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WineCrisp, a new apple for Iowa

By Staff | Mar 6, 2009

-Photo courtesy of University of Illinois WineCrisp apples have been studied, researched and developed for the past 20 years.

Zestar, Pink Lady and Honeycrisp are relatively new apple varieties that are familiar to Iowans. A new apple – WineCrisp – is ready to join the list.

The privilege of becoming an apple variety doesn’t come easy. To earn that right a new apple must endure at least 20 years of development and research before it is ready for propagation by nurseries.

“It takes a long time to develop an apple because you want to test it in different locations, you want to observe it over a number of years, and it takes a while for an apple to get noticed,” said geneticist Schuyler Korban.

Korban, a professor of molecular genetics and biotechnology at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said he has worked on this particular apple variety for almost 30 years. It was developed by the university, along with cooperators at both Rutgers College and Purdue University. This cooperative apple breeding program has been going on for several decades and has released 20-plus apple varieties.

Korban was impressed with WineCrisp the first time he saw it. “It has an excellent mix of sugar and acid. A very pleasant flavor.” The flesh is crisp and firm with a rich flavor.

The apple is not a bright red, more of a deep red wine. It also resembles an older variety Winesap. The breeders also wanted the name to reflect its crisp flesh. Hence the name WineCrisp.

A big plus for the tree is its resistance to apple scab. According to Korban, apple scab is the number one disease that growers have to spray for 15 to 20 times a season. Not having to spray for apple scab lowers the cost for the grower and it is better for the environment.

WineCrisp also has good resistance to fire blight with moderate resistance to powdery mildew and to cedar-apple rust. The tree is highly productive on an annual basis.

Unfortunately, consumers won’t find the apple at Iowa’s orchards this year.

“It takes time for a new orchard or even for an existing orchard to plant new varieties,” said Korban. “But when WineCrisp cuttings are grafted into a fast-growing root stock, there could be fruit on the tree in as little as three years.”

Nurseries interested in propagating WineCrisp can obtain a license for propagation from the University of Illinois Technology Transfer office. Korban will forward requests to this office.

Contact Renae Vander Schaaf by e-mail at suncrest@netllcwb.net.

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