In order to assess a managed variety program, the grower should ask the following questions, ­suggests Bob Brammer, president of Crane & Crane, a packer at Brewster, Washington.

  • Is there the potential for a high return over a ­sustained period that will generate the return on investment that the grower needs in order to succeed?
  • How does the commercializing entity plan to obtain its share of the revenue stream? Will it derive most of its revenue from a royalty on trees, per-acre fees, or a proportion of the f.o.b. price?
  • New varieties are management intensive. Will the packing house slow down its equipment to provide a consistent, high-quality product that can command $40 a box?
  • Does the new variety fit with the marketing entity’s business plan, or will it have to adjust its business plan to match the variety, and will it be willing to do that?
  • Will the variety be a hook to sell more apples, or will it be the marketer’s flagship variety?
  • Do the benchmarks of the other parts of the ­program coincide with those of the grower?

"The only way to get there is to ask a lot of questions, and be involved," Brammer said, "and it’s a lot of work."

Once the program’s under way, does the grower, who’s invested in planting the apple, have the ability to ­influence the process if the benchmarks are not being met?

If the marketing is not working properly, will the grower be part of the group that decides how it should be done differently? The ability of the producer to influence the process is key, Brammer said.