Iowa State Horticulture Student Researches Printing Messages on Apples

apple imprinted with Season
"Season's Greetings" is one of many message Carpenter imprinted on apples in his research.
AMES, Iowa — Apples imprinted with messages or logos could be a specialty product for Iowa's apple growers, according to Iowa State University horticultural research. Brandon Carpenter, a junior majoring in horticulture, conducted the project with the supervision of Gail Nonnecke, University Professor of horticulture. Carpenter will present the results to apple growers at the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association annual conference, which is scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30. Placing food-grade stickers on apples blocks sunlight to form the message while the rest of the apple's skin turns red with light exposure. Bags cover the apples prior to applying the stickers to limit light to the fruit and to reduce damage from disease or insects. Carpenter began the project last spring by covering 95 developing apples with double-layered paper bags made especially for producing apples. He was allowed to use apple trees located at Iowa State's Horticulture Research Station near Ames where he worked as an intern. Later in the growing season, he placed stickers on 35 of the apples. At harvest, about half of the apples were judged good enough to be sold. "This may seem like a low percentage, but I believe I learned enough to reduce losses in the future. I also believe this would be a feasible practice in Iowa orchards," he said. Nonnecke said apple imprinting could provide a specialty product for orchardists to enhance the marketing of fruit baskets and gift boxes. "The practices are easy to adopt to Iowa apple cultivars," she said. "Fruit growers interested in producing imprinted apples should experiment to find the best procedures for their orchard." Carpenter will present his project's results 3:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the conference, which is at the Fleur Drive Holiday Inn in Des Moines. More information on the association is available at: