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