The route to commercialization
Here's how WSU cultivars will be evaluated and commercialized.
New apple varieties from Washington State University will be evaluated and commercialized under the following general guidelines. The fees and royalties are suggested amounts and have not been finalized, according to Dr. Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
selection and evaluation
The Washington Apple Breeding Program directs all activities and works with WSU's genomics, genetics, and breeding team to optimize breeding. Many thousands of seedlings are evaluated on WSU property. The breeding program's Industry Advisory Council provides stakeholder input during the evaluation process. The breeding
program identifies selections for advancement to Phase 2.
Small-scale on-farm trials
About two grower-cooperators at representative sites in Washington plant about five trees per selection in test plots under a WSU testing agreement. WSU has similar test plots.
McFerson said grower-cooperators are selected on the basis of the suitability of the sites. They must meet criteria for elevation, heat units, frost protection, horticultural practices, production system, and location. Cooperators must be able and willing to provide sufficient in-kind support for up to two acres for ten years and must have access to packing line and storage capacity for two to four bins of fruit per selection.
There are currently 49 selections in second-test plots.
The breeding program identifies selections for advancement to Phase 3.
Midscale on-farm trials
About four grower-cooperators at representative sites provide test plots for between 10 and 100 trees per selection under a WSU testing agreement. Growers must meet the same criteria as in Phase 2. Ten selections are currently in Phase 3.
The breeding program identifies selections intended for advancement to Phase 4 and submits them to the WSU Horticultural Cultivar Release Committee for recommended release. The selection WA 2 is moving into Phase 4.
Commercial growers can sign an agreement with the WSU Research Foundation to plant up to five trees per selection for evaluation, at a cost of $500 per selection. They may acquire additional trees for evaluation, at a cost of $100 per tree, depending on availability. Growers cover all costs involved in growing the trees and follow their own management practices. They acquire the trees under a lease-option agreement and have the opportunity to apply for a license agreement in Phase 5.
If they participate in Phase 5, they acquire ownership of the trees. If not, they must destroy them.
Only participants in Phase 4 may acquire licenses for Phase 5 commercialization rights. Licensees may form entities to trademark or manage cultivars.
Royalties will be paid annually to the WSU Research Foundation according to the following tentative schedule, which will be reviewed annually:
• 250,000 or fewer packed boxes shipped—$1 per tree or $1,000 per acre royalty
• More than 250,000 boxes shipped (or possibly 350 acres planted)—$2,000 per acre
• More than 500,000 boxes shipped (or 500 acres)—$3,000 per acre
• More than 1 million boxes shipped (or 1,000 acres)—$4,000 per acre
• More than 5 million boxes shipped (or 5,000 acres)—$5,000 per acre.