Goodbye Honeycrisp? Researchers hunt for next big thing
Researchers in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley are preparing for the day the popular Honeycrisp loses its shine.
The big, red premium apple has boosted the economic value of the crop by 800 per cent, but breeders and scientists say shopper excitement over the fruit has a limited shelf life.
"When they are new and demand outstrips supply, they are very profitable for growers," said Doug Nichols, an apple grower and biologist at the federal Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre in Kentville.
"But then the fruit will be available on a regular basis, maybe even on a 12-month basis, so a lot of the excitement around consumers is not as great."
Nova Scotia growers have been replacing McIntosh trees with the Honeycrisp, a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold that was developed at the University of Minnesota. It grows well in colder climates.
Unlike the McIntosh, the Honeycrisp fetches premium prices. In fact, a crate of Honeycrisp sells for eight times the price of more traditional apples.
On Thursday, researchers found out they're getting $218,000 in federal funding over four years to help them look for a new champion apple.
Nichols said the money should help them bring in 30 to 50 varieties of apples to graft onto local trees to see how they grow.
He said it's a long process that could take 10 years, but having something new on store shelves is the only way to keep market share in a competitive business.