Empire apples just got some new competition in New York State.
SnapDragon and RubyFrost, formerly known as “NY1” and “NY2,” were dubbed with their official names Thursday after years of development and testing through Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.
The two new apples join a long Cornell tradition, which has created 68 apple varieties since the 1890s. Names like Empire, Cortland and Macoun trace their existence to Cornell. They are among the more than 7,500 apple varieties around the world.
The new apple breeds will only be grown in New York State for several years, according to Susan Brown, the Cornell horticulture professor who bred the new apples.
“They were born and bred here,” Brown said. “It’s only right that they’re grown here.”
Cornell, alongside the New York Apple Growers, established an exclusive licensing agreement and managed release for the apples, which will eventually be available to grow outside New York State, but limited to North America.
Brown thinks the new apples are going to give New York growers “a competitive edge” in the apple market.
Brown expects the new apples to be well liked by children because they’re crispier than apples currently available. She said all consumers judge apples based on crispness, juiciness and flavor.
Brown developed the apples over the past decade and created them by putting the pollen of one type of apple on the flower of another type of apple. She sought out an ideal combination of traits that allowed for better storage life and disease resistance.
The SnapDragon apple has a longer shelf life than its parent, Honeycrisp. So retailers may be able to provide the new apple, which can be harvested in late September, for a longer period of time at a more consistent quality than other apples, Brown said.
SpanDragon also has a spicy-sweet flavor that researchers said was a big hit with taste testers.
Jeffrey Crist, vice chairman of the Apple Growers board of directors, noted the apple packs a “monster crunch.”
RubyFrost, which ripens later in the fall, stores well and will provide “a vitamin C boost” for consumers in the winter, Brown said. It’s a cross between the Autumn Crisp apple and the Braeburn apple, which is grown in New Zealand.
Crist noted RubyFrost sports a “deep red color” and a “well-balanced taste.”
In 2011, the new trees were first planted in orchards. Now, SnapDragon and RubyFrost trees cover 400 acres across New York State.
Growers have to pay royalties on the trees purchased, the amount of acres planted and the fruit produced. The money is used to market the new apple varieties and bolster Cornell’s apple-breeding program.
The current supply is not great enough to be carried in supermarket chains, but the new apples will be available at some Apple Growers farmers’ markets across the state in the fall, Crist said.
He and Brown expect the new apples to reach a larger distribution by 2015.
As one of the Appler Growers’ 140 growers, Crist said he’s excited to have new products to grow and market.