YAKIMA, Wash. — The third season of the Opal apple should give more consumers the opportunity to be fans of the yellow variety, with bigger volume in 2011 and even more output expected in coming years.
“We’re trying to ramp up production quickly,” said Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima. The firm has the North American exclusive rights to market the variety, which originated in the Czech Republic.
Mathews said Opal production was dinged with freezing temperatures in the November 2010.
“We will have 40,000 tray-pack equivalents this year,” Mathews said. There was a lot of excitement about the Opal variety in various markets around the country where it was allocated last year.
“We delivered small volumes to many places across the U.S.,” Mathews said. He said there were a lot of very positive comments about Opal in food blogs and social media for the bright yellow variety.
“Yellow used to mean an overripe golden delicious, but yellow in this apple means it is firm and non-browning when you cut it,” Mathews said.
A cross between a golden delicious and a Topaz, the Opal is known for its bright color, crunchy texture and tangy flavor. It was first produced in Europe in 2000.
Opal will be harvested in October but will be mostly marketed after Christmas through May. “We set f.o.b. (prices) so that retailers can price the Opal in the higher tier, the $2.29 per pound tier at retail,” Mathews said.