Names have been given to two new apple varieties formerly called New York 1 and New York 2. The names are SnapDragon and RubyFrost.
Jeff Crist, vice chairman of the board of directors of NYAG (New York Apple Growers) and a fruit grower from Walden, New York, disclosed the names during the annual fruit field days at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva August 1.
The new varieties were developed by Cornell University apple breeder Dr. Susan Brown, who announced their release in May of 2010 and also told how they would be commercialized. Only New York growers who are members of NYAG can grow them.
The announcement came with promotional materials—logos for both SnapDragon and RubyFrost. Snapdragon’s logo is a stylized dragon curled into an S shape with its name and the words Monster Crunch below it. The name RubyFrost appears in red below a blue stylized snowflake and over the words Cool, Crisp, Craveable.
“I remember my very first bite of SnapDragon. The taste, the crispness, and the juiciness impressed us,” said Brown. “Retailers will appreciate its other qualities as well, because although SnapDragon’s harvest window starts relatively early – in late September – its long storage and shelf life means retailers may be able to offer it with consistent quality for a longer time than Honeycrisp.”
“SnapDragon is a great name for this apple because consumers found its crispy texture and sweet flavor so appealing,” said Mark Russell, an apple grower and NYAG member quoted in a Cornell University press release.
RubyFrost, formerly New York 2, which ripens later in the fall and stores well, will provide a boost of vitamin C well into winter. It was bred to have high Vitamin C, which gives the apples the acidy tang. Brown expects it will be popular with fans of Empire and Granny Smith.
“I think juicy and refreshing when I eat a RubyFrost,” Russell said. “It’s a fascinating apple, with a beautiful skin and a nice sugar-acid balance, but to me the crisp juiciness is rewarding every time.”
In May 2010, Cornell forged a partnership for a managed release with NYAG, a new industry group, to establish an exclusive licensing agreement in North America for the two apple varieties. Growers pay royalties on trees purchased, acreage planted, and fruit produced, and the income is used to market the new varieties and support Cornell’s apple-breeding program.
The first trees were planted in farmers’ orchards in 2011, and now 400 acres are growing across the state. According to NYAG, the still-young trees will produce a limited crop this year, but consumers can search out SnapDragon and RubyFrost at select NYAG farm stands across the state. By 2015, the varieties will be vying for space in grocery stores among the Empire, Gala, and Honeycrisp.
Greater quality, better storage, and disease and insect resistance have long been the goals of Cornell’s apple breeding program. Cornell has released 66 apple varieties since the late 1890s, including Cortland, Macoun, Empire, and Jonagold. Brown herself has brought consumers Fortune and Autumn Crisp varieties, as well as 10 sweet and one tart cherry varieties.
In an article in Good Fruit Grower in July of 2010, Brown described the ancestry and characteristics of the new, dark red apples.
SnapDragon’s parents include Honeycrisp on one side. Later to mature (late September) and without the problems that make Honeycrisp hard to grow, pack, and sell, it is said to have the Honeycrisp sweetness, crunch, and juiciness that have become the new standard in the industry. “With uniform ripening, good color development, and freedom from storage problems, New York 1 provides premium apples from a reliable tree, ” Brown said.
New York 2, now RubyFrost, is a cross of Braeburn and Autumn Crisp. It is described as sweet and tart, suited for baking and fresh eating. Brown said it is even more grower friendly. Harvested mid- to late October, RubyFrost is firm, red-skinned, and suited for fresh eating or baking. It is a heavy cropper that will require thinning, she said. The parent Autumn Crisp, released by Cornell in 2009, is a cross of Golden Delicious and Monroe. Unlike Autumn Crisp, RubyFrost is expected to store well.