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Yakima firm to help with new apple variety

Dan Wheat

Capital Press

Washington State University has chosen a Yakima company to collect royalties and develop the trademark of a new apple variety.

WENATCHEE, Wash. — Proprietary Variety Management has been chosen by Washington State University to collect royalties and develop the trademark of a new Washington apple.

James Moyer, director of the Agricultural Research Center at WSU, made that announcement to about 1,000 tree fruit growers at the Washington State Horticultural Association annual meeting at the Wenatchee Convention Center, Dec. 2.

“Naming has been a real challenge. We don’t have a name yet but feel we are getting close,” Moyer said, noting that a marketing firm and focus groups are helping.

The apple is known only by its research name, WA 38. Moyer said he hopes a commercial name is chosen by June when the first growers are chosen by lottery.

Last spring, WSU officials hoped to have a name and program details worked out by July so budding of new trees could begin in August. It takes two years of growth to be ready for planting.

Proprietary Variety Management (PVM), of Yakima, was started in 2012 to help companies with the introduction, commercialization and marketing of new tree fruit varieties. It is owned by Lynnell Brandt, an orchardist and nurseryman of 40 years who also owns Brandt’s Fruit Trees, Pink Lady America and is a stockholder in Associated International Group of Nurseries, all of Yakima.

PVM will not be involved in the sales of WA 38. That will be done by individual tree fruit companies, Moyer said.

The Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute, in Prosser, will manage propagation of the WA 38 by nurseries and PVM will receive a percentage of WSU’s royalties for collecting royalties and developing the trademark, Moyer said.

The latter involves setting marketing standards for companies so they use similar information and to guard against trademark infringements, Moyer said.

Brandt could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this fall, Moyer announced WSU will conduct a two-tier lottery next year to award trees to growers since demand seems greater than supply. About 300,000 to 400,000 trees will be ready by 2017 and that won’t be enough, he has said. One tier of the lottery will be for growers wanting 15,000 to 20,000 trees, enough for about 10 acres, and the other category will be for growers wanting 4,000 to 5,000 trees, he said.

Supply should be enough in 2018 that a lottery won’t be needed, he said.

The WA 38 was bred from Enterprise and Honeycrisp in 1997 by Bruce Barritt, now retired but who then was then apple breeder at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. His successor, Katherine Evans, has said the WA 38 has many good attributes, including taste, texture and beauty that “has no equal in today’s marketplace.”

The WA 38 has many attributes of the Honeycrisp that consumers like with fewer horticultural challenges, some have said.


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