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The new variety Mairac in being grown in a test plot in the Wenatchee, Washington, area.

The new variety Mairac in being grown in a test plot in the Wenatchee, Washington, area.

Two partners in the European commercialization company VariCom, Michael Weber and Bruno Essner, traveled to the United States in late September to appraise their varieties in test plots.

VariCom has applied for plant variety rights for the cultivar La Flamboyante in Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, the European Union, and Switzerland, but is not patenting it in the United States. The variety is trademarked as Mairac, however.

Nurseries that are members of the International New Varieties Network have been licensed to grow trees of Mairac. Availability of trees is not restricted.

Weber and Essner also met with members of The Next Big Thing cooperative, in Lake City, Minnesota, with which it has an exclusive testing agreement for Mairac through 2012. The Next Big Thing, a cooperative with members across North America, was formed to manage the commercialization of new varieties, including the Minnesota apple variety SweeTango. A few Mairac trees were planted last spring. Next spring, it will be planted in ten more sites with different climates and soils, according to Tim Byre, president of NBT. “We want to see how it responds in different areas,” he said.

Dennis Courtier, a director of The Next Big Thing, said more has to be learned about the variety, such as where it grows best, before a commercialization plan can be developed.