This is NY 1, the Honeycrisp-like grower-friendly apple. Commercial plantings began this spring.

This is NY 1, the Honeycrisp-like grower-friendly apple. Commercial plantings began this spring.

Photo courtesy of Cornell University

Two new New York apples, still without real names and called NY 1 and NY 2, are quietly working their way toward entry into the commercial apple market.

“We’re now in the quiet phase,” said Roger Lamont, the Albion, New York, grower who is chair of New York Apple Growers. “We’re not making much more noise until we have apples to sell.”

This spring was the first year that nursery trees were available in quantity, and Lamont said 25 percent of the total planned acreage was to be planted this year. “The next two years will be the big planting years,” he said.

When planting is done, some 144 New York apple growers were expected to have about 600 acres of NY 1 and 400 acres of NY 2 in the ground. When the organization called New York Apple Growers was formed in the fall of 2009, growers interested in the trees had to sign up and commit the next summer if they wanted to “join the club.”

The first fruit is expected to be available in local farm markets in 2014 and in supermarkets through wholesale in 2015. Fruit from a few thousand test trees has been available for growers and consumers at farm markets to sample, enough to reassure growers they had made a good choice in deciding to plant these varieties bred by Cornell University apple breeder Dr. Susan Brown.

“Growers were told these new apples were like Honeycrisp without the grower problems,” Lamont said. “We have confidence in the Cornell program and in the apples, even without having experience with them.”

In an interview with Good Fruit Grower two years ago, Walden, New York, grower and New York Apple Growers vice-chair Jeff Crist said, “Growers always wonder what is the right apple to plant. We think we have two. We are confident in the Cornell program. And we think we have a heck of a plan here.”

At that time, Lamont and Crist and other board ­members of New York Apple Growers were signing up growers, who, according to the rules, had to be located in New York. They had to agree to pay membership fees, ­marketing fees, and royalties on trees planted.

Marketing plans are being developed. When fruit is available to sell, Lamont said, the organization will likely hire a president to run the marketing organization and the current officers and board will settle into the background. “When we get up and running, we will need ­professional management,” Lamont said.

Wafler Nurseries in New York is providing most of the trees, although some growers have their own nurseries and produce their own trees. “The Cornell rootstocks are preferred because of their resistance to fireblight,” ­Lamont said, but these rootstocks have been in short ­supply.

Last year, NY 1, the weaker growing tree, was being budded on more vigorous rootstocks, like M.9 Nic.29, while the more vigorous NY 2 was budded on weaker rootstocks like M.9 337 and Budagovsky 9, according to Crist.

NY 1, a Honeycrisp offspring, is sweet and crunchy like Honeycrisp, and ripens in mid-September, just after Honeycrisp. NY 2 ripens in mid-October, has sweet and juicy flesh but is tarter than Honeycrisp and is not related to it.