New apple varieties are becoming more important for Illinois growers

Once-common apple varieties are becoming less and less popular today, being replaced by newer varieties that better suit consumer preferences and farmer needs. This means that stalwarts like Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith might have seen their best days.

Chris Eckert of Eckert Orchards in Belleville, Illinois: “Red Delicious is losing popularity pretty quickly. Trees on a lot of acres have been taken out of the ground.”

Even relatively newer varieties such as Fuji and Gala are fading in the marketplace. They are being supplanted with apples that have traits favorable to consumers and farmers. One example is EverCrisp, developed through the efforts of the Midwest Apple Improvement Association. Jim Eckert, Chris’ uncle, was instrumental in breeding efforts that produced EverCrisp.

Mohammad Babadoost, a University of Illinois plant pathologist who specializes in fruits and vegetables, said efforts to create new varieties with grower-friendly traits continue. But taste and texture may trump other considerations.


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