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Sixteen New Zealand apple growers have planted the French club variety Delblush, which is sold under the trade name Tentation.

The growers have planted 85 hectares (210 acres) and have an agreement with the variety’s owner, Delbard Nursery of Commentry, France, to plant up to 100 hectares (250 acres). At that level, they would be producing 250,000 boxes a year, which would be 35 percent of world production, orchard consultant Craig Hornblow told International Fruit Tree Association members.

New Zealand’s production is getting to the level where the producers need to develop markets in the United Kingdom and United States, as well as in France, where most of the fruit is sold now in the off season, he added. In New Zealand, the variety matures around March 25, just after Jazz.

The apple is yellow with a slight blush. Hornblow said it is an extremely sweet apple, with 18°Brix at harvest, but also has good acid levels. "You eat this at harvest, it’s a taste explosion," he said. "After storage, that taste mellows out."

The variety russets in New Zealand, but France accepts up to 15 percent russet, he said. However, other markets don’t want any russet, which will be an issue as the producers expand their marketing effort. On the positive side, it is a large apple, averaging 85 to 90 count in New Zealand, which should be a plus.

U.S.

Sage Fruit Company, in Yakima, Washington, has been importing New Zealand Tentation apples and selling them to U.S. retailers for the past two seasons. Peter Verbrugge, chair of the board at Sage, said quantities have been small so far and Sage has been able to offer certain retailers exclusive access to the variety. Though the variety has a distinctive flavor, its appearance might not be distinctive enough to earn it a place on the produce shelf as volumes grow, he said. It looks somewhat like a blushed Golden Delicious, although it usually has about 30 percent blush. Tentation is a cross of Golden Delicious and Blushing Golden developed in 1979.

Sage Fruit is considering planting the variety in Washington State. It has become a mainstream variety in France.