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News / Northwest

A new apple is headed to Washington orchards, with a naming contest planned in 2024

By Jasper Kenzo Sundeen, Yakima Herald-Republic
Published: December 13, 2023, 10:14am

A new apple is headed to Washington orchards.

Researchers from Washington State University shared information about WA 64, a cross between Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink apples, at last week’s Washington State Tree Fruit Association meeting. The sweet-tart apple could hit orchards in 2026 and supermarkets in 2029, presenters said.

WSU researchers and staff introduced the apple, outlined the timeline for production and distribution and asked that growers support those efforts. WA 64, first crossbred in 1998, has been researched extensively for more than two decades.

A name will be developed in spring 2024 through a naming contest and distribution of the apple to growers will begin in 2026.

“We’ve looked at this apple for a number of years and at a number of different sites,” said Kate Evans, a professor based at WSU’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

WSU staff members said a licensee to help distribute and sell the new apple is being selected. Presenters projected the first commercially available harvest to come in 2029.

Evans outlined WA 64’s attributes and said it was similar to Golden Delicious apples and trees. It’s a small to medium sized, pink blushed apple. Evans noted its firmness and crispiness from harvest to storage and refrigeration.

WSU researchers have conducted taste tests in Yakima and Wenatchee and Evans said people had generally favored the apple compared to Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink varieties, particularly when it came to texture.

“One thing we’ve found about this variety is it has fabulous firmness retention,” Evans said. “Every time we’ve put this one out, we’ve had good responses.”

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Evans said WA 64 was first budded in 2001 after being crossbred in 1998. It has since been through multiple phases of study. Evans said WA 64 has little preharvest drop, self-thins relatively easily and is easy to pick.

The apple will be a Washington exclusive, similar to Cosmic Crisp, said Jeremy Tamsen, a director of innovation and commercialization at the university. Since the Cosmic Crisp was financed in part by Washington apple growers, they have exclusive right to produce Cosmic Crisps for at least the first 10 years.

Cosmic Crisp also came from WSU, and was first known as WA 38. It was released in 2013 and was first sold to consumers in 2019.

Deah McGaughey, who also works on commercialization at WSU, said proposals for directing the apple’s commercialization are being evaluated by a cultivar licensing committee. The winner of that process will be required to create fair access to the apple for Washington growers, manage the intellectual property and royalties of WA 64 and release it internationally while protecting Washington growers.

Members of the public can get involved in the process in the spring, when a contest to name WA 64 will begin.

“We want to have a good apple, we want to have a good name for it. We want people to remember it so they purchase it again,” Tamsen said.

Evans said the next opportunity for members of the public to try the apple will come in late January in Wenatchee.

“We’re really trying to get consumers to eat apples,” Evans said. “And if we get better apples, people will eat more of them.”

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