New apple varieties released by Washington State University will not be club varieties.
Dr. Jim McFerson, manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, which has been granted an exclusive license for the first variety, WA 2, said that during extensive discussions on how to commercialize WSU’s varieties, there was an overwhelming sentiment that every person who supported the breeding programwhich is anyone who paid assessments to the commissionshould have access.
The proposed commercialization plan agreed upon by Washington State University and the Research Commission does not set a cap on production (although royalties rise as production increases). Nor does it specify who can pack or market the fruit.
"I believe it makes a significant effort to move the commercialization into a more open process than what we’ve seen recently with managed varieties," said McFerson.
The club variety concept, which strictly limits access and production, has yet to prove successful, he believes.
"I really believe that from a commercial marketing standpoint, the experiment is still being conducted," he said. "I find it difficult to conclude that any of the managed varietiesfrom Cameo through Pacific Rose and the newer ones that are comingcould be called a success, yet."
WSU’s cultivars will be patented but will not come with trademarked names. Marketers will be able to brand the new varieties as they wish, he said.
The ultimate objective is to give the consumer a better eating experience, no matter what the apple is called.
"We should be providing consumers with a terrific eating experience every time," he said. "Giving it a name doesn’t change that. It’s how that particular selection is grown and handled. I truly believe that we can produce the best fruit in the world, using the best science and technologies, including genetics, genomics, and breeding.
"We want to provide the best possible genetic material adapted to our production environment, handled by the best technology in the world, and let the market determine who wins and who loses."