Are new Honeycrisp crosses solving any problems for Northeast growers?

Are new Honeycrisp crosses solving any problems for Northeast growers?

On last week’s #EcoFruitFriday post about the “curse” of the Honeycrisp, someone asked us: are new apple varieties made from Honeycrisp crosses solving any problems? Short answer: yes! But you know we like long answers here, so…

 

If you haven’t had one yet, you probably will soon.

The EverCrisp is a rising star in today’s culture of trendy apples. A cross between Fuji and Honeycrisp, it actually isn’t wildly different than it’s famous parent- that’s kind of the point.

Honeycrisps, sweet and super crunchy as they are, have their flaws. One of the many issues we talked about last week was their difficulty keeping in CA (Controlled Atmosphere) storage. Consumers expect year-round availability of high-quality apples, and some varieties are more reliable than others. A Honeycrisp in September could taste noticably different in a few weeks, never mind months. Like our commenter suggested, the EverCrisp is trying to solve that problem.

Thanks to traits from its less famous parent, Fuji, EverCrisp apples keep exceptionally well even outside of CA. They’re more durable in terms of growing, too. The variety was developed in Minnesota, where orchardists cited an underlying motivation that our farmers are all too familiar with: their climate is often a handicap. So many industry decisions, like what varieties to grow, are made solely by Washington growers in their Washington climate. EverCrisp is better suited for humidity and more practical to grow for climates like ours. That makes it less risky and more cost-effective than Honeycrisp, all while providing the texture and flavor that eaters love.

The EverCrisp is especially exciting for the Northeast because of another new variety you’ll be seeing soon: the Cosmic Crisp. A cross between Enterprise and Honeycrisp, this apple was designed to do exactly what we just talked about– give a better shelf life to a similar eating experience.

 

Major differences arise between the two new varieties as we leave the world of taste and enter the world of business.

EverCrisp is available to any grower who pays a fee to the Midwest Apple Improvement Association. Cosmic Crisp can only be grown by farmers located in Washington State.

Those decisions were made by the respective inventors of the apples, and work within the fascinating framework of “club apples”. With a massive strategy and a 10 million dollar marketing campaign behind the Cosmic Crisp, it’s posed to exceed Honeycrisp sales by 2023.

That’s why some have characterized EverCrisp as “the East coast’s response to the Cosmic Crisp”. While apple growers are more focused on collaboration and support than drama and competitiveness, I am eager to see how this dichotomy plays out. Here’s my perspective: our growers already have a hard time in an industry dominated by Washington State, and we have a hard time advocating for local in a global food system. If Cosmic Crisp becomes the “new Honeycrisp”, and everyone wants to buy it, and none of our farmers are allowed to grow it at all… what will that mean?

It’s a conversation I’ll be trying to have over the next few weeks with orchards in our Eco program. Clark Brothers Orchards in Ashfield, Massachusetts, is an Eco-certified grower that will be selling Evercrisp this season. Being a late variety, it’ll help them extend supply, and they’ll start shipping to Whole Foods in a few weeks– tell your store you’re looking for them! You can keep up with Clark Brothers Orchards here, and see what other varieties each of our 2019 Eco growers have to offer.

 

Go to the Facebook post and tell us what you think!

Want to learn more about apple breeding? Curious about our perspective on club apples?

Leave a comment on our #EcoFruitFriday posts to let us know what we should talk about next.