Washington State University has chosen 24 Washington farmers to be the first to grow Cosmic Crisp, a new apple variety bred to thrive in Eastern Washington conditions.
The lucky 24 were randomly chosen for the right to buy the first available trees in a drawing of more than 445 interested orchardists earlier this summer.
WSU announced the growers Tuesday after finalizing agreements with each to grow the apple, which is expected to compete well with Honeycrisp, one of its parents. Columbia Basin farmers are among those who won the drawing.
The burgundy red apple shares the crisp texture of Honeycrisp, but is easier to grow, experts say. The Cosmic Crisp gets very little sunburn and the trees need less spraying, while Honeycrisp trees are susceptible to many disease and nutrient disorders, as well as sunburns.
WSU officials plan to have the first 300,000 trees available to those growers in spring 2017. The university is working with nurseries that are affiliated with the Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute to build up enough stock of the new trees.
Growers who will be able to buy 3,000 to 5,000 trees each include Leah Eddie of Grandview, Harris Farms of Kennewick, Jeff Freepons of Prosser, Mark Hanrahan of Wapato, Konnowac Orchards LLC of Wapato, Conor Kilian of Sunnyside, Dalbir Bains of Oroville, Brook Besor of Plymouth, Melissa Mathis of Mesa, Cowan Orchards Inc. of Leavenworth, Cox Canyon Vineyards of Ellensburg and Ross Montierth of Mesa.
Growers who will be able to buy up to 20,000 trees each include Double S Orchards LLC of Wenatchee, W.O. Terrace Heights LLC of Yakima, W.O. Maple Leaf LLC of Yakima, Kludt-Waldron Orchards Inc. of Manson, Weasel Ranch LLC of Yakima, Mustang Ranch of Othello, F. Lorraine Mathison Grantor Trust of Wenatchee, Bob Mathison of Wenatchee, Stephen van Someren Greve of Wenatchee, HLH Properties LLC of Yakima, Stemilt World Famous Compost LLC of Wenatchee and Lyall Family Farms of Grandview.
To be chosen, growers had to be Washington residents who have enough land to support the trees they are asking for. State growers who are not chosen in the drawing should be able to buy trees in 2018 and 2019.
Consumers won’t find many Cosmic Crisp apples until at least 2019.
The university cross-bred the new apple in 1997. Researchers have been working ever since to select what they call WA 38 and test it in Eastern Washington’s commercial growing areas and make sure it is a match for what consumers want.
Its appearance comes from Enterprise, an apple bred in Illinois to be resistant to diseases.
Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@