Posted: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:18 AM
Dan Wheat/Capital Press
WSU apple breeders Bruce Barritt, retired, and Kate Evans offer the WA 38 apple for taste testing at the Washington State Horticultural Association annual meeting in Yakima, Wash., in December 2010. They said it doesn't brown, when sliced, at least for a day.
By DAN WHEAT
WENATCHEE, Wash. -- The Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute is considering applying to manage the commercialization of a new apple variety being released by Washington State University.
"Our members are discussing it at the moment. I'd say we're 50-50. I suspect a lot of people right now are thinking about it," said Bill Howell, managing director of NNII in Prosser.
The dark-red apple stores well and has "a high level of sweetness and a good kick of tartness," said Katherine Evans, tree fruit breeder at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.
"Our feeling is that when it comes to taste, texture and beauty the WA 38 has no equal in today's marketplace," she said.
The NNII, an association of commercial tree fruit nurseries, has managed some releases of WSU cherries and apricots since 1987. Among its members are those who believe the new apple variety will become a significant part of the Washington apple mix, Howell said.
WSU announced the release of the new variety March 11, requesting notice of intent from potential applicants by April 1 and setting a May 3 deadline for applications for an exclusive license to manage the contracting of propagation to nurseries and others, sublicensing to growers, managing trademark and collecting royalties.
The WSU Research Foundation, owner of the new variety, is asking qualified individuals, groups, individual companies, groups of companies and cooperatives to apply.
Organizations with lots of grower members may be more likely to apply than individual companies since all growers, packers and marketers would have the opportunity to grow, pack and sell the new variety, Howell said.
"It's not something we've discussed getting involved in, but I will take a look at it," said Kirk Mayer, manager of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association in Wenatchee.
Growers initially will pay royalties of $1 per tree or $1,000 per acre on trees they buy to plant and packers will pay 1 percent of FOB fruit sales.
More application criteria is available at: http://treefruit.wsu.edu.
WSU is not looking for the licensee to be involved in the sales or marketing of the fruit or the naming. It is now known by its breeding name, WA 38, but the foundation plans to name it by the June 24 licensee selection or before, Evans said.
Reasonable numbers for planting won't be available until 2015, she said.
WA 38 originated from a cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp in 1997 when Bruce Barritt, now an emeritus professor, was the WSU apple breeder.
WA 38 has been well received by the industry in taste testing at annual meetings of the Washington State Horticultural Association for several years, Evans said.
It is a little firmer than Honeycrisp, juicy and "retains crispness in the mouth rather than losing it," she said.
It has good resistance to sunburn, skin russet and bitter pit, an ailment of Honeycrisp, she said. It's flesh is very low in browning when cut giving it good potential for slicing and use in salads, she said. Another plus is that it is not harvested late when weather can be bad, but in late-September to mid-October when weather usually is better, she said.