Mott’s will have first option on new processed apple varieties in exchange for financial support of Cornell’s apple breeding program.

Cornell University has entered into a ten-year research alliance that gives the apple processor Mott’s, LLP, exclusive rights to manage production and marketing of new processing apples developed at Cornell in exchange for its financial support of the breeding program. Mott’s is part of the Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages Company.

Under the terms of the agreement, Mott’s will purchase exclusive rights to a new processing apple, NY674, for $25,000, plus royalties based on the volume of NY674 it purchases from growers. It will also have the first option on future releases of processing apples and will pay Cornell $10,000 annually for ten years. Cornell’s nonexclusive licenses for growing fresh market apples are unaffected by the agreement.

Apple breeder Dr. Susan Brown said in a press release that the agreement provides long-term funding needed to maintain the Cornell apple breeding program at a time when funding for applied research is limited.

“We have hundreds of advanced selections and thousands of trees to look after. In apples, important new varieties may take 15 years to develop, and another 15 before they are commercially viable.”

Releasing varieties under a managed, or club, system will help Cornell support its apple program, she said. The managed variety business model enables the university to receive more royalties than it otherwise would, and for a longer time.

New York apple grower George Lamont described the agreement with Mott’s as a win-win-win. It gives growers a long-term commitment to the continuation of apple processing in New York, gives Cornell more than $500,000 to fund its cash-starved breeding program, and gives Mott’s the exclusive use of at least one and possibly several superior processing varieties.

Mott’s buys between 6.5 and 8.0 million bushels of apples annually from New York growers. That’s about 25 percent of the state’s total crop and about 50 percent of its processed apple crop. The state has 45,000 acres of apples in production.

Over the past century, apple breeders at Cornell have named 62 apple varieties, including the renowned Empire and Cortland.