WSU Introduces 'Sunrise Magic'

WSU fruit breeders will name their latest variety of apple after a natural phenomenon: the sunrise.

The new partnership between WSU researchers and Proprietary Variety Management (PVM) expects to give the Sunrise Magic major commercial success.

PVM is an organization that helps fruit-breeding teams assimilate their new varieties into the marketplace through marketing operations.

Cristy Warnock, operations manager at PVM, coordinated and observed two focus groups in Spokane and Seattle. The light, blush color reminded participants of a pleasant sunrise at an orchard, Warnock said.

“It is mild and refreshing,” Warnock said. “It would be a light way to get a fresh start to your day.”

The entire development of the brand took just over a year, Warnock said.

Albert Tsui, technology transfer coordinator for the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), said the Sunrise Magic is currently growing in nurseries in Wenatchee, Washington. It is expected to reach the shelves of local grocery outlets in less than two years, Tsui said.

Tsui said the goal of the marketing strategy is to commercialize the variety. This variety of apple is especially crisp and has longer shelf life than most apples, Tsui said.

WSU horticulture researcher Bruce H. Barritt invented the Sunrise Magic, formally known as the WA 2. Barritt was also involved in the recently developed “Cosmic Crisp” apple.

According to Barritt’s research publication, the WA 2 is a crossbreed between Splendour and Gala apples, both of which have reached great commercial success.

Barritt’s publication said the WA 2 seed was collected in 1994 from the fruit of a Splendour tree. In September 1995, a bud from the seedling reached “M9 rootstock,” an early stage in apple tree development, and the young tree was relocated to an evaluation orchard.

“It is a very long process,” Tsui said. “Apple breeding takes a minimum of a decade.”

Sunrise Magic is distinct from commercially grown apples, like Fuji and Gala, in that it has more balanced levels of sugar and acidity, Barritt’s publication said. This gives the apple outstanding texture.

According to Barritt’s publication, second generation WA 2 trees were planted near Washington cities Chelan, Wenatchee and Basin City. The trees were found to be essentially similar to the originally budded tree.

Article by Forrest Holt, The Daily Evergreen