphere for storage. A microclimate is created that ensures the natural appearance and aroma of the cherries for up to five weeks.




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