WENATCHEE, Wash. — Shelf life, quality, firmness and flavor all are important in picking new apple varieties, a panel of experts said at the Washington State Horticultural Association annual meeting.
When deciding what to spend $1 million or more on developing as a new variety, “good shelf life is one of the most important attributes,” said Dave Allan, of Allan Brothers, Naches.
“The problem is we pick it off the tree or out of cold storage and say it’s a good apple. We need to have five days of warm, room temperature and then ask if its still a good apple. They sit five days on a retail shelf,” Allan said.
Texture is next, he said, anything with a bit of mealiness, you discard. Crispness is better than firmness and all apples need some type of sweet in the sweet-tart ratio, he said.
“For me, texture is always most important but there has to be reasonable appearance for the consumer to want to buy it,” said Kate Evans, Washington State University tree fruit breeder.
Tim Welsh, varieties manager of Columbia Fruit Packers, Wenatchee, said Americans like sweet apples. Dessert quality is his top consideration, he said, lumping flavor in with texture. But one great-tasting apple looked awful, and appearance is important to sell, he said.
Columbia Fruit dropped one new variety because it didn’t generate excitement, Welsh said. Small growers have to appreciate risks and learning quickly that something may or may not succeed, he said.