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

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


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.

The Sky's the Limit for Cosmic Crisp™ Apples

Lynnell Brandt, PVM President

Lynnell Brandt, PVM President

Proprietary Variety Management (PVM) president Lynnell Brandt says limitations on certified budwood are the reason Cosmic Crisp apples haven’t been planted too extensively to date, but virtually all of Washington State’s leading growers are on board with the cultivar with aggressive expansion in the pipeline.

The state has been granted exclusivity for the variety’s commercialization in North America for at least 10 years.

As a cross between Honeycrisp and Enterprise apples, Brandt describes the Cosmic Crisp as having some acid but it’s more on the sweeter side of the spectrum, with “incredible” shelf life and storage.

“Next year will be the first planting and there will be 629,000 trees planted,” the industry veteran told during apple industry event Interpoma in Bolzano, Italy late last month.

He says there are now 5.2 million trees on the books to be planted in 2018, followed by well in excess of three million in 2019.

“We know that’s going to climb, because that’s not a normal situation to be ordering that far out but we know there’s a lot of interest and intent.

“There’s a realization within the Washington State industry that the older standby varieties are not returning much to the grower – it’s the new proprietary varieties that are returning the most, so there’s a need then to replant the Golden Delicious, the older Fujis, and especially Red Delicious.

“Washington State University has come out with this apple that seems to be a ‘WOW’ apple – it’ll keep 52 weeks out of the year, it has a good profile, has won over a lot of consumers in testing, and so forth.” 

Brandt forecasts the industry to reach 10 to12 million boxes of Cosmic Crisp apples within the next six to seven, before volumes climb from there at a “very high rate”.

While it is likely more of the Cosmic Crisp plantings will be to replace older varieties, Brandt emphasizes the importance of new plantings as well.

“All of the new plantings with the new techniques and the new spacing and so forth are having a much higher production per acre than the older plantings, so volumes will go up.”

He says the apple’s potential is so large that major players can’t afford to not get involved with Cosmic Crisp, and therefore “all of them” are on the books.

“I’m not being facetious with that – once you get something started like that then none of them as marketing agencies can be left out. They have to be able to have the product to be able to compete, so they’re all getting involved,” he says.

Brandt adds PVM has a contractual relationship for the variety with Italian cooperatives Vog and VI.P for the Cosmic Crisp apple in Europe, but the plant materials are still in the process of going through quarantine.

Article by Fresh Fruit Portal

Cosmic Crisp™ Gets Formal Introduction at NW Hort Expo

On day two of the 2016 Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting & Horticulture Expo, KOHO’s Chris Hansen had a chance to catch up with the scientist who is largely responsible for the genesis of the new apple variety Cosmic Crisp. Kate Evans is a Professor of Horticulture at the Washington State University Extension Center in Wenatchee. Professor Evans said although much of the legwork to bring the Cosmic Crisp to market has been finished, there are literally still a few roots to put down before consumers will find it widely available on store produce displays.

Interview by Chris Hansen, KOHO 101

Click the button below to listen to the KOHO 101 interview with Kate Evans, Professor of Horticulture at WSU Extensions Center in Wenatchee, WA.

Wrapping up day one of the WSTFA annual meeting

Two words can sum up Monday afternoon’s session of the 112th annual meeting of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association: Cosmic Crisp.

Kate Evans, Tom Auvil, Stefano Musacchi and Ines Hanrahan share a laugh during the question, answer portion of the Cosmic Crisp horticultural panel on December 5, 2016. (Photo courtesy of TJ Mullinax,  Good Fruit Grower ) 

Kate Evans, Tom Auvil, Stefano Musacchi and Ines Hanrahan share a laugh during the question, answer portion of the Cosmic Crisp horticultural panel on December 5, 2016. (Photo courtesy of TJ Mullinax, Good Fruit Grower

Washington growers will begin the first plantings of the new Washington State University variety WA 38, which will be known commercially as Cosmic Crisp.

More than 600,000 trees are expected to be planted this spring, but orders for 2018 exceed 5.1 million trees.

Orders for 2019 have not yet been finalized, but demand is anticipated at about 3.1 million trees that year. In addition, after 2017, some growers may begin top working trees to WA 38 as well.

In preparation for those plantings, researchers and industry insiders shared what they know about the variety for planting, growing, harvest and storage.

The variety is prone to produce a lot of blind wood, and if growers don’t prune a lot at the beginning, they will experience problems, said Stefano Musacchi, tree fruit physiologist at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, Washington.

He recommended employing the “click” method of pruning (see the June 2016 issue of Good Fruit Grower for more on this pruning method).

Tom Auvil, research horticulturist for the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, advised growers against mechanical or chemical thinning Cosmic Crisp until it is reliably cropping, which may mean only hand thinning in June. “If you thin a little, you may thin a lot,” he said.

If managed correctly, Cosmic Crisp has the ability to be a one-pick variety, but growers should consider light in the canopy, said Ines Hanrahan, projects manager for the Research Commission.

If growers build a narrow fruiting canopy and allow even light distribution, allowing for even coloring, growers should be able to pick the fruit in one sweep.

Toward that end, she recommended growers beware of leaf margins, which can block light from reaching the fruit.

We should be the Silicon Valley of the apple industry around the world.
— Robert Kershaw, Superfresh Growers President
“We should be the Silicon Valley of the apple industry around the world,” Robert Kershaw.   (PHOTO COURTESY OF TJ MULLINAX,  GOODF FRUIT GROWER )

“We should be the Silicon Valley of the apple industry around the world,” Robert Kershaw. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TJ MULLINAX, GOODF FRUIT GROWER)

Robert Kershaw, president of Domex Superfresh Growers and chairman of the WA 38 marketing committee, expressed concern that the high number of plantings will mean an estimated 9 million boxes of apples hitting the market within the first few years.

“This is all new territory, and if anybody tells you this is going to be easy, they’re in dreamland,” he said. But he noted several positives: The industry is working together, there is transparency about volumes, and it’s a good apple.

“We’re gambling that the consumer will vote on Cosmic Crisp, and it is a gamble. Let’s be clear on that,” Kershaw said.

Washington growers will have a 10-year head start with the variety, before other growers in the U.S. can begin planting. However, WSU has begun the process of licensing international growers to protect its patent internationally.

WSU’s U.S. plan patent was issued in 2014, but it does not apply internationally, said Albert Tsui, WSU patent attorney.

As a result, the university has sent WA 38 budwood to several countries for quarantine to protect their patent and has licensed its first international grower — in Italy — to begin planting in 2019.

About 6,000 trees will be planted there, and the growers will only be allowed to market in the European Union or North African countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

Article by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower

Cosmic Crisp™ to be grown overseas: Hort Show Preview

Some Washington producers are caught off guard by international propagation plans for WA 38.

The first Cosmic Crisp international licenses have been signed and the first budwood has been shipped overseas.

Last year, Proprietary Variety Management shipped buds of the new apple variety, designed specifically for Washington’s fruit industry, to international quarantine facilities and licensed two Italian fruit companies to grow and sell WA 38, which goes by the trade name Cosmic Crisp.

Lynnell Brandt, left, president of Proprietary Variety Management, discusses licensing and grade standards of Cosmic Crisp apples during a field day in September in Quincy, Washington. At right is Ines Hanrahan, project manager for the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission.

Lynnell Brandt, left, president of Proprietary Variety Management, discusses licensing and grade standards of Cosmic Crisp apples during a field day in September in Quincy, Washington. At right is Ines Hanrahan, project manager for the Washington State Tree Fruit Research Commission.

The Yakima, Washington, company was contracted by Washington State University to manage the commercialization of Cosmic Crisp, developed by university breeders.

Despite some grower surprise that overseas companies are already involved, the moves mark the university’s efforts to protect its breeders’ invention in the competitive and complex global marketplace, said university officials and variety managers.

“This has to be done or it becomes an open variety,” said Lynnell Brandt, president of Proprietary Variety Management. That would mean anybody could grow it and sell it with any level of quality anywhere in the world.

Acknowledging that the international agreements may not have been known among Washington growers, Brandt and university officials have been speaking at field days and industry groups over the summer and will present during a Cosmic Crisp session at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association annual meeting Dec. 5-7 in Wenatchee.

“This has come so fast, with so much interest and so forth that we haven’t reached out enough to make sure that everybody has understood why these moves were made,” Brandt said.

Several growers contacted in late October by Good Fruit Grower expressed surprise about the Italian licenses but did not object to them.

“This is news to me,” said Tom Riggan, CEO of Chelan Fresh.

Riggan, a member of a marketing advisory committee for WA 38, who recalled vague discussions about global commercialization a year ago but no timelines or specific countries.

However, he supported Brandt’s decision to take action on his own due to time constraints, he said. Brandt’s management company also has represented Chelan Fresh with other varieties, Riggan said.

Peter Verbrugge, president of Sage Marketing in Yakima, heard about the Italian licenses in October and first thought it was just a rumor. “It was my understanding … that we were not going to license anybody outside of Washington,” he said.

Verbrugge sits on a different WA 38 advisory committee created by the university that recommended giving Washington growers at least 10 years of exclusive rights and sending buds overseas for quarantine purposes.

He called the lack of communication “a little frustrating.”

The Washington Apple Commission, charged with collectively promoting Washington apples internationally, also learned of the Italian licenses in late October.

“Today it’s a PR issue for WAC,” said Todd Fryhover, president of the commission, in an email. “We have been talking up Cosmic Crisp as Washington’s proprietary variety across all export markets.

Now we’ve learned it’s not true, and the Italians have the ability to sell into specific markets. A big deal for us. We look foolish.”

Global complexities

Communication aside, Brandt and university officials are making a practical argument about why they’ve pursued international agreements.

There are two issues at play — international quarantines and grower licensing — and both factor into the protection of intellectual property.

WA 38 is a managed release rather than an open release. Growers in North America but outside of Washington must wait at least 10 years before growing the variety due to its U.S. patent and trademark.

Washington growers are scheduled to plant the first commercial blocks in 2017, while growers in Pennsylvania, New York or other apple-producing states will have to wait until 2027 at least.

However, preserving the variety overseas is a different ballgame due to the complexities of global intellectual property agreements.

“There’s no such thing as a worldwide patent and worldwide trademark,” said Albert Tsui, a patent attorney for the university, at a field day in Quincy, Washington.

Instead, the university must seek plant breeders’ rights under international treaties, namely UPOV, the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

In UPOV signatory countries, breeders have six years from the first commercial sale offering of their new variety to apply for plant breeder’s rights.

In the case of Cosmic Crisp, that six-year clock started in June 2014, when the university held a drawing among Washington growers to decide who would get the first limited supply of start-up wood for 2017 plantings.

To start that plant breeders’ rights process, though, those other countries must have plant material to quarantine and keep in their repositories while authorities determine if the variety is truly distinct and stable.

In most UPOV territories, Brandt has no legal obligation to go further, such as licensing a commercial grower, said Steve Hutton, the sole U.S. board member of CIOPORA, an international ornamental and fruit plant breeder advisory group based in Berlin.

“As long as you’re within that six-year period then you have complete control of that variety,” said Hutton, CEO of Star Roses & Plants, a Pennsylvania ornamental nursery. “Then it becomes a business decision, not a legal decision, what you do with it.”

However, as a practical matter, most breeders do offer licenses to international growers to secure the help of a steward to protect the variety from pirated propagation, Brandt said.

Licensing growers to produce and sell the apple gives those growers incentive to be a watchdog for violations.

“They’re involved with the everyday commercialization,” Brandt said. “They know what’s going on. They’ll hear real quickly if somebody is infringing on that.”

PVM would have trouble keeping tabs on European growers from Yakima. “It’s not practical, not realistic,” Brandt said.

Also, Brandt does not want to risk legal challenges in other nations, which may want their farmers to have a chance to grow a variety in return for the expense and hassle of screening it and protecting it. He suspects some nations may interpret UPOV’s requirements differently than Hutton from CIOPORA.

Applying for plant breeders’ rights and sending wood overseas is an expensive process, Brandt said. “WSU has an expectation to receive a return on their investment.”

Indeed, universities and other private breeders often license new varieties internationally.

“We believe that global markets for perishable goods are often best served by local producers rather than solely U.S.-based producers,” said Thomas Hutton (unrelated to Steve Hutton), operations director and chief of staff of the University of Minnesota office of commercialization in an email.

Even Honeycrisp, an open variety in the United States, is propagated and sold only through licensed companies in the European Union, South Africa and New Zealand.

All Minnesota growers are eligible to produce the varieties, but the university seeks more production and marketing capacity to commercialize its varieties such as SweeTango and Rave than Minnesota alone can provide.

“Minnesota is not a large-volume producer of apples and so cannot supply the necessary quantities to support a national or international program,” Thomas Hutton said.

Leith Gardner, a private cherry breeder in Modesto, California, uses international licenses to maximize sales of her varieties but tries to work only in nations that have a track record of respecting intellectual property and don’t compete directly with California. Even with licensees, her company, Zaiger Genetics, struggles sometimes to stamp out piracy.

“There’s no 100 percent in anything,” she said.

David Cain, another California cherry breeder, echoed Brandt’s cost concern. Hiring attorneys overseas costs money, so breeders naturally want to work with a licensee to generate sales.

“Patent attorneys aren’t cheap,” he said.

Cosmic so far in the world economy

So far, Proprietary Variety Management has sent between 10 and 20 Cosmic buds to quarantines in the Netherlands to satisfy European Union requirements for the Italian licenses, as well as Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The facilities are rough equivalents to the United States’ Clean Plant Network.

Plants typically spend one or two years in quarantine, Brandt said. Then begins a “grow-out” period to boost the supply of stock trees in the nurseries, as well as the trees for repositories, Brandt said.

Last year, PVM signed an agreement with VOG and VI.P, two closely related fruit cooperatives in South Tyrol, Italy, the first and only license holders outside the state of Washington so far. Commercial plantings may still be five years away, Brandt said, with the first harvest a few years beyond that.

The two Italian companies will operate under strict rules, Brandt said, though he declined to reveal specifics.

They may only grow a certain acreage under certain conditions and sell the apple only in Europe and North Africa, regions in which they already market. PVM and the university have chances to “reconsider” the contract each time the companies reach certain “milestones,” Brandt said.

If they meet the requirements, they will remain the exclusive European Union licensees of Cosmic Crisp, Brandt said.

PVM is actively seeking similar license arrangements in other parts of the world on behalf of the university, Brandt said.

“The size of scope of this project does present a learning curve for all of us,” Brandt said.

Article by Ross Courtney, Good Fruit Grower




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.