( USDA )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking comments until July 5 on a proposal to change U.S. fuji apple grade standards.

The proposal would revise the U.S. standards for grades of apples by removing smooth net-like russeting as a grade-determining factor for U.S. extra fancy, U.S. fancy, and U.S. No. 1 grades for fujis. 

The agency said smooth net-like russeting is a cosmetic defect that affects the apple skin but not the internal quality of the fruit.

While U.S. apple standards in their current form restrict apples exhibiting an aggregate area of smooth net-like russeting greater than 10% for U.S. extra fancy, Washington state grade standards for apples do not consider smooth net-like russeting to be a defect for the fuji variety of apple, provided that the russeting does not rise above the surface of the skin or is rough to the touch, according to the USDA.

In December 2016 the Northwest Horticultural Council petitioned USDA to remove the requirement for scoring smooth net-like russeting from the U.S. standards for grades of apples for fujis. The council, according to the USDA, provided research claiming that fuji apples have a propensity for smooth net-like russeting. 

Also, the change would align the U.S. standards with Washington state’s standards on the russeting and prevent good apples from being rejected.

Comments on the change can be submitted online