“It’s a long process. We started in 1997.”
That’s what Bruce Barritt had to say about coming up with a new apple variety. His apple, Cosmic Crisp, is a hybrid between the Honeycrisp and Enterprise. He said the goal was to produce an apple that people would really like.
“It had to have great flavour, it had to have great texture, and it has to store really well.”
The Cosmic Crisp was engineered to stay fresh as if it was just picked off the tree, even after 12 months in storage. Barritt said this is something not seen in other apple varieties. The new apple also has genes that make it brown slowly.
“It stays white a long time. If you put it in a salad – hours later, it will still be white.”
After graduating from UBC, Barritt went on to work in Washington state. He first worked on developing new raspberry and strawberry varieties that would work well in desserts.
He then accepted a job at a research station to develop new apple varieties in Wenatchee, a city in north-central Washington.
Barritt said this was where he started developing what would become the Cosmic Crisp variety.
“Growers need an apple that’s productive in the orchard, that doesn’t have any serious problems. The packers and shippers need to have an apple that doesn’t bruise when you pack them, that looks attractive and that doesn’t get disorders and diseases in cold storage.”
Barritt added that the Cosmic Crisp meets all those criteria, which is why he thinks it has the potential to be the next big apple. Not only is it the consumers’ ideal fruit, but it’s also the growers’ ideal harvest.
The Cosmic Crisp apple will be available for sale as of Dec. 1, but Barritt said they’ll only be available wherever the Washington producers will be able to distribute them.
“The amount of fruit available is not huge. The number sounds huge: 450,000 boxes but that’s a relatively small number. So whether (the apples) come to Canada or not, I cannot say.”
He said that for the next ten years, only Washington growers will be able to plant and distribute the variety, but there are plans to expand distribution within North America, as well as internationally.