Big Impacts

Here are a few ways Wenatchee’s WSU and USDA researchers have changed the tree-fruit industry:

Cosmic Crisp

Cosmic Crisp, a cross between a Honeycrisp and Enterprise, was bred by a team at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

The breeding happened in 1997, followed by research to test how best to grow it and then name it. Its research name was WA-38. WSUassociate professor Kate Evans, who hails from England, has been working on the project since 2008, taking over for Bruce Barritt.

The apples, according to researchers, are easy to grow and store and are expected to rival Honeycrisp in terms to price point and demand. Honeycrisp apples sell for $50 to $70 a box. Others sell for about $30 a box.

The first 700,000 trees were sold to growers by lottery for planting in 2017. About 5 million are expected to be planted in 2018 and another 5 million in 2019, making it the largest roll-out of a new variety. About 200,000 40-pound boxes are expected to make it to market in 2019, jumping to 1.9 million 2020 and 9 million in 2022.

WSU gets royalties on trees sold for planting and on boxes of apples sold.

Evans is now working on a dwarfing pear rootstock, that would allow them to be grown on smaller trees, increasing density and allowing more efficient management.

Decision Aid System

The Decision Aid System is an online platform available to growers that mixes the latest research-based information with weather forecasts and their own spray history to help growers make decisions about pest and crop management.

The project is led by Vincent Jones, a WSU entomology professor.

“You know what you’ve sprayed, based on forecast you can predict what the control should be,” Jim McFerson said. “And you know what the impact is on the natural pested enemy. … It’s live, online and constantly updates.”

Shade netting

In addition to protecting against hail, photo-selective anti-hail nets also protect against plant stress and sunburn. That’s good news for Honeycrisp apples that have a tendency to get burned. The research on the effectiveness of the nets is part of a three-year research project, with trials done at McDougall and Sons orchards.

Integrated pest management

Keeping male codling moths distracted with pheromone-laced tags has become an established practice in pear and apple orchards.

“It’s a biological control to reduce the number of successful matings,” McFerson said. “If you combine that with other techniques, you chip away at the overall population in the orchard. The more orchardists that use it, the less a chance of an outbreak.”

It’s just one of the non-spray methods of pest control tested and perfected by WSU researchers in Wenatchee. It was first tested about 25 years ago. Research continues on how to refine the traps.

Another technique include spraying a virus that infects the moths.

“Over the past couple of decades, pest management practices have changed completely,” he said. “There’s not not one chemical that does everything. We’re not relying on that. There’s no magic bullet.”

Researchers also are gearing up for invasive pests they know are coming, like the spotted wing drosophila, a fruit fly imported from Asia.

“It’s exploded in a lot of the country. It really likes ripe fruit, like cherries or raspberries. So we have a new problem we didn’t have 10 years ago. When something like that pops up, we go into SWATteam mode,” he said, led by WSU Entomologist Elizabeth Beers.

Another invader Beers is developing strategies to control is the brown marmorated stink bug. 

Article by Nevonne McDaniels, Wenatchee Business World

Washington's new apple could be an industry game-changer

 Cosmic Crisp apples. Photo by Karen Ducey for  Crosscut.

Cosmic Crisp apples. Photo by Karen Ducey for Crosscut.

Bye bye Red Delicious, there's a new apple in town: the Cosmic Crisp.

Bruce Barritt, Ph.D., is running around the apple orchard with his camera snapping pictures. He resembles a kind of horticultural Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He’s energetic, articulate and has a bounce for a guy in his 70s.

It is spring planting season and what’s taking place here in the hills east of Wenatchee is the elaborate choreography of putting in a new orchard. Multiple tractors are going back and forth opening rows of soil while workers drop small, twig-like trees into the furrows. Other workers follow behind covering the rootstock and trimming each tree as it’s planted. Hundreds of trees are planted in minutes. Watering systems and trellises follow.

It’s not uncommon to have a camera when an important birth is taking place, and make no mistake, this planting season is part of an elaborate gestation of a new apple variety that is designed to change the industry and consumer tastes. Barritt, emeritus professor of apple breeding at Washington State University, is the proud papa.

He has been working on this new apple for more than 20 years — since the mid-1990s — and now his dream is literally coming to fruition. “My kids don’t like me to say this but these are like my kids,” he says gesturing at the trees.

The patented name of the new apple is WA 38, but you will know it as the Cosmic Crisp. It is part of a huge bet the Washington apple industry is making to create a new variety that will supplant many of the old familiars, like the iconic Red Delicious. The Northwest, led by Washington, provides about two-thirds of America’s fresh apples and also nearly 75 percent of all U.S. apples, including those used for juice. The state’s apples also sell around the world. With funding from state growers and led by Barritt, WSU researchers have invented a new variety that, they believe, will change the face of the industry and win enthusiasm among the public with a combination of taste, texture and usability.

Just over 600,000 Cosmic Crips trees were in the ground in 2017, with some 7 million more being planted this year in 2018, and another 6 million next — a pace faster than expected. The new apple will be available to consumers in the fall of 2019 — it takes about two years for a new tree to bear fruit.

Barritt says growers will invest some $500 million planting the Cosmic Crisp over the next few years. Kathryn Grandy, director of marketing and operations for Proprietary Variety Management (PVM), a Yakima company tasked with introducing the apple to consumers, tells me it’s “the largest launch of a produce item” ever in the U.S.

According to PVM, Cosmic Crisp will begin to replace Galas, Fujis, Cameos, Braeburns and other varieties, including the Red and Golden Delicious.

Casey Corr, who just retired as managing editor of the industry publication Good Fruit Grower, says the apple has to be an instant success when it hits the supermarket. “It’s gotta be like the new iPhone,” Corr says.

 Bruce Barrit examines nursery trees in the McDougall & Sons Inc. orchards in Wenatchee, WA.

Bruce Barrit examines nursery trees in the McDougall & Sons Inc. orchards in Wenatchee, WA.

The comparison seems apt. The Cosmic Crisp will reshape the apple market. It has been designed to be consumer, as well as grower friendly. It is a cross between two apple varieties, the popular Honeycrisp and the Enterprise. Its name derives from focus group folks who found that the little pores — lenticels — on the skin of the apple looked like “a starry sky” in the cosmos. It’s a good looking apple, important in markets but also important to those of us for whom the apple is a symbol. The apple is our state’s official fruit after all.

 Rows of Cosmic Crisp nursery trees in the foreground dot the landscape in the McDougall & Sons Inc. orchards in Wenatchee, WA.

Rows of Cosmic Crisp nursery trees in the foreground dot the landscape in the McDougall & Sons Inc. orchards in Wenatchee, WA.

The Cosmic Crisp is big, mostly red and very juicy. Barritt says from the beginning the breeding program was designed with the consumer in mind. The apple market has changed over the years. Once staple varieties like Red and Golden Delicious were problematic — short shelve lives, bland flavors — and they’ve lost some popularity (sales peaked in 1994). Those varieties still sell and in some overseas markets like Japan, where tastes run to the familiar, the Red Delicious still is regarded as the ideal of what an apple should be, mostly due to its iconic shape and deep red color. Personally, though, I have never liked it. Other varieties have more flavor, better texture and are easier to grow. For those reasons some believe the Delicious is “obsolete.”

 Scientist Kate Evans takes a bite of a Cosmic Crisp.

Scientist Kate Evans takes a bite of a Cosmic Crisp.

U.S. consumers like to be able to choose from more varieties these days. Many consumers, especially millennials, are willing to pay a premium for taste. That’s been the secret of Honeycrisp’s success — a good looking and tasting apple that commands a higher price. Part of the reasons for that cost: They are hard to grow and bruise easily.

The Cosmic Crisp has a number of advantages. It is slow to turn brown when cut. I had half of one in the car for six hours and it hadn’t even started to turn brown when I got it home. It keeps longer after harvest. Picked in September, the Cosmic Crisp in cold storage can last a year, extending its lifespan and reducing waste. It’s a 365-day-a-year apple designed to thrive in Eastern Washington’s apple friendly soils and climate, unlike varieties brought from overseas or the East Coast.

Barritt says that while benefits for growers are important, it’s taste that will make or break the variety. To that end, I visited WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee where I had a chance to discuss the Cosmic Crisp with Barritt and his successor overseeing research, Kate Evans, Ph.D.

We went down into a basement lab where vials filled with fluid from various Cosmic Crisps was being tested for acidity, which “provides the character of the apple,” says Barritt. It plays a key role in how any apple tastes, and learning to get the proper balance under differing growing conditions is important. Evans continues to conduct research on test trees in order to compile a grower’s manual for how to produce the optimum Cosmic Crisps.

The researchers take a batch of Cosmic Crisp apples out of the box. Barritt and Evans give some instruction on how to taste an apple. “Taste,” it turns out, is not just on the tongue. How does an apple sound when you bite into it? Does it crunch? Does the bite snap off in your mouth? What’s the texture like — smooth or mealy? Is the skin too thick? Is it juicy or dry? Taste involves all the sense before you even get to sweet or sour, the blend of flavors that make up an apple.

The WA 38 designation means it was the WSU team’s 38th attempt to get a new variety. Coming up with the perfect apple takes time. I was fully prepared to be disappointed — the industry hype and catering to mass tastes made me a little suspicious. While it’s not a GMO apple like the Arctic, you’re still talking about something created by scientists and commercial growers who are planting cloned trees.

But the Cosmic Crisp ticked every box: good looking, with a nice crunch and powerful snap, a beautiful sweet-tart balance, tons of juice trickling down the chin. I wasn’t overwhelmed by, say, hints of blueberry or a floral nose — the kinds of complexities wine tasters go on about. But it was one of the best apples I’ve ever eaten. In fact, my sample was the essence of apple.

People will continue to have their brand loyalties — I have talked to colleagues who’ve tasted the Cosmic Crisp and swear they will not give up their Fujis or Granny Smiths, but they are in the minority. WSU’s Evans is a tad nervous. The apple represents “a lot of trees, a lot of fruit for a new apple variety.” Growers are a little concerned with flooding the market as so many new Crisp orchards come on line. Will there be a glut? Will consumers embrace the new breed?

 Alex Goke, a research assistant, polishes some Cosmic Crisp apples at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, WA.

Alex Goke, a research assistant, polishes some Cosmic Crisp apples at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, WA.

The Washington apple industry has come together on marketing and backing the Cosmic Crisp. From a competitive business standpoint, they’ll have a 10-year head start on other growers. WSU owns the intellectual property rights to WA 38 and Washington growers and taxpayers funded much of the research. State growers will have a 10-year exclusive to license and grow the apples in North America. WSU will seek patents in other countries, in the expectation that the variety will eventually spread. In other words, this apple is a unique, proprietary brand. If it catches on, it will be a boon for its home state.

The launch is not without a hitch, however. WSU and one of its partners, Phytelligence, a company founded by another WSU researcher that has a system for speeding up crop production, are involved in court battle over the rights to propagate Cosmic Crisps. The dispute is currently in federal court. Phytelligence says it wants to speed up the propagation process; WSU maintains the company violated its contract with the university and its intellectual property rights. The dispute doesn’t seem to be holding up the apple’s debut, however.

Barritt, who could not comment on the suit, is still feeling that new parent glow, and says he has little fear about the debut. He believes they have covered their research bases. The growers know what they’re doing and have deep experience adapting to market and growing conditions. The commercial apple business in Washington dates back to the 1880s; the first orchard was planted by the Hudson Bay Company in the 1820s, and one of those trees still lives and produces fruit — a fitting symbol of the industry’s durability.

Looking out over a vast orchard of his “children,” the professor says he feels the pride of any inventor about to see his creation go to market. “My employer,” he says, “was the people of the state of Washington.” He believes his invention will be rewarding for the people of the state. “I’m not anxious,” Barritt says.

Standing in the Wenatchee orchard he’s excited. Looking at the newly planted hills covered with thousands of Cosmic Crisp trees he says, “I see nothing on the horizon that will prevent its success.”

My taste buds agree.

 A sign welcomes visitors to Wenatchee, WA.

A sign welcomes visitors to Wenatchee, WA.

Article by Knute Berger, & Video by Eric Keto, KCTS9 & Crosscut

Working as a state for Cosmic Crisp

The anticipation for the Cosmic Crisp apple is building, with the first commercial harvest scheduled for 2019. According to Frank Davis, VP of Sales at Washington Fruit & Produce in Yakima, the apple has brought the state together, with partners and competitors alike working together in growing and promoting the apple. Cosmic Crisp has been recognized as a Washington state apple by growers, and as such, they are proud to collaborate in getting this apple onto the market and making it successful. 

"We are all very excited for the first harvest of Cosmic Crisp in the Fall of 2019," Davis exclaimed. "It has been a great experience working with other orchards, even competitors, together as a state. Initially, there was a lottery system to assign the first orchards to grow them, but now everyone can grow them, if they can find the trees. The industry is in great shape and it's a wonderful time to be part of it."

Article by Dennis, M. Rettke, Fresh Plaza

Comment

Blind Renaissance

Since 1972, Blind Renaissance has an extensive history of creating the strong visual identity and cohesive media presence demanded by the sophistication of marketing environments. We design engaging, client-specific promotional materials by combining an educated artistic sensibility, knowledge of advertising trends in multiple industries and the ability to appropriately utilize new design, web and printing technology.

Cosmic Crisp Exceeds Expectations, Part Two

With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Anticipation for the launch of the Cosmic Crisp apple has led to a 6.8 million acres of 2018 plantings, a million over expectations.
Kathryn Grandy with Proprietary Variety Management says it’s not TOO surprising.

GRANDY: “The Cosmic Crisp is an exceptional apple. It’s beautiful, it’s flavorful, it stores well, and so far, it’s grower friendly.”

BOB: And, Grandy says the plantings won’t stop this year.

GRANDY: “We have a large number of trees going in next year and then we expect it to drop off and even out to maybe one or two million a year.”

BOB: Grandy says consumers should get their first taste of Cosmic Crisp next year.

GRANDY: “We’re looking at fall of 2019 right now and the industry, we’re meeting on a regular basis and making those decisions and establishing some quality standards and how to finalize our plans to bring it to market.”

BOB: She says it’s great time for the industry.

GRANDY: “We’re all excited and I know our growers are working hard to get them planted as quickly as possible and they’re very enthusiastic and so are we. The amount of consumers writing in to social media and websites is fantastic so I know consumers out there are looking forward to the launch.”

BOB: A team is working on the marketing plan which will be unlike most as it will be pushing the Cosmic Crisp brand and not just sales. An estimate of nearly 200,000, 40-pound boxes of Cosmic Crisp will hit the stores in the fall of 2019, with incremental increases in the following years.

Podcast by Bob Larson, Ag Info

Cosmic Crisp Exceeds Expectations, Part One

With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Uncharted Territory. That’s just one of the words used to describe the acreage of Cosmic Crisp apples after it was anticipated to reach 5.8 million acres in 2018...

Proprietary Variety Management’s Kathryn Grandy says demand has exceeded expectations.

GRANDY: “We’re looking at shipping somewhere around 6.7 to 6.8 million. We’re completing our shipments right now and plantings going very well this Spring. And, the excess of trees were snatched up by the apple industry in Washington. And, everybody seems to remain quite enthusiastic about Cosmic Crisp.”

BOB: Grandy says never before…

GRANDY: “This is really a first. As we all know, the apple industry in Washington is the largest in the country and our industry has really collaborated together to launch this new apple variety.”

BOB: Asked if it’s growers planting new acres or growers replacing other varieties, Grandy says...

GRANDY: “You know, I’m asked that question often and I think it’s really a combination of both. I think there’s new ground being planted definitely, and there’s quite a bit of grafting over or pulling and replanting new varieties.”

BOB: She says unfortunately, the trend is moving away from certain varieties like Red and Golden Delicious, but there are other varieties that have been lagging in the market that are also in danger of losing acreage.

BOB: Tune in tomorrow to hear what’s next for the Cosmic Crisp and when we should see them in grocery stores.

Podcast by Bob Larson, Ag Info

Ag Weather Impacts - Apple Pollination

Dennis: The bees were a buzzin this past week as nearly perfect pollination weather was at hand. Yesterday, I talked with Mike Bush, long time WSU extension specialist in Yakima about the apple crop.

Mike: Based on the weather forecasts and the weather we’ve had in the past week, there has been a lot of bee activity and anything that is in bloom at this time is going to be well set.

Dennis: After the fruit is set, growers will be monitoring for pests and disease potential:

Mike: Those growers that are in the post bloom stage have probably already put out their mating disruption ties and within a week or two the growers will start putting out their sprays for coddling moth.

Dennis: Over the past 20 years, Mike has seen apple varieties evolve. HoneyCrisp has risen to be the one of the most popular at the fruit stands followed by Fuji and Gala, but there is a new variety that WSU has on limited release:

Mike: Cosmic Crisp, it does have Honey Crisp in its lineage, does have the good unique flavor that Honey Crisp does, except sweeter, it stores well, does not brown quite as fast.

Dennis: So be looking for Cosmic Crisp in the next few years. My Thanks to WSU’s Mike Bush.

Article by Dennis Hull, Ag Info

Cosmic Crisp Plantings Beat Estimate

About 1 million more Cosmic Crisp apple trees are being planted this spring than were estimated in December. Some growers worry about oversupply.

More Cosmic Crisp apple trees are being planted this spring in Washington state than expected, heightening concerns about possible overproduction.

At the Washington State Tree Fruit Association meeting last December, Lynnell Brandt, president of Proprietary Variety Management, estimated Cosmic Crisp plantings at 5.8 million trees for the spring of 2018. The company was hired by Washington State University to help manage commercialization of the new state apple.

Now with the 2018 planting season three-fourths done, Brandt said this season’s tally will end at 6.7 million to 6.8 million Cosmic Crisp trees planted. And that accounts for losses reported by some nurseries from trees that died when their bud grafting onto rootstock failed, he said.

Willow Drive Nursery, near Ephrata, experienced about 37 percent mortality on its 2018 Cosmic Crisp and other nurseries were probably close to that, said Jim Adams, co-owner of Willow Drive.

“We don’t know what caused it. We’re trying to figure it out. Roots grew fine but didn’t transfer to the variety. Buds died,” Adams said.

Willow Drive grew 1 million Cosmic Crisp trees for 2018 but will grow 150,000 in 2019 because growers previously ordered fewer Cosmic Crisp and more of proprietary varieties for 2019, he said.

Other nurseries will make up for Willow Drive’s decline, and the best guess remains that 5.2 million more Cosmic Crisp will be planted in 2019, Brandt said.

A total of 629,000 trees were planted in 2017, the first year of commercial planting, he said.

Brandt said he expects plantings to drop to 2 million trees per year in 2020 and beyond.

He estimated just under 200,000, 40-pound boxes of Cosmic Crisp will go to grocery stores from the 2019 crop, 2 million for 2020, 6.2 million for 2021, 11.3 million for 2022, 15 million in 2023, 18 million in 2024, 20 million in 2025 and 22 million in 2026.

In comparison, Red Delicious peaked at 61.4 million boxes in 1994 and remains No. 1 at about 34 million. It’s taken Gala more than 20 years to reach 33 million and Honeycrisp 10 years to reach 12 million.

The fast ramp up of Cosmic Crisp makes a lot of growers nervous, Adams said.

“I hear from a lot of growers across the state. There’s a lot of nervousness, reservations about the sheer volume,” he said.

Brandt said oversupply will be countered by Cosmic Crisp being a better apple, replacing older strains of Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Cameo and Jonagold.

“I’m not sure everyone has a grasp on this,” Brandt said. “It will be a launch different than any other. Immediate critical mass. It opens a whole lot of avenues because of that notoriety and brand recognition and promises to the consumer that will be utilized like never before.”

The industry will work together using social media to directly reach consumers at limited costs, he said.

“Because it’s a brand it must have a marketing approach, not just a sales approach. The brand will become of paramount importance,” Brandt said.

An industry marketing committee, including five Crisp marketing entities that handle 80 percent or more of the state’s apple marketing, is making progress toward a marketing plan and has “a lot more work to be done over the next couple of years,” Brandt said.

Article by Dan Wheat, Capital Press

EVANS FRUIT TO GROW COSMIC CRISP

Evans Fruit Co. of Cowiche, WA, long known for its Red Delicious apples, has launched a vigorous expansion of varietals, including those favored by export markets.

“Every year we evaluate our current acreage, taking into consideration tree health, acreage yield, overall pack-out trend, current product mix and various other factors to determine whether to replant a particular orchard,” Wolter explained.

“This year we’re planting three varieties and planning about the same for the next few years. We’re primarily converting some of our older Red Delicious, Gala and other underperforming blocks with newer strains of Cripps Pink, Gala, Honeycrisp and Washington State University’s proprietary Cosmic Crisp.”

As new wood goes in, she said, “The challenge permanent crop growers battle is how much of the existing acreage can we afford to have out of production for up to four years. Apple trees won’t be harvested until the third or fourth leaf, returning nothing back to the grower yet requiring all the input costs of producing acreage.”

Some trees are producing new varieties now, and Wolter said, “We have many of the high-colored strains already, and the volume is steadily increasing. Our Cosmic Crisp will be available in about four years. During the first three years we focus on tree health and development. If we allow trees to produce too soon, there’s the potential to stunt the growth of the tree. Evans Fruit cultivates every tree with the intention to ship that fruit anywhere in the world and quality begins with a healthy orchard.”

And the excitement surrounding the new varieties is evident, with several factors going into the choices.

“We typically choose strains that are higher colored which may not color early or afford earlier-to-market options,” she said. “We focus on growing a more uniformly, full-colored apple which benefits both farmers and retailers/consumers.”

The upshot is that retailers receive a more uniform display.

Article by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar, The Produce News

COSMIC CRISP POTENTIAL

 Jeff Samples, an agronomy consultant with Bleyhl Farm Service, scouts for damage and signs of disease and pests on the branches of Cosmic Crisp apple trees at a trellis training orchards at the Washington State University Irrigated Agricultur Research Extension Center in Prosser, Wash. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Washington State University and a Seattle-based company are in litigation about an agreement between the two. Photo by Shawn Gust,  Yakima Hearald-Republic.

Jeff Samples, an agronomy consultant with Bleyhl Farm Service, scouts for damage and signs of disease and pests on the branches of Cosmic Crisp apple trees at a trellis training orchards at the Washington State University Irrigated Agricultur Research Extension Center in Prosser, Wash. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Washington State University and a Seattle-based company are in litigation about an agreement between the two. Photo by Shawn Gust, Yakima Hearald-Republic.

It’s an apple that could upset the cart. Or at least disrupt it a bit.

Washington growers are so excited about the Cosmic Crisp’s potential, they already planted a half-million trees and plan to add another 5 million this year.

Consumers will have to wait until fall of 2019 before these new apples hit the marketplace. But behind the scenes, there’s a courtroom battle brewing between one of the state’s major universities and a Seattle agricultural technology company over who has the right to sell the trees.

But whatever happens, it’s not dampening growers’ enthusiasm for what  they see as a game-changing variety of apple.

“I’m excited to see how it will disrupt the apple market,” said Mark Hanrahan, a Buena grower who has planted the trees.

The apple

The story begins in 1998 when Washington State University professor Bruce Barritt crossed the Honey Crisp and Enterprise to create the Cosmic Crisp, named in part for the lenticels on its bright red skin and its crunchy texture.

But its qualities are more than skin deep.

“It has great flavor, very juicy,” said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communication. “From a retailer’s perspective, it has a great shelf life. It can be stored for a year or more” without losing flavor or texture.

Further, Cosmic Crisps don’t quickly turn brown quickly after being cut.

The apples could be worth a fortune. Many consumers, long weary of Washington’s once standard Red Delicious, have shown they are willing to pay more for new and better fruits. At one Yakima Valley store, Honey Crisp apples are sold for three times as much as Red Delicious. Growers are expected to produce 175,000 boxes of Cosmic Crisps in 2019, with projected crop yields of 13.5 million boxes in 2023, Brandt said.

Hanrahan said Cosmic Crisp represents a coordinated effort between the fruit industry and the university in developing and marketing a new variety.

The apple’s development was financed in part by a group of Washington apple growers, who in return will have exclusive right to produce Cosmic Crisps for at least 10 years in North America starting in 2019, Weiler said.

Among those preparing to plant this year is Scott McIlrath, a Naches area grower who hopes to plant trees this week.

“It has a lot of potential,” McIlrath said, noting its long shelf life.

Article by Donald W. Meyer, Yakima Herald

Planting Cosmic Crisp Apple Trees

Washington orchard update

cc-planting_cosmic_crisp_trees.jpg

The Superfresh Growers farm team is celebrating spring. "Honey bees have finished pollinating our apricot orchards and moved on to early-district cherry orchards." Snow continues to fall in the mountains, which helps store water that will be used to irrigate orchards in the summer months.

2018 is a big planting year for Cosmic Crisp apple, as Superfresh Growers continues to prep for the 2020 consumer introduction of this delicious apple. Years of planning goes into designing modern orchard systems, which take advantage of the latest technology and machinery for optimizing the efficiency and safety of orchard work. “The amount of detail is incredible,” describes Dave Gleason, Chief Horticulturist. “From checking how many inches and acres are in an orchard block, to accounting for surrounding roads and barriers.” The farm team also plans the most efficient systems for tractor and truck movement within the orchards.

Baby trees are dug in the fall, and put to sleep through the winter months in a cold, moist climate. In the summer months, the farm team awakens them by bringing them into a warm environment. The real magic happens once the trees are planted in warm, damp soil. Trees that look like dead sticks quickly come to life and start to bloom.

Following the planting, poles and wires are installed to support the baby trees. Irrigation lines are installed afterwards to ensure proper application of water and nutrients. The trees in our video will mostly likely be harvested on their third leaf, in 2021.

For more information on Superfresh Growers growing practices and see past Orchard Updates, visit superfreshgrowers.com

Article by Fresh Plaza

Supermarkets excited about new, bright red Cosmic Crisp (TM) apple

In the fall of 2019, American supermarkets will have a new apple on their shelves, and the new variety will be available for export markets a year after that. The Cosmic Crisp (TM) is an extension of the existing supply, Rebecca Lyons of Washington Apple Commission explains. Colour, flavour, shelf life; these are factors making the apple distinctive, she explains.  

The variety, originally named WA38, was developed by the tree fruit improvement programme of Washington State University..  “The parents of Cosmic Crisp™ are Honeycrisp and Enterprise, which give the large, juicy apple a firm and crisp texture, with the flavor an appetizing mix of sweet-tart.  It also has the characteristic of being naturally slow to brown when cut."

In recent years, many new varieties have been introduced. Why is the Cosmic Crisp (TM) distinctive? She admits that consumers are flooded by the amount of choice between the many available apple varieties. “Most of these new varieties are protected club varieties, which have a limited production by a limited number of growers, and sales are handled by one sales office,” she explains. “Cosmic Crisp(TM)  is a branded apple, but, unlike the proprietary varieties, it is available to any grower in the state of Washington, USA.. That means the variety will also be available from most, if not all, sales organisations in the state.”

Year-round availability

During the development of the variety, various testing orchards were planted. The first commercial orchards were planted in 2017, when 626,000 trees were planted. For this year, 5.2 million Cosmic Crisp trees were ordered, and for 2019, 4.1 million orders have been received. The first commercial harvest is expected in the autumn of 2019. “Volume will be limited in its first year, but we expect to market 5.1 million cartons (40lbs/18kg) by 2021.” It’s expected export will also pick up in 2020, due to the available volume combined with interest shown in the apple by international retailers.

September and October are the harvest months for this apple. Another positive characteristic is the apple’s good shelf life, according to Rebecca. The apples can be kept in storage for one year without losing their flavour or texture. “With this good storage characteristic, imports  ’won’t be needed. Besides, the global planting of Cosmic Crisp will be limited for the first ten years, and growers in Washington State will have the largest commercial volume available world-wide.”

Red eye-catcher

The apple is also being praised by retail. ”There  is a lot of excitement among US retailers for Cosmic Crisp ™”, Rebecca says. “It’s bright red in color, and very eye-catching on display.  It will make a nice change from the many bi-colored varieties currently on offer.”

Right now, people are working hard on the marketing strategy for the apple. Washington State University has appointed Proprietary Variety Management (PVM) to commercialize the apple. In cooperation with an industry advisory committee, packaging, labels and promotion material is now being developed. Rebecca doesn’t rule out a Euro-packaging in addition to the standard box (40 lbs per box). “Because it’s a brand, it’s important individual packers and exporters use a consistent design. It has to be clear to consumers that it’s a Cosmic Crisp (TM).”

Article by Rudolf Mulderj, Fresh Fruit Plaza

An Other Worldy Apple

BL: Welcome back to “Fruit Bites” brought to you by Valent U.S.A. Joining me again is Valent’s Allison Walston and this week, we’re talking popular apple varieties. So, Allison, what new varieties are gaining traction or might be on the horizon?

AW: Have you heard about the Cosmic Crisp apple?

BL: Well yes I have, but please, tell us more!

AW: Washington State University started developing the Cosmic Crisp apple back in 1998! It is a cross between an Enterprise and a Honeycrisp. The Cosmic Crisp website says “The 'Cosmic'… name was developed because of the “striking” lenticels on the apple surface… [that] look like starbursts ... 'Crisp' … links to its parent, 'Honeycrisp'.” It’s expected that nearly 5 million trees will be planted in 2018 ALONE putting estimates at 11 million trees in 3 years in Washington. The consumer expectation for taste is supposed to be “other worldly”. Such excitement for an apple! Large, juicy, exceptional flavor and slowness to brown after cutting. The apples should be available for purchase in 2019.

Interview by Bob Larson, Ag Info Radio News Network

Cosmic Crisp, a proprietary variety available to Washington State growers

When the U.S. apple industry gained access for all varieties to the Chinese market in 2015 the impact was immediate. Shipments to mainland China leaped from a mere US$3.6 million in 2014 to US$23.2 million the following year.

Since then exports have lagged off somewhat down to US$17.7 million in 2017, but this is still almost five times what it was before the new protocol – a time when only Red Delicious or Golden Delicious could be shipped to the East Asian country.

In volume terms, last year apples were the third-highest U.S. fruit commodity exported to mainland China, behind cherries and citrus and ahead of table grapes. 

“While it’s small in comparison to Red Delicious, Galas and Granny Smiths, we’re seeing interest in some of these high-value proprietary varieties going through the e-commerce platform, which really provides tremendous incentive for our industry as currently that’s where our growth pattern is.”

While there are almost too many of these cultivars to mention coming out of the Pacific Northwest, Fryhover says most of the ones with sufficient volume behind them are being tested in the Chinese market.

“The quantity going into these markets is very small. We’re just touching our toes into China into exports of these proprietary varieties because they are focused on the U.S. domestic market. No question,” he says.

However, with aggressive plantings underway the development of export markets will be crucial to the success of these apples. Fryhover believes this will be the case particularly for Cosmic Crisp, a cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise apples.

“Cosmic Crisp is proprietary in the context that every grower in the state of Washington has access to these trees, It’s not one packer, one grower, it’s everyone,” he says.

Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission says export market development will be essential as plantings of new premium varieties such as Cosmic Crisp come on-line.

“The growers of New York or Pennsylvania or in most cases overseas, they don’t have access to this variety. 

“So what we see in the next 10 years is a huge increase in plantings and availability of Cosmic Crisp and it will need to go export almost immediately because volume will come on so quickly.”

Article by Fresh Fruit Portal

Comment

Blind Renaissance

Since 1972, Blind Renaissance has an extensive history of creating the strong visual identity and cohesive media presence demanded by the sophistication of marketing environments. We design engaging, client-specific promotional materials by combining an educated artistic sensibility, knowledge of advertising trends in multiple industries and the ability to appropriately utilize new design, web and printing technology.

COSMIC CRISP, A PROPRIETARY VARIETY AVAILABLE TO WASHINGTON STATE GROWERS

When the U.S. apple industry gained access for all varieties to the Chinese market in 2015 the impact was immediate. Shipments to mainland China leaped from a mere US$3.6 million in 2014 to US$23.2 million the following year.

Since then exports have lagged off somewhat down to US$17.7 million in 2017, but this is still almost five times what it was before the new protocol – a time when only Red Delicious or Golden Delicious could be shipped to the East Asian country.

In volume terms, last year apples were the third-highest U.S. fruit commodity exported to mainland China, behind cherries and citrus and ahead of table grapes. 

“While it’s small in comparison to Red Delicious, Galas and Granny Smiths, we’re seeing interest in some of these high-value proprietary varieties going through the e-commerce platform, which really provides tremendous incentive for our industry as currently that’s where our growth pattern is.”

While there are almost too many of these cultivars to mention coming out of the Pacific Northwest, Fryhover says most of the ones with sufficient volume behind them are being tested in the Chinese market.

“The quantity going into these markets is very small. We’re just touching our toes into China into exports of these proprietary varieties because they are focused on the U.S. domestic market. No question,” he says.

 Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission says export market development will be essential as plantings of new premium varieties such as Cosmic Crisp come on-line.

Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission says export market development will be essential as plantings of new premium varieties such as Cosmic Crisp come on-line.

However, with aggressive plantings underway the development of export markets will be crucial to the success of these apples. Fryhover believes this will be the case particularly for Cosmic Crisp, a cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise apples.

“Cosmic Crisp is proprietary in the context that every grower in the state of Washington has access to these trees, It’s not one packer, one grower, it’s everyone,” he says.

Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission says export market development will be essential as plantings of new premium varieties such as Cosmic Crisp come on-line.

“The growers of New York or Pennsylvania or in most cases overseas, they don’t have access to this variety. 

“So what we see in the next 10 years is a huge increase in plantings and availability of Cosmic Crisp and it will need to go export almost immediately because volume will come on so quickly.”

Article by Fresh Fruit Portal

WSU'S PRESIDENT FOCUSES ON ACHIEVEMENTS

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz shared some of the university's recent highlights (the Cosmic Crisp Apple).

Schulz boasted of WSU's economic effect on the state, including its boost to the wine industry and the university's new Cosmic Crisp Apple, a product of WSU's tree fruit breeding program, which is expected to hit store shelves in 2019. Twelve million Cosmic Apple trees are expected to be planted, in what Schulz called the largest introduction of an apple, ever.

Article by Taylor Nadauld, Moscow-Pullman Daily News

The Cosmic Gospel: Washington State University continues education on training WA 38 trees.

 Horticulturist Stefano Musacchi teaches growers the art of pruning Cosmic Crisp trees at a demonstration in December, 2017, Washington State University Roza trial orchard. Photo by Ross Courtney,  Good Fruit Grower .

Horticulturist Stefano Musacchi teaches growers the art of pruning Cosmic Crisp trees at a demonstration in December, 2017, Washington State University Roza trial orchard. Photo by Ross Courtney, Good Fruit Grower.

Push growth toward the trunk. Tip the end of 1-year-old branches and return the following year to tip again, leaving a few vegetative buds. Girdle or notch blind wood to encourage new shoots.

After several years now of preaching the Cosmic Crisp pruning gospel, the message is largely the same, and Washington State University plans to keep spreading it.

Now that orchardists have planted the first commercial blocks of WSU’s WA 38 apple, researchers and extension specialists are continuing their road show to teach growers how to train and manage the variety, marketed under the trade name Cosmic Crisp.

“We’re learning along with you,” Karen Lewis, WSU’s regional extension specialist, told a group of 20 or so growers huddled in the university’s Roza test blocks outside of Prosser.

The December outreach involved small groups, an hour at a time, watching Stefano Musacchi, horticulturist and endowed chair, explain the pruning, training and canopy management techniques to give Washington growers their best chance at success with the new apple, in which the industry has invested nearly $500 million.

Musacchi advises the click pruning technique, tipping year-old branches to reduce their apical dominance to prompt buds below the cut to swell. That should reduce blind wood and force the fruit closer to the center of the tree, where future mechanization will become easier.

Left on its own, WA 38 has a tendency to tip bear and produce stretches of blind wood, he said. It’s also a vigorous variety and should need little help filling its space in the first few years. He recommends not applying a lot of nitrogen, as long as an orchard has fertile soil.

“This tree will grow,” he told the orchardists. “Believe me. It’s not a Honeycrisp tree.”

The WA 38 also has a habit of “exhausting” branches, so Musacchi suggests cutting older branches back to within a couple inches of the trunk to encourage new growth on a three-year rotation.

 Musacchi heads back a tree, reducing it’s height, and using a one-year-old shoot to make a lateral cut.. Photo by Ross Courtney,  Good Fruit Grower .

Musacchi heads back a tree, reducing it’s height, and using a one-year-old shoot to make a lateral cut.. Photo by Ross Courtney, Good Fruit Grower.

Another trick is girdling and notching the trunk in the first or second year. If blind wood starts to develop, use a pair of clippers to gently score the bark and phloem right above a bud at green tip to encourage growth in that bud. Combine that with Promalin (6-benzyladenine and gibberellins) treatments.

However, be careful, he said. Cut too deep and you could snap the trunk. “You have to train your people to not get excited,” he said.

In fact, WA 38 has fragile branches in the winter, as Musacchi accidentally proved during his Prosser demonstration by breaking off a branch as he tried to pull it into place. He suggested waiting until the tree is green to do any tying.

Other tips included pruning more thinly on the inside of bi-axis trees to allow light penetration and setting aside time to prune in the summer to slow vigor.

Musacchi and Lewis plan to continue their demonstrations and field days in commercial WA 38 orchards and are working with WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences to produce instructional videos for each year of tree development up to the first year of cropping, Lewis said.

Article by Ross Courtney, Good Fruit Grower

Apple Commission to promote proprietary varieties overseas

 Todd Fryhover, President of the Washington Apple Commission. Photo by Dan Wheat,  Capital Press .

Todd Fryhover, President of the Washington Apple Commission. Photo by Dan Wheat, Capital Press.

The Washington Apple Commission has learned it can promote proprietary apple varieties overseas, at least to some extent, and sees it as a helpful tool in an increasingly challenging marketing climate.

At a commission meeting March 22 in Yakima, Commission President Todd Fryhover said while at the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service the previous week in Washington, D.C., he was told the commission can offer consumer samples of proprietary varieties overseas at retailers’ requests.

“It could be a Lady Alice, a SweeTango, whatever. That’s a huge deal to us. It’s difficult to get retailers overseas to do demos with Reds (Red Delicious) and Gala, but they ask about the proprietaries,” Fryhover said.

Proprietary varieties — there are many — are varieties grown, packed and sold under the control of one company or a group of companies versus being available to all growers, packers and marketers. They’re limited in volume, sell for high prices and along with Honeycrisp provide the most profits.

“I don’t want proprietaries to overtake Reds and Gala overseas, so we need a process for what we do. There’s a lot of things we need to work through because we have to move Reds and Gala,” Fryhover said.

Proprietaries can sell in higher-end retail markets and generate excitement along with Washington’s new Cosmic Crisp to debut in 2019 and 2020, he said.

Cosmic Crisp is intended to begin in domestic markets only. But Frank Davis, commissioner and vice president of sales at Washington Fruit & Produce Co., Yakima, said it will need to be exported as soon as possible because of the large volumes planned.

Davis said he would look into why Proprietary Varieties Management, the manager of Cosmic Crisp, may be seeking federal Market Access Program funding for export promotions when that should occur through the Apple Commission.

Article by Dan Wheat, The Packer

What Cosmic Slices Reveal

New WSU-bred apple showing different starch clearing patterns than traditional varieties.

Researchers are working to develop a starch scale for the new Washington State University-bred apple variety WA-38, to be marketed and sold under the brand name Cosmic Crisp.

The first commercial trees were planted last spring and the variety is still at least a couple of years from production, but researchers as the Washington State Tree Fruit Commission, in collaboration with a focus group of growers and scientists, have some early assessments following on year of study. They plan to continue the research in 2018.

"We want to look at every angle to give people as detailed information as possible so they can be prepared, especially since we are expecting the volume of fruit to ramp up fast," WTFRC project manager Ines Hanraham said. "We also want this information to be user friendly so people can easily make the correct decision when growing, harvesting and marketing this variety."

More than 11 million trees are expected to be planted in the first three years, which will translate to a lot of fruit hitting the market at once. A grading subcommittee of the industry's marketing advisory group for the apple's retail rollout is establishing grading standards to enable the industry to be more flexible and meet changing needs of the market.

Grading standards will be the key to ensuring consumers receive a high-quality piece of fruit each time. However, so will horticultural practices, and starch scales are one method to gauge the maturity of a piece of fruit.

Immature areas of a piece of fruit will turn a blue-black color when dipped in an iodine solution, indicating high starch levels, while parts of the apple where the starch has converted into sugars will be clear. Starch scales vary be region and by variety. Cornell University provides Eastern U.S. growers with a scale range of one to eight, to point put different maturity levels; European growers use a scale that recognizes 10 maturity levels. Washington growers traditionally recognize just six, and researchers are continuing that traditions with the WA 38.

The Study

Researchers samples fruit from the end of September through November, eventually sampling 638 apples from four research orchards. They cut apples in half through the equator (the core for WA 38 is located farther down the apples than most varieties, and the cut to determine starch levels should be made through the core). Then they dipped the slices in an iodine solution and waiting up to 30 minutes to determine starch levels for fruit at room temperature; for cold fruit, starch patterns sometimes took up to an hour to fully develop. They then photographed the results to begin to develop a scale.

Typically, starch clears out of an apple's core area first, followed by degrees of clearing on the apple cortex, but WA 38 did not show that natural tendency, said Felix Schuhmann, a WTFRC research assistant. In addition, it became clear that darkening of apple flesh after reapplication of the iodine solution to visualize remaining starch takes longer than the other varieties.

Hanrahan noted that it's a point growers should be aware of, especially if they intend to preform starch readings in the field. Some varieties show fully developed starch patterns within a minute, while WA 38 will require at least 5 minutes, and up to half an hour if the fruit is cold (like on a cool fall morning).

So far, they've seen such slow disappearance of starch levels that they've developed a pilot half-scale (1.5, 2, 2.5). In addition, they've seen two patterns for how starches appear in fruit form the same tree: a flower pattern, which is most dominate and found in about 60 percent of the fruit, and a radial pattern that sprays outward like the sun's rays.

In the year ahead, the researchers are focusing on three key areas to tweak the scale:

  1. The researchers struggled to find stage five fruit picked straight from the tree, which means starches are moving very slowly out of the apple before harvest. That's good news in terms of long-term storability of WA 38, but they intend to let some fruit hang longer to determine just how long the period is to reach stage five or six on the tree. "We didn't let fruit hang on the tree long enough to determine when the fruit reaches that stage naturally," Schuhmann said. "We have to assess how long that actually takes during the season." On average, research on WA 38 has shown growers will have a two-week harvest window for controlled atmosphere storage-quality fruit.
  2. Instead of just conducting horizontal cuts, the researches also intend to perform vertical cuts to show starch clearance differences between the core area and the calyx and them bowl area, which might be helpful to determine if fruit is prone to splitting, Hanrahan said.
  3. Schuhmann said the researchers also aim to compare starch clearance rates to the rates of other common apple varieties.

The research is being funded by the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.

Article by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower

Growers to Continue Aggressive Apple Plantings This Year

CC-Growers-to-continue-aggressive-apple-plantings.jpg

Growers of apples and pears have had the most ambitious production plans in the past few years. In 2018, the beat goes on.

In fact, pome fruit growers are the only ones in which a plurality, a solid 48%, say they are planning on increasing production in 2018. Nearly as many, 45%, say they expect production to stay the same this year.

What’s remarkable is this is the second consecutive year a plurality of pome fruit growers say they are increasing production in the coming year. Growers in no other crop category can make that claim.

Why? Contrary to what some may think, it’s not what’s being planted. Far more important is the way they are being planted — ultra high-density trellised systems. Not many years ago a high-density orchard had 200 trees per acre, while modern orchards can approach 10 times that many.

While the new varieties rightly garner a lot of attention, growers in the survey indicated they still favor traditional varieties.

Grower Responses

Growers by and large need convincing, and many are taking a wait wait-and and-see approach to the new varieties, whether the popular Midwest Apple Improvement Association varieties, or Washington’s 800-pound gorilla, ‘Cosmic Crisp.’ One Midwestern grower’s response was typical when asked about the new varieties: “Time will tell.” Or yet another Midwesterner, this one with a century-old farm: “Wait and see what sticks!”

Another grower with a Midwestern century farm elucidated concern: “Some are OK, some are not. I think we may be getting too many too fast. Stores will carry only so many varieties at one time. We may be conditioning people to something new every year. Not good for growers.”

But varieties don’t have to stay new for long. A Pacific Northwest grower, who currently farms ‘Fuji,’ ‘Gala,’ and ‘Honeycrisp,’ but who has now planted ‘Cosmic Crisp’: “‘Cosmic Crisp’ will be a traditional variety by volume within three years.”
Lamented another PNW grower, obviously envious: Can’t get the ones I want (‘Cosmic Crisp,’ ‘Piqa Boo’ pear), because we’re Oregon growers.”

One Midwest grower had a similar thought: “It’s going to be hard to keep up, as these branded apples are like shooting stars, popular until the next one comes along. We are not large enough to opt in to that marketing scheme.” However, the grower added on the bright side: “Pear requests have increased over the past half-decade for us. We can no longer keep up with the demand.”

Another common take on new varieties came from a Northeast grower: “They are a part of the business but we are not betting the farm on them.”

Another Northeast grower who has a century farm had an interesting take: “They are all great, (but) I do think that we have narrowed the definition of an apple by focusing so strongly on the harder textures and sweet/tart taste. I think that apples can be enjoyed in so many ways.”

One Midwestern grower cautioned it may be too many, too soon: “Store shelves don’t have space for all of them. Some will fail. However, new varieties that taste great and are marketed properly will be successful.”

Sameness is indeed a concern, said this Northwest grower: “There’s a confusing array of varieties that are mostly bi-colored and similar in eating experience. Difficult to pick a winner.”

Agreed another grower, this one in the Midwest, agreed: “There are a lot of them. We have chosen one or two we think are promising and are planting them on a large scale. We think the market will eventually weed some of the weaker ones out (hopefully not the ones we’ve chosen!).”

Finally, keep in mind, these are apples, not widgets, said one Northeast grower. “(There are) too many new varieties. Most are not good but are marketed as being the best new thing,” he said. “Too many mediocre growers producing them as well, so there are mediocre new varieties of mediocre quality flooding the market.”

Article by David Eddy, Growing Produce

2 Comments

Blind Renaissance

Since 1972, Blind Renaissance has an extensive history of creating the strong visual identity and cohesive media presence demanded by the sophistication of marketing environments. We design engaging, client-specific promotional materials by combining an educated artistic sensibility, knowledge of advertising trends in multiple industries and the ability to appropriately utilize new design, web and printing technology.

Learning Cosmic Lessons

Researchers offer the latest horticultural, packing tips for new Washington State University apple variety.

 Photo by TJ Mullinax,  Good Fruit Grower .

Photo by TJ Mullinax, Good Fruit Grower.

The new Washington State University apple variety WA 38, to be sold under the trade name Cosmic Crisp, is easy to store and suffers very few storage maladies if growers pay attention to best practices in the field.

That’s the finding from researchers who are reviewing the variety and offering tips to growers who planted it for the first time earlier this year.

“That’s a big difference from other varieties, not having to worry about 40 percent losses in storage due to some disease or another,” said Ines Hanrahan, project manager for the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC). “You still have to manage the growing of the fruit and the harvest, but once you have a good product in the bin, there’s less worry having something wrong once it’s in storage.”

A cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp bred at WSU, the apple was released only after years of orchard trials.

Washington growers began planting the first trees in the spring, and roughly 11 million trees are expected to be in the ground in just three short years.

Knowing what the variety needs in the orchard and packing house is crucial to success.

Researchers for the WTFRC and WSU have been evaluating fruit from the trees to better understand and recommend best horticultural and packing practices for Cosmic Crisp.

They presented examples of the fruit — perfect-looking Cosmic Crisp apples and apples shaped less than ideally, as well as fruit with various blemishes — during a field day in September.

Here are a few of their recommendations:

 Photo by Shannon Dininny,  Good Fruit Grower.

Photo by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower.

—Typically, growers will have a two-week window to harvest fruit that is suitable for long-term storage. Most varieties offer only a five-day window. “It gives you some time, some play, during harvest, if for example you don’t have enough pickers,” Hanrahan said.

—The variety is a lot less prone to sunburn than many other varieties, but can still get sunburn in afternoon sunlight without overhead cooling. Also, overhead cooling doesn’t appear to impede the fruit from coloring.

“However, if you have a block that is overly vigorous and has no overhead cooling, you can have color problems just like other varieties,” she said. Usually, color sets three to four weeks before harvest.

—Growers need to monitor starch levels and watch for splits, which mainly affect overripe fruit. Typically, only 2 percent of fruit will split, but if growers wait too long and the starch level goes to four (on a one-to-six scale), splits can go up to 20 percent.

“Start looking for splits at starch level two, then just keep watching to know if your orchard is susceptible,” she said. Researchers are working to come up with a starch scale for the variety by the end of the year.

 Photo by Shannon Dininny,  Good Fruit Grower.

Photo by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower.

—Firmness ranges between 18 and 21 pounds in normal years. This year, researchers have harvested fruit at 17 pounds. However, the fruit loses very little firmness in storage.

—A few other notes: The variety suffers from no internal browning or scald. There is some green spot and cracking, but researchers don’t think the latter is a concern unless growers miss their harvest window and harvest too late, Hanrahan said.

Researchers have begun a couple of new projects to continue evaluating the variety. They are working to develop recommendations on either preharvest fungicide applications or applications as soon as the fruit is picked and placed into storage.

The variety has a lot of sugar and there are some stem punctures, so to avoid losses in storage, they are recommending fungicide applications.

They also are trying to use dynamic controlled atmosphere storage (DCA) to see if the fruit can be stored under organic storage regimens and determining when stem punctures might occur — during picking, placing of fruit in the bin or running fruit over the packing line. Researchers are conducting a full test this year to help to advise growers on whether to stem clip.

Article by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower