(UPDATED COVERAGE, 11:20 a.m., June 13) Two leading Washington apple grower-shippers have been licensed to grow a red-fleshed apple.
Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers and Chelan-based Chelan Fresh Marketing will grow a red-fleshed variety under an agreement with Yakima, Wash.-based Proprietary Variety Management.
Stemilt plans to plant a small number of trees on a test basis in 2014, said Roger Pepperl, the company’s marketing director.
“It’s an apple we’re interested in, but we haven’t gotten very far,” Pepperl said. “It’s a long ways away from going to market. We’re very much at the experimentation stage.”
Even if Stemilt is happy with trials of the new apple, it wouldn’t be on retail shelves for three or four years, Pepperl said.
Tom Riggan, Chelan’s general sales manager, agreed that it’s too soon to tell whether the variety will succeed in different climates and when grown with different root stock.
But Riggan has eaten the variety two years in a row, and he said it looks better and tastes better than other red-fleshed apples he’s tried.
“We’re still in the test phase, but it shows some good promise.”
The red-fleshed variety is one of about a dozen Stemilt is now considering for commercial production.
This isn’t the first time the company has tried a red-fleshed variety.
“We haven’t found the right thing yet,” Pepperl said.
In addition to the novel color, a red-fleshed apple would likely have more antioxidants and could have what Pepperl called “dessert-quality flavors.”
Officials from Proprietary Variety Management did not return requests for comment.
The company was founded in 2012 to help fruit grower-shippers stay on the cutting edge of new varietal development. Its president and founder is Lynnell Brandt, president of Yakima, Wash.-based Pink Lady America LLC and Brandt’s Fruit Trees LLC.
The company’s general manager is John Reeves, who also serves as Pink Lady America’s general manager. Other officers include vice president Kevin Brandt, operations manager Cristy Warnock, comptroller Cindy Tissell and marketing manager Alan Taylor.