WA 2 is a bright red-pink color with distinct lenticels. It is at prime eating quality several months after harvest.
WA 2 apples were significantly preferred over Gala by consumers in Washington State in taste tests this spring.
The WA 2 fruit was harvested on October 6, 2011, from the Washington State University apple breeding program’s Phase 3 testing site at Quincy, Washington, and stored in controlled atmosphere without a prestorage MCP treatment. Gala, included in the tests as an industry standard, was harvested September 20 from a nearby Quincy orchard and treated with MCP prior to CA storage. All fruit was in excellent eating condition based on variety-specific quality expectations.
Consumers were asked which of the two apples they preferred for the attributes of appearance, taste/flavor, and texture, and to indicate the sample they preferred overall. They were presented with a slice of apple for tasting but were also shown a whole apple in order to judge appearance. Consumers preferred WA 2 over Gala for all attributes (Figure 1).
The evaluation took place on March 3, 2012, at the River Park Shopping Mall in Spokane, Washington, with consumers recruited using posters around the mall. Consumers were from diverse ethnic backgrounds and were aged from 18 to 70 with approximately 38% of subjects under the age of 35. Approximately 60% of subjects were female, and the majority of consumers ate apples at least once to several times a week and grew up in the northwestern United States. In a second consumer test, this time at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, on February 23, 100 consumers were asked to score different attributes on a 7-point hedonic scale (with 1 = dislike very much and 7 = like very much) on a number of different apples, including samples from the same lots of WA 2 and Gala. Once again, WA 2 fruit had a greater overall acceptance than Gala and was preferred for all attributes, with firmness, crispness, and juiciness being statistically significant (Figure 2).
Consumers in Pullman were similar to those in Spokane regarding ethnic background and age range, but 60% were under the age of 35, and 56% were female.
These results parallel the taste test data collected through the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission’s internal program. Storage tests and packout assessments are ongoing with WA 2 as described in the June 2012 edition of Good Fruit Grower. Opportunities will be available again for Washington growers to sign up for Phase 4 evaluation from December 1, 2012.
Dr. Kate Evans is pome fruit breeder at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center, in Wenatchee.
Dr. Carolyn Ross is a food scientist at WSU’s School of Food Science in Pullman.