After two decades of development by a French research company, European members of an international apple group are taking three red-fleshed varieties to the commercial planting stage.
The varieties will be marketed by IFORED, which was founded in 2012 and brings together 14 of the biggest apple producers from 13 countries.
"The first commercial plantings are in 2016 and further plantings will take place in 2018," IFORED project manager Emmanuel Delapparent told www.frehsfruitportal.com.
"At this stage we have 40,000 trees planted of those three varieties and another 100,000 trees will be planted in 2018."
The group's members have planted the apples in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Spain.
"Of course, the plantations will grow in an exponential way as you can expect in the coming years. So this is only the beginning of the project, and it is starting only in Europe at this stage," Delapparent said.
"Elsewhere we have a delay of two to three years related to the fact that there are constraints on plant material importation, and also our partners outside of Europe need to test and evaluate the varieties under their growing conditions and see how those varieties perform according to their market requirements."
Although there are as yet no IFORED members in North America, Delapparent said there would be plantings in the U.S. and Canada in the future. Other regions where the fruit will one day be grown include Chile, Argentina and South Africa.
Plantings in Australia and New Zealand are also likely, but Delapparent said these would happen later due to stricter quarantine regulations.
The three varieties currently go by the names R201, Y101 and Y102.
R201 is described as having an 'intense red skin' and 'bright red flesh', with a harvest period similar to Braeburn. Y101 has orange skin with pink-red flesh, and a harvest period at the end of Gala. Y102 is harvested after Golden Delicious, and has a yellow skin with pink flesh
The varieties were developed by France-based International Fruit Obtention (IFO), which bred between three to four generations.
"It’s a long-term research project that is finally coming into commercial development stage," Delapparent said.
"It’s about patience and taking time to make the right assessment to make sure that we have a finished product that is high quality in terms of presentation, taste and storage ability.
"The idea of IFORED is to be the number one leader in the red-flesh apple category. We want to build a new segment in the apple category and we know that if we want to do that we have to be sure of the quality of our product."
In addition to the three varieties now being planted commercially, there are a further 19 varieties under trial plantings, many of which are said to have 'good potential'.
Marketing plans are being kept confident for now, but Delapparent said more information would be released next year.
"We are working on the marketing concept at the moment," he said.
"What we can say is that these new apple varieties will be marketed under a single brand and promotion will be done on the brand itself and not so much on the single varieties."
IFORED's members include Dutoit in South Africa, Unifrutti in Chile and Johnny Appleseed in New Zealand. The 13 members have a collective output of 3 million metric tons (MT) from 55,000 hectares of orchards.