YAKIMA — While Cosmic Crisp has received national attention lately, several other apple varieties have seen a more significant presence in the marketplace in recent years:
Honeycrisp: Often considered the standard for new varieties, the University of Minnesota-developed apple offers consumers a crunchy and juicy taste. It was a notable alternative to mild-flavored Red Delicious, the dominant apple variety when Honeycrisp was released in 1991. While it took more than a decade for Washington state growers to fully embrace the variety, namely due to challenges in growing the apple, it is now one of the state’s top five varieties. Honeycrisp is expected to make up around 12 percent of the 2019 fresh crop. About 137.3 million 40-pound boxes are expected to be harvested and shipped this year, according to an initial estimate by the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
Jazz: This apple variety was first developed in collaboration with orchardists and apple marketer ENZA in New Zealand. The apple launched commercially in 2004. Growers are required to secure rights from ENZA. The apple offers a juicy and crisp flavor and has red and maroon flushes over shades of green, yellow and orange. In 2017, Washington shipped 1.3 million boxes.
Ambrosia: Nearly 1.7 million 40-pound boxes were shipped in 2017, the latest year figures were available from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. More growers in the U.S. are now able to plant the apple, which was developed in British Columbia in the 1990s, with the patent expiring in 2017. Previously, Wenatchee-based McDougall & Sons held the exclusive U.S. license for more than a decade. The mid-season apple is red with yellow patches and has a sweet flavor.
Envy: This apple was also developed and marketed by ENZA. Commercial distribution started in 2012. In 2017, 984,000 boxes were shipped, more than double the 450,000 boxes from just two years earlier. Envy has a ruby red skin with green undertones and has a sweet and crisp taste.
Pacific Rose: This is the smallest producing variety of the three from New Zealand. ENZA offers the rights for the apple. The apple is often compared to the Fuji variety for its sweet flavor. It debuted in North America in the mid-1990s. In 2017, 521,000 boxes were shipped.
Other proprietary brands: Fruit companies throughout Washington state sell other boutique licensed varieties, too. Some have high production numbers like the ones mentioned above while others are more niche varieties. The list of such branded varieties is many and the list is getting longer but here are a few: Wenatchee-based Stemilt Growers has licenses for SweeTango and Rave, two early season varieties developed by the University of Minnesota. Yakima-based Domex Superfresh Growers has the exclusive North American license to market Autumn Glory, which promises a sweet flavor with hints of cinnamon and caramel. Rainier Fruit Co. has been the exclusive supplier for Lady Alice, which was developed in a Gleed orchard. The apple promises an heirloom-like quality that makes it good for both eating and baking.