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The red trait, which is common in crab apples and ornamentals, produces flesh colored anywhere from pink to deep red.

The red trait, which is common in crab apples and ornamentals, produces flesh colored anywhere from pink to deep red.

Next Big Thing’s last big thing was the SweeTango apple. Now, it appears, its next big thing will be apples with red flesh.

The Minnesota-based Next Big Thing Cooperative has joined with 12 other fruit marketers from 11 countries and five continents in a global consortium called IFORED.

The goal is to bring red-fleshed apples to market within five years. IFORED was coined from the acronym of International Fruit Obtention, the French-based company formed in 2004 to breed for red flesh in apples, and the word “red.”

Tim Byrne, president of Next Big Thing, said IFORED was created in October, when the fruit marketers met at the IFO headquarters in Angers, France. The consortium will test, select, and commercialize red-fleshed apple varieties. Byrne said a few Next Big Thing grower-members across the United States and eastern Canada will plant red-fleshed apple selections this spring. “In the next two years, three or four growers will plant 10 to 15 red-flesh selections looking for those that have commercial potential,” he said.

IFO was created in 2004 when two large French nursery companies combined their assets and began breeding for apples with unique traits, including red flesh, but also emphasizing disease resistance and fruit quality traits. The company has 50 acres devoted to apple breeding.

Next Big Thing consists of 45 growers from across the northern United States and 19 growers in Quebec and Nova Scotia, Canada.

See the full story and more photos in the January 15 issue of the Good Fruit Grower magazine.