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New Washington apple variety making inroads in market
Whether it's to fill a gap in seasons, or to put a twist on flavor or texture, Washington apple growers are willing to try out new varieties and bring them out to market.
John Long, of L&M Companies, said that their Crimson Delight variety is aiming to make a more sustained appearance on the shelves of retailers. "The Crimson Delight variety is a Proprietary apple of Apple King, LLC and exclusively marketed by L&M Companies," he said. "The apple was developed in the state of Washington and is a cross breed between a Gala and a Splendor. It has a firm, dense texture similar to a Pink Lady or a Jazz apple but is sweeter than those varieties. It is juicy, sweet and full of flavor and we feel it is a standout among the newer varieties."
The Crimson Delight was initially offered as a winter season apple but production has since improved to enable a lengthier season. It still is a later maturing apple that also ships pretty well. "This is now our 3rd year in production," said Long. "As the first trees that were planted get older, production is increasing. Last year, there were 12,000 boxes of Crimson Delight produced by growers across Washington state. This year we expect 20,000 or more."
"Overall, the apple behaves very much like any other apple in the way it needs to be looked after," he continued. "It likes similar weather to other varieties but it is a late bloomer. Our harvest lasts from October 15 to the first week of November, being completed before the frosts arrive. Initially, we offered it as a winter apple as it stores well and peaks in flavor and sweetness from January and into February. As we have learned how to grow, harvest, store and pack the Crimson Delight better, we are now able to market it from November 1st right through to May."
Hope for a permanent place on supermarket shelves
As the trees mature and produce more fruit, the company is hoping that a sustained, substantial crop will encourage more large retailers to stock it on a more permanent basis. "One of the most difficult aspects of growing a proprietary crop is to get that exposure into the retail market," Long noted. "They generally only display the usual 8-10 varieties, so breaking into that market is tough."
"Having said that, the Crimson Delight has enjoyed good success," he added. "Consumers who try the apple, really enjoy the taste and it fits into the flavor profile they are looking for. They are also enthused by the fact that we source the apple from a number of small scale family farms of only a few hundred acres. We just need to get that volume up for retailers to be confident of a steady supply. Production will increase as the trees mature. We estimate that when the trees reach 5 or 6 years old and attain maximum production, we will have the ability to supply between 30,000 to 40,000 cartons from our group of farms. Additional new acreage is also being planted that will increase volumes over the next 5 years up to a million cartons. Our main focus right now is to continue to develop the fresh market for the Crimson Delight but we also see potential in the slicing apple market, thanks to the Crimson Delight's texture and flavor profile."
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