Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

Cullage Assessment & Education

Scoring Apple Cull Fruit

In 2008, I was asked to present a talk at the WSU Fruit Quality School held in Wenatchee, WA, regarding how to best score for damage and defects found in cull fruit. I've had so many requests for the cull sheet, that I decided to post the full presentation along with links to the score sheet files. The following is an adaptation of that presentation. Download score sheet: PDF XLS

Back in 2002-2005 I was involved in a project that evaluated packinghouse cull analysis practices. There were two major findings of that study:

  1. No two packing facilities performed their analysis the exact same way (no standard practice).
  2. Most cull fruit had more than one scorable defect (many defects were not being counted).

One important thing to note here, this presentation does NOT cover the specific cull scoring (pre-screening) practices used for various export requirements.

The topics to be covered during this presentation include:

  • The need to score for multiple defects, not just the most prominent or important (very subjective);
  • The need to move towards a more standardized method for cull analysis;
  • A proposed cull score form template;
  • And, I'll pull the score form together with defect identification resources.



A Typical Cull Analysis Score Form

You can see on the form to the left that there were 55 fruit scored, because of the hand written note scrawled across the form.  Apart from that, there is no obvious number of fruit samples taken beyond adding up the tick marks.

Notice that only one defect is scored per fruit.

Some defect scores are confusing. For example:

  • “codling moth” was changed to “crack”;
  • “lygus ”was changed to “scizzor”, whatever that is.

Also, the category “other insect” accounts for 14% of the cull fruit. The arrow on the side indicates this might be codling moth.
By changing the defects, the defect code numbers, presumabling used by the analysis software, are now meaningless.

During our study, we looked at what could be scored and what was actually scored by a packinghouse.

The graph to the right summarizes what a packinghouse scored compared to what we were able to score on the same fruit lots.

Some differences may be due to an inability by their technicians to identify certain diseases and insect damage.

It may also be that some of the defects we scored weren’t considered important enough by the facility to record.

But it could also be because we scored everything that was present and the warehouses only score a single defect.

In addition to finding that many identifiable defects were not being scored, we found that nearly half the fruit had more than one defect.

  • 39.4% had two defects;
  • nearly 8% had three defects.

By only scoring one defect per fruit you don’t get a good representation of what is going on with a particular lot.

Shown here are just a few examples of variation in cull score forms. All of these sheets record different information. Imagine being a grower that sends his apples to two or more packinghouses, with each scoring a different set of defects. When he get the final pack-out report form each facility it does not even look like the fruit came from the same orchard. The result is a frustrated grower doubting the report. This leads to a trust issue between the grower and packer. This is where the idea of developing a standardized method for cull analysis came from.

What we were hearing from growers was frustration that there did not seem to be a way to get meaningful feedback from the packinghouses to help them with their orchard management.

Here is a grower pack-out sheet for a lot of Fujis. There are a few questionable items:

  • Bitter Pit vs. Stinkbug - they later determined it was all stinkbug damage.
  • What are stings? Codling moth?


When it comes to special situations, such as foreign exports, you are forced to score fruit in a particular way, using particular forms. So, the concept of standardized cull analysis should not be a difficult one to imagine. But “standardized” is a scary term. What we are really talking about is using the same terminology and way of scoring.

Here is a modified version of the score sheet used in our research. Its broken up into 5 categories of defects:

  1. Insects
  2. Decay
  3. Physiological disorders
  4. Field or Mechanical damage
  5. Down grades

We do not expect the industry to toss out what they have and replace it with this form. This is more to serve as a template for others to customize to suit their needs. But there are some basic elements that should be used. Lets look at the form by section.

Download score sheet: PDF form Excel form

The form header records general information about the fruit lot. This could be easily modified to fit whatever you need to record to fit the situation.
The form is designed to allow you to score multiple defects for each fruit while keeping the per fruit information separate. The down side is that it only records 25 fruit on a page. Most facilities score 50 to 100 fruit to make percentage calculations easier. This means that you’d need to use at least 2 of these forms per lot as is, or modify the form to allow for more fruit. An easy fix would be to make the columns thinner or by turning the page sideways with fruit number down the side, allowing 50 fruit per sheet.


The form is arranged by defect category, color coded for easy recognition. The order doesn’t matter. The colors on this form correspond to the Quick ID card set.

Section 1 is for Insects (blue-green). The major pests causing damage are listed. Many of the cull sheets I’ve seen do list Pandemis. This is one of two leafrollers that can cause feeding damage. Here, we’ve simplified things by just listing leafroller. Its too hard to separate the damage, and for the grower it is not critical to differentiate for management. We’ve also grouped cutworms, Lacanobia and armyworm for the same reason.

Section 2 is for Decay (brown). It includes all the major diseases you would run across.

Section 3 is for Physiological defects (green) and is the largest. I’ve listed the major defects. However, this could be customized for specific varieties. For instance, you may need to add Fuji Stain.
Notice that I have “Sunburn” shown in blue text. This was done because in the Quick ID card set this is a separate group.

Section 4 is for Field & Mechanical defects (orange). I’ve listed the major things that I’ve seen. You may have more to add to the list. I don’t have “punctures” listed, but this is the section where it would go.

Section 5 is for Down-grade items (not included in the card set).

You could easily add or subtract items from any of the categories, but I think the important thing is to use the names shown here and make the correct identification. This way the grower will end up with a final report that makes useful sense. As for the usefulness to the industry, having standardized recording practices would result in a vehicle for collecting meaningful data on growing problems or trends. It would help in convincing the commission or other granting agencies that more research is needed in one area over another; right now its more antidotal about what the problems are. It could also be used to counter foreign regulatory pressure about presence of a quarantine item.

Available Defect Identification Resources

I've already mentioned the the Quick ID card set shown here, but I cover it again. The material is online, but that is not very handy for the person(s) doing the cull analysis. The card set measures about 4"x5", is bound by a bolt that allows it to spread out, has a ring allowing you to hang it on a hook at the work station, and it is laminated. The cards are available for purchase through the Good Fruit Grower. I know this sounds like a self-serving sales pitch, but I don't get a dime from the sales. I helped develop the cards because of the lack of available visual guides. The cards have become one of the most popular items selling off their bookshelf.

Other sources of information include:

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