New apple varieties from Washington State University are evaluated and commercialized under the following general guidelines.
Phase 1: Initial seedling selection and evaluation The Washington Apple Breeding Program evaluates many thousands of seedlings, with input from its Industry Advisory Council. The breeding program identifies selections for advancement to Phase 2.
Phase 2: Small-scale on-farm trials Two Washington grower-cooperators at representative sites in Washington plant about five trees per selection in test plots under a WSU testing agreement. Grower-cooperators are selected on the basis of the suitability of the sites. A third site is planted at the WSU Sunrise orchard. The breeding program identifies selections for advancement to Phase 3.
Phase 3: Mid-scale on-farm trials Four grower-cooperators at representative sites provide test plots for between 10 and 100 trees per selection under a WSU testing agreement. The breeding program identifies selections intended for advancement to Phase 4 and submits them to the WSU Horticultural Cultivar Release Committee for recommended release.
Phase 4: Wide-scale testing Commercial growers can sign an agreement with the WSU Research Foundation to plant up to five trees per selection for evaluation, at a cost of $600. For two sites (10 trees), the fee is $1,200. The application period is from January to March 31 for five years after the variety’s release. Application forms for WA 2 and WA 5 will be on the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission’s Web site at www.treefruitresearch.com in December. Growers cover all costs involved in growing the trees and follow their own management practices.
Phase 4 participants have the opportunity to apply for a license agreement in Phase 5. If they participate in Phase 5, they acquire ownership of the trees. If not, they must destroy them.
Phase 5: Commercialization Only participants in Phase 4 may acquire licenses for Phase 5 commercialization rights.
One-time royalties will be paid at the time of planting to the WSU Research Foundation according to the following tentative schedule:
—250,000 or fewer packed boxes shipped industrywide—$1 per tree or $1,000 per acre royalty
—More than 250,000 boxes shipped (or possibly 350 acres planted)—$2,000 per acre
—More than 500,000 boxes shipped (or 500 acres)—$3,000 per acre
—More than 1 million boxes shipped (or 1,000 acres)—$4,000 per acre
—More than 5 million boxes shipped (or 5,000 acres)—$5,000 per acre