Prevar Releases Apple Variety

Prevar Ltd., a company that commercializes new apple and pear varieties from the HortResearch breeding program in New Zealand, has announced that Johnny Appleseed Holdings, Ltd., of New Zealand has acquired exclusive rights to a new variety for the New Zealand ­market and is planting large numbers of trees.

The apple is a cross of Royal Gala and Braeburn. In a press release, John Paynter, managing director of Johnny Appleseed, described its appearance as bright yellow with a kiss of pink blush.

According to Prevar, the apple has an elongated conical shape, a full sweet-acid flavor, and a crisp and juicy texture. Fruit size is similar to Braeburn. The apple matures midseason and has good storability.

The apple was developed under the name PremA153. It also has a trademarked brand name, which Paynter said he would disclose nearer to the time that fruit becomes available on the market. Small volumes should be available in 2009.

Johnny Appleseed will commercialize the variety in collaboration with Heartland Fruit (NZ), Ltd., and Fresh New Zealand, Ltd., (which will be sublicensed by Johnny Appleseed).

California Crop Estimates

California orchardists are expecting to harvest 56.6 million packages of fresh peaches, plums, and nectarines this season. The peach crop is estimated to be similar to last year at 23.8 million packs, and the nectarine volume is also similar to 2007 at 21.2 million. However, the plum crop, estimated at 11.6 million packages, is predicted to be up 10 percent from last season. The estimates were prepared by the California Tree Fruit Agreement and approved by the industry in late April.

The California Tree Fruit Agreement attributes the larger plum crop to better set and potentially bigger fruit. About 75 percent of the peaches and nectarines will be traditional yellow-fleshed varieties, and the rest will be white-fleshed varieties.

Harvest was expected to begin three days later than last year.

Grape Programs Expanded

In response to demand from students and the wine industry, Washington State University’s on-line viticulture and enology professional certificate programs will now be offered annually instead of every two years, announces Mercy Olmstead, director of the programs. In the past, both two-year programs were offered consecutively. Now, both programs will be run concurrently, which will result in 30 additional students entering the program every year, she explains.

Both courses are separate programs that teach students all aspects of grape and wine production through on-line lessons and hands-on experience. The certificate program is designed for those interested in learning about viticulture and enology, but who don’t want to obtain a college degree.

"Originally, this program was a course offered on the weekends in a classroom setting, but we created the on-line courses to give more people a chance to learn from highly educated professionals, and it keeps growing," Olmstead said in a news release.

Equipment Sales Fund Scholarships

The Hamilton Youth Foundation of Okanogan, Washington, has awarded seven $800 scholarships for 2008. Recipients are Josh Brazil and Hannah Tomlinson of Tonasket; Alexandra Clayton of Winthrop; Maria Hernandez of Bridgeport; Aaron Hensarling of Riverside; Abigail Anderson of Republic; and Josh McDonald of Okanogan.

Funding for the foundation comes primarily from a fixed percentage of Hamilton Farm Equipment’s sales. The foundation spends about $14,000 a year, and supports ­various youth products in addition to providing scholarships.