HORT SHOW DAY 2: AFTERNOON WRAP

A panel of growers shared their experiences managing crop load during today’s afternoon session at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association annual meeting.

Everything is based on having a bloom target, Washington State University researcher Matt Whiting said in opening the session.

Washington Fruit and Produce determines trunk cross sectional area to determine crop load in years one through six in an orchard, to ensure a young block isn’t overcropped, slowing growth, Andrew Del Rosario said. Mike Robinson of BMR Orchards said he follows a similar path, though more informally, without advanced spreadsheets to track all of the findings. “How do you get a consistent crop? Part of it is getting pruning right and having a plan,” he said.

Brent Huck of Stemilt noted growers must first make sure the tree is balanced, with competition limbs, otherwise the numbers will be skewed.

WSU’s Vince Jones reminded growers about models available under the Decision Aid System, including additional flower phenology data—three cultivars already with five more in progress, such as the new WSU-bred apple variety WA 38, to be sold under the name Cosmic Crisp. Honeybee foraging models are also available, as well as models for sunburn browning, storage scald and various diseases and pests.

Article by Shannon Dininny, Good Fruit Grower

Cosmic Crisp To Be The New "IT" Apple

Which will make for healthier apples -- old favorites, and new kinds, like the highly anticipated one being developed in Washington State. Grower Scott McDougall is betting the orchard that the Cosmic Crisp will be the new "It" apple when it rolls out in 2019.

"There's so much excitement over it that, literally, there will be 12 million to 13 million trees planted within the next three to four years," he said. 

With its sparkling, rosy cheeks, the Cosmic Crisp is pomological royalty, descended from the beloved Honey Crisp, and the result of more than 20 years of breeding at Washington State University's Tree Fruit Research Center, where scientists test for firmness, juiciness, and taste.

Article by CBS News

Washington apple industry’s new super star

The Cosmic Crisp has all the makings of a super star and will replace Red Delicious and other varieties whose popularity has flagged in recent years.

Royalities from the Cosmic Crisp™ will help fund Washington State University programs such as apple breeding. Photo by Dan Wheat,  Capital Press .

Royalities from the Cosmic Crisp™ will help fund Washington State University programs such as apple breeding. Photo by Dan Wheat, Capital Press.

The Washington state apple industry is re-inventing the way it does business. The industry is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a radically different strategy for introducing a new variety of apple, the Cosmic Crisp.

A cross between the Enterprise and the Honeycrisp varieties, Cosmic Crisp is easier to grow and store than most other varieties. Most importantly, consumer focus groups have given it top ratings for taste and texture.

The Cosmic Crisp has all the makings of a super star and will replace Red Delicious and other varieties whose popularity has flagged in recent years.

Apple varieties typically take many years before they reach a critical mass. The Cosmic Crisp’s introduction will shift that process to fast-forward. This spring about 50 Washington growers chosen in a drawing planted 630,000 Cosmic Crisp trees. About 10 million more trees will go into the ground in the next two years.

In 2019 Cosmic Crisp will make its commercial debut with 200,000, 40-pound boxes. That will jump to 1.9 million boxes the next year, 5 million in 2021 and 9 million in 2022, marking the fastest ramp-up of a new apple variety in history.

Ultimately, industry leaders hope to sell 30 million boxes or more each year.

The main question that remains is price. Assuming consumers are willing to pay a premium price similar to what they pay for Honeycrisp, the new apple will become a success. But even at lower prices the Cosmic Crisp will be a boon to the industry.

The Cosmic Crisp is different because it was developed by Washington State University breeders. That allows WSU and the state’s apple industry to retain control of it and the royalties it generates.

The royalty is $1 for every tree sold and 4.75 percent of the price of every box that sells for more than $20. One-fifth of the royalty will go to commercializing and promoting the apple.

Most importantly, half of the royalty will go to WSU plant breeding programs, with most of that going to apple breeding. The remaining royalty will go to the WSU Office of Commercialization, the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and the breeders.

This investment in turn will establish a bigger pipeline for developing more new apple varieties in the future.

Our hope is the Cosmic Crisp will be a roaring success, but our further hope is that success will provide the resources that allow WSU’s plant breeders to develop important new varieties of apples and other crops.

One apple industry leader said the Cosmic Crisp could help Washington become “the Silicon Valley of apple breeding.”

That’s a bold statement, but it’s also one that’s achievable.

Article by Capital Press

Cosmic tips to growing WA 38

Stefano Musacchi, Washington State University horticulturist and endowed chair in tree fruit physiology and management, discusses fruit spacing of the Cosmic Crisp in September at the Sunrise research orchard near Wenatchee.. Photo by Ross Courtney,  Good Fruit Grower .

Stefano Musacchi, Washington State University horticulturist and endowed chair in tree fruit physiology and management, discusses fruit spacing of the Cosmic Crisp in September at the Sunrise research orchard near Wenatchee.. Photo by Ross Courtney, Good Fruit Grower.

The first commercial trees were planted this spring of the new apple variety WA 38, following nearly a decade of research into the horticultural traits at four research plantings and the storage behavior of the fruit.

Developed by Washington State University and marketed under the brand name Cosmic Crisp, the WA 38 has unique behavior compared to most scion varieties.

Those of us who’ve worked with the trees in the field have found the variety to be grower friendly, but for those growers who’ve just planted their trees, here are the top five tips for the first year:

Never forget that WA 38 is a Type 4 tree that produces a lot of blind wood, and growers don’t want to sacrifice productive space to blind wood, particularly in a fruit wall. To avoid blind wood, you should…

  • Prune. The variety has the potential to produce feathers, and you should cut them back to four to six buds, cutting the terminal 1 foot from the top of the central leader.
     
  • Never bend the branches below 90 degrees, which both creates blind wood and the potential for the tree to become a biennial producer very quickly. WA 38, in particular, has a huge capacity to produce flowers, and because it’s producing flowers on one-year wood, growers could see an excess of flowers one year, followed by a dramatic reduction the following year.
     
  • Don’t crop in the first year. If you have a wonderful tree, wait until at least the second year to crop.
     
  • And remember, WA 38 usually sets just a single fruit or two fruit per cluster. That means thinning has to be really targeted, on the basis of flower distribution and fruit set.

It’s also important to remember that WA 38 requires a little bit more space, about 10 percent more, compared to other varieties. It’s a vigorous tree and needs adequate light for the bi-color fruit to color, so prune to allow more space to reduce the number of leaves and the amount of shade in the canopy. •

Article by Stefano Musacchi on Good Fruit Grower


Stefano Musacchi, Ph.D., is an associate professor and endowed chair in tree fruit physiology and management at Washington State University in Wenatchee, Washington. He can be reached at stefano.musacchi@wsu.edu

New apple varieties and new orchards come to Kittitas

Recently planted apples trees cover a hillside along Payne Road in the Badger Pocket area, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Photo by Brian Myrick, Daily Record.

Recently planted apples trees cover a hillside along Payne Road in the Badger Pocket area, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Photo by Brian Myrick, Daily Record.

Apple orchards continue to expand in Kittitas County as fruit companies buy hay fields and replant them with new, and never before seen, varieties of fruit.

Recently planted apples trees cover a hillside along Payne Road in the Badger Pocket area, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Photo by Brian Myrick, Daily Record.

Recently planted apples trees cover a hillside along Payne Road in the Badger Pocket area, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. Photo by Brian Myrick, Daily Record.

A big reason for the change is because of the weather conditions in Kittitas County, which are milder than areas like Yakima, said Rafael Garcia, area manager for the Zirkle Fruit Company in Kittitas County. Honeycrisp and similar varieties grow too big in hotter weather.

“The quality of the fruit that we’re picking is really good and that’s why we’re putting more orchards in here,” Garcia said. “Because the summer is shorter and we can control the size better.”

Zirkle Fruit Company has around 600 acres of land in Kittitas County and the company is putting in new orchards up on Payne Road, he said.

Next year the company might also start planting cosmic crisp in Kittitas County, Garcia said. A new variety of apple created by Washington State University that is a cross between the enterprise and a honeycrisp varieties. The company plans on establishing around 100 acres next year, but hasn’t decided the trees’ exact locations.

Cosmic Crisp™ brand apples were created by the Washington State University tree fruit breeding program by crossing an enterprise apple with a honeycrisp. The apples trees will be released in a limited number to growers in 2017.

Cosmic Crisp™ brand apples were created by the Washington State University tree fruit breeding program by crossing an enterprise apple with a honeycrisp. The apples trees will be released in a limited number to growers in 2017.

Cosmic Crisp

The cosmic crisp apple was created by Washington State University’s tree fruit breeding program and the research was funded by Washington state apple growers, said Kathryn Grandy, director of marketing and operations with Propriety Variety Management.

Propriety Variety Management was selected by Washington State University to market the new apple, she said. The variety has a more firm texture and crisp bite and so far has received positive reviews. It will be grown exclusively by Washington farmers.

“When I’ve eaten a cosmic crisp one of the things I like personally the skin is firm where it protects the apple,” Grandy said. “It’s got really crispy, firm, white flesh. You sink your teeth in it there is an audible crunch and then the burst of juice.”

The apple gets its name from the yellow speckles on its dark red skin, which almost look like a starburst pattern.

The main benefits to the fruit is that it stores longer than other varieties and is less susceptible to diseases like water core and bitter pit, she said.

“People really love red apples and they will be available year round and in a large enough supply that we can really fill orders with the large retailers across the country,” Grandy said.

Washington apple growers needed a new variety of apple to excite the market, she said. Interest in types like red delicious has started to die off, but Washington state still produces close to 70 percent of all the apples in the United States.

“Growers are pulling the trees out because the consumer taste buds have changed a lot and people want a firmer apple, a crisper apple and far juicer and sweet,” Grandy said.

There is a lot of potential for the apple to take off in markets both domestically and internationally, she said. Washington remains a prime region due to its healthy soils, warm days and cool nights.

About 600,000 to 700,000 of the apple trees will be planted this year. Next year that number will go up to 1.5 million and the trend will continue for several years to come.

Article by Tony Buhr, Daily Record

This Is What It Looks Like When A New Apple Comes To Town

Apricot trees are removed to make way for Cosmic Crisp. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Apricot trees are removed to make way for Cosmic Crisp. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Apple growers in Washington state, who dominate American apple production, are starting to plant a new kind of apple. It's the fastest launch of a new variety in history.

These farmers have been looking for a new variety to grow. Older types of apples, like Red Delicious, have fallen out of favor among American consumers. So growers are ripping out old fruit trees — in this case, apricot trees — to make way for an apple variety called Cosmic Crisp. It's the most successful result so far of an apple breeding effort that Bruce Barritt began at Washington State University more than 20 years ago.

Bruce Baritt, retired apple breeder. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Bruce Baritt, retired apple breeder. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Barritt selected the tree called WA 38 — now branded as Cosmic Crisp — from among thousands of seedings that he created by cross-pollinating the blossoms of parent trees. Cosmic Crisp, he says, preserves its taste better than any other variety during months of storage. "Crispness, juiciness, acidity, sugar; all that combined just doesn't exist in any other variety," he says.

Cosmic Crisp was just released for commercial planting, and this spring, apple growers are planting all the trees that they can get their hands on. They've reportedly ordered 12 million Cosmic Crisp trees for planting over the next few years.

Workers and freshly planted Cosmic Crisp trees in an orchard owned by McDougall and Sons, near Wenatchee, WA. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Workers and freshly planted Cosmic Crisp trees in an orchard owned by McDougall and Sons, near Wenatchee, WA. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Replanting can cost more than $50,000 per acre. Farmers say that they'll need premium prices for these apples in order to recoup that investment. If Cosmic Crisp apples sell only for the same price as, say, Gala apples, "it'll be a wreck," says farmer Jan Luebber. So these new plantings are a big gamble for apple growers.

The Cosmic Crisp mother tree. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

The Cosmic Crisp mother tree. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Every Cosmic Crisp tree is derived from this original "mother tree," which still stands where it was planted 20 years ago, in a research orchard managed by Washington State University. It's been reproduced through old-fashioned cloning techniques, grafting buds from one tree onto existing apple tree roots. Those buds grow into copies of the original tree.

Tree nurseries like Willow Drive Nursery, in the town of Ephrata, Wash., play a key role in the Cosmic Crisp launch. They reproduce these trees on a massive scale, growing new trees from each bud that forms on existing trees in their "mother orchard." Each fall, nurseries dig up these small trees and move them into cold storage, ready for planting in orchards the following spring.

Cosmic Crisp trees ready for planting at Willow Drive Nursery in Ephrata, WA. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Cosmic Crisp trees ready for planting at Willow Drive Nursery in Ephrata, WA. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

The first Cosmic Crisp apples will be available for sale in the fall of 2019. Within a few years, Washington's apple growers may know whether they bet they've placed on this new variety will pay off.

Apples put out for taste tests are (from left): Honeycrisp, Jazz, Gala, Red Delicious, and Cosmic Crisp. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Apples put out for taste tests are (from left): Honeycrisp, Jazz, Gala, Red Delicious, and Cosmic Crisp. Photo by Dan Charles, NPR.

Article by Dan Charles, Northwest Public Radio

The Buzz is Growing for Cosmic Crisp

WA 38 during a pre-harvest preview of the variety in Prosser, Washington on September 17, 2014/ Photo by TJ Mullinax, Good Fruit Grower.

WA 38 during a pre-harvest preview of the variety in Prosser, Washington on September 17, 2014/ Photo by TJ Mullinax, Good Fruit Grower.

Cosmic Crisp has been a huge topic among growers for years, and now the variety is gaining profile in the general media.

National Public Radio sent a reporter to Wenatchee, Washington, to interview growers and researchers about the apple. That’s helpful for Washington growers, who will have nine million Cosmic Crisp trees growing within three years.

Cosmic Crisp is exciting in several ways, for what it means to the industry and for its expected success with consumers. How marketers will engage consumers is described in our forthcoming June issue. Meanwhile, here’s what NPR said about the apple.

Article by Casey Corr, Good Fruit Grower