Cosmic Crisp Potential

 Jeff Samples, an agronomy consultant with Bleyhl Farm Service, scouts for damage and signs of disease and pests on the branches of Cosmic Crisp apple trees at a trellis training orchards at the Washington State University Irrigated Agricultur Research Extension Center in Prosser, Wash. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Washington State University and a Seattle-based company are in litigation about an agreement between the two. Photo by Shawn Gust,  Yakima Hearald-Republic.

Jeff Samples, an agronomy consultant with Bleyhl Farm Service, scouts for damage and signs of disease and pests on the branches of Cosmic Crisp apple trees at a trellis training orchards at the Washington State University Irrigated Agricultur Research Extension Center in Prosser, Wash. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Washington State University and a Seattle-based company are in litigation about an agreement between the two. Photo by Shawn Gust, Yakima Hearald-Republic.

It’s an apple that could upset the cart. Or at least disrupt it a bit.

Washington growers are so excited about the Cosmic Crisp’s potential, they already planted a half-million trees and plan to add another 5 million this year.

Consumers will have to wait until fall of 2019 before these new apples hit the marketplace. But behind the scenes, there’s a courtroom battle brewing between one of the state’s major universities and a Seattle agricultural technology company over who has the right to sell the trees.

But whatever happens, it’s not dampening growers’ enthusiasm for what  they see as a game-changing variety of apple.

“I’m excited to see how it will disrupt the apple market,” said Mark Hanrahan, a Buena grower who has planted the trees.

The apple

The story begins in 1998 when Washington State University professor Bruce Barritt crossed the Honey Crisp and Enterprise to create the Cosmic Crisp, named in part for the lenticels on its bright red skin and its crunchy texture.

But its qualities are more than skin deep.

“It has great flavor, very juicy,” said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communication. “From a retailer’s perspective, it has a great shelf life. It can be stored for a year or more” without losing flavor or texture.

Further, Cosmic Crisps don’t quickly turn brown quickly after being cut.

The apples could be worth a fortune. Many consumers, long weary of Washington’s once standard Red Delicious, have shown they are willing to pay more for new and better fruits. At one Yakima Valley store, Honey Crisp apples are sold for three times as much as Red Delicious. Growers are expected to produce 175,000 boxes of Cosmic Crisps in 2019, with projected crop yields of 13.5 million boxes in 2023, Brandt said.

Hanrahan said Cosmic Crisp represents a coordinated effort between the fruit industry and the university in developing and marketing a new variety.

The apple’s development was financed in part by a group of Washington apple growers, who in return will have exclusive right to produce Cosmic Crisps for at least 10 years in North America starting in 2019, Weiler said.

Among those preparing to plant this year is Scott McIlrath, a Naches area grower who hopes to plant trees this week.

“It has a lot of potential,” McIlrath said, noting its long shelf life.

Article by Donald W. Meyer, Yakima Herald

Planting Cosmic Crisp Trees

Washington orchard update

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The Superfresh Growers farm team is celebrating spring. "Honey bees have finished pollinating our apricot orchards and moved on to early-district cherry orchards." Snow continues to fall in the mountains, which helps store water that will be used to irrigate orchards in the summer months.

2018 is a big planting year for Cosmic Crisp apple, as Superfresh Growers continues to prep for the 2020 consumer introduction of this delicious apple. Years of planning goes into designing modern orchard systems, which take advantage of the latest technology and machinery for optimizing the efficiency and safety of orchard work. “The amount of detail is incredible,” describes Dave Gleason, Chief Horticulturist. “From checking how many inches and acres are in an orchard block, to accounting for surrounding roads and barriers.” The farm team also plans the most efficient systems for tractor and truck movement within the orchards.

Baby trees are dug in the fall, and put to sleep through the winter months in a cold, moist climate. In the summer months, the farm team awakens them by bringing them into a warm environment. The real magic happens once the trees are planted in warm, damp soil. Trees that look like dead sticks quickly come to life and start to bloom.

Following the planting, poles and wires are installed to support the baby trees. Irrigation lines are installed afterwards to ensure proper application of water and nutrients. The trees in our video will mostly likely be harvested on their third leaf, in 2021.

For more information on Superfresh Growers growing practices and see past Orchard Updates, visit superfreshgrowers.com

Article by Fresh Plaza

Supermarkets excited about new, bright red Cosmic Crisp apple

In the fall of 2019, American supermarkets will have a new apple on their shelves, and the new variety will be available for export markets a year after that. The Cosmic Crisp (TM) is an extension of the existing supply, Rebecca Lyons of Washington Apple Commission explains. Colour, flavour, shelf life; these are factors making the apple distinctive, she explains.  

The variety, originally named WA38, was developed by the tree fruit improvement programme of Washington State University..  “The parents of Cosmic Crisp™ are Honeycrisp and Enterprise, which give the large, juicy apple a firm and crisp texture, with the flavor an appetizing mix of sweet-tart.  It also has the characteristic of being naturally slow to brown when cut."

In recent years, many new varieties have been introduced. Why is the Cosmic Crisp (TM) distinctive? She admits that consumers are flooded by the amount of choice between the many available apple varieties. “Most of these new varieties are protected club varieties, which have a limited production by a limited number of growers, and sales are handled by one sales office,” she explains. “Cosmic Crisp(TM)  is a branded apple, but, unlike the proprietary varieties, it is available to any grower in the state of Washington, USA.. That means the variety will also be available from most, if not all, sales organisations in the state.”

Year-round availability

During the development of the variety, various testing orchards were planted. The first commercial orchards were planted in 2017, when 626,000 trees were planted. For this year, 5.2 million Cosmic Crisp trees were ordered, and for 2019, 4.1 million orders have been received. The first commercial harvest is expected in the autumn of 2019. “Volume will be limited in its first year, but we expect to market 5.1 million cartons (40lbs/18kg) by 2021.” It’s expected export will also pick up in 2020, due to the available volume combined with interest shown in the apple by international retailers.

September and October are the harvest months for this apple. Another positive characteristic is the apple’s good shelf life, according to Rebecca. The apples can be kept in storage for one year without losing their flavour or texture. “With this good storage characteristic, imports  ’won’t be needed. Besides, the global planting of Cosmic Crisp will be limited for the first ten years, and growers in Washington State will have the largest commercial volume available world-wide.”

Red eye-catcher

The apple is also being praised by retail. ”There  is a lot of excitement among US retailers for Cosmic Crisp ™”, Rebecca says. “It’s bright red in color, and very eye-catching on display.  It will make a nice change from the many bi-colored varieties currently on offer.”

Right now, people are working hard on the marketing strategy for the apple. Washington State University has appointed Proprietary Variety Management (PVM) to commercialize the apple. In cooperation with an industry advisory committee, packaging, labels and promotion material is now being developed. Rebecca doesn’t rule out a Euro-packaging in addition to the standard box (40 lbs per box). “Because it’s a brand, it’s important individual packers and exporters use a consistent design. It has to be clear to consumers that it’s a Cosmic Crisp (TM).”

Article by Rudolf Mulderj, Fresh Fruit Plaza

An Other Worldy Apple

BL: Welcome back to “Fruit Bites” brought to you by Valent U.S.A. Joining me again is Valent’s Allison Walston and this week, we’re talking popular apple varieties. So, Allison, what new varieties are gaining traction or might be on the horizon?

AW: Have you heard about the Cosmic Crisp apple?

BL: Well yes I have, but please, tell us more!

AW: Washington State University started developing the Cosmic Crisp apple back in 1998! It is a cross between an Enterprise and a Honeycrisp. The Cosmic Crisp website says “The 'Cosmic'… name was developed because of the “striking” lenticels on the apple surface… [that] look like starbursts ... 'Crisp' … links to its parent, 'Honeycrisp'.” It’s expected that nearly 5 million trees will be planted in 2018 ALONE putting estimates at 11 million trees in 3 years in Washington. The consumer expectation for taste is supposed to be “other worldly”. Such excitement for an apple! Large, juicy, exceptional flavor and slowness to brown after cutting. The apples should be available for purchase in 2019.

Interview by Bob Larson, Ag Info Radio News Network