Apple growers in Washington continue to experiment with new varieties and some companies are finding their own niche in a market that can sometimes be crowded. Evans Fruit Company has enjoyed success with a number of their “golden” apple varieties.
Jeannette Evans, Evans Fruit Company President, described the company's brands and varieties and their approach to the Washington apple market. "The Evans Fruit Company brands, which include Top Red, Top Gold, Galaxy, Flavorland & Flavor Crest, are trusted around the world for their consistently juicy, crunchy, flavorful characteristics," she said. "While many Northwest growers have converted orchards over to managed brands, Evans Fruit has maintained a substantial export & domestic business with these premium Washington varieties."
"In addition to these core apples, Evans has planted high-coloring Gale Galas and Aztec Fujis to round out the rest of the category inclusive of Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Jonagold and Honeycrisp," Suzanne Wolter, Marketing Director added. "We farm over 8,000 acres of large fruit blocks strategically located in prime growing regions around Eastern Washington. Over the decades, Evans Fruit developed a reputation for exceptionally consistent Washington apples becoming internationally known, first & foremost as mentioned, for their Red & Golden Delicious apples. Newer varieties, such as Smitten & Cosmic Crisp, are being planted to complement their existing diverse product mix."
Evans Fruit sees success in Jonagold
One of the varieties that Evans markets is the Jonagold, a cross between a Jonathan apple and a Golden Delicious. The 2017 season has just started and Wolter said they are seeing good color and sizes coming through. Yields are also looking steady as sales continue to be firm, thanks to customers seeking out this variety.
"Evans Fruit is deep into the 2017 harvest and excited about the new crop of Jonagolds arriving from the orchards," Mrs. Evans noted. "The first bins are peaking on 72, 80 & 88’s and as the season progresses we expect to begin running heavier on 88’s – 100’s.” The Jonagolds display an eye-catching, deep red color over a breaking yellow background, and the unique honey-tart flavor and crispy juiciness is a popular choice for even the most discerning new-crop apple consumer. In addition to Jonagold’s wonderful fresh eating appeal, many pie-making aficionados make sure to include the variety alongside Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and other regional standby’s as most apple category newcomers are best suited to fresh eating. Although Washington’s Jonagolds have declined the last few years due to orchard removal, Evans Fruit yields have remained steady and they are expecting a Jonagold crop similar in volume to 2016.
Higher elevation delivers special touch an old favorite
Among the more standard varieties, Evans Fruit also has a special standing in Golden Delicious. The company has been able to take advantage of different elevation levels on their farms which produces a blush color on the fruit depending on weather conditions. Once again, they have found a market of customers seeking out this color.
"We are particularly pleased with the color of this season's fruit which has developed rapidly in recent weeks from the cool temperatures," continued Wolter. "Finally, we had some cooler night temperatures, which will helped to bring on the color in many of the varieties. The weather has been especially conducive to developing a nice crop of prized Upper-Valley blush Golden Delicious. Approximately one third of Evans Fruit Company Golden Delicious orchards are located just west of Yakima. These higher elevation ranches tend to be cooler than other areas, which, given the right conditions, produce a nice blush over the beautifully clean golden fruit. This year, the conditions have been very favorable for the blush goldens and we expect to see a little more volume in the 2017 crop."
"Some retailers prefer the blush golden, especially in the more northern regions in the United States, from around Minnesota east to New England, as well as Toronto and Montreal in Canada," she added. "There are not many of them around, due to the specific growing conditions required. At this stage, we don't carry enough volume to expand to other parts of the world regularly, but it's an area we continue to monitor. We are delighted with the overall quality of harvested fruit. Premium pack-outs are up, sizing is slightly smaller and internal qualities are very good."
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Evans Fruit Company