Modì is marketed in Europe as an environmentally friendly variety. Trees are being propagated for planting in North America.

Modì is marketed in Europe as an environmentally friendly variety. Trees are being propagated for planting in North America.

Modì is a new, deep red apple variety that’s being promoted in Europe as a green apple.

It’s a crisp, sweet apple with good shelf life. It is also resistant to scab, and tolerant of mildew and aphids, which means that less spraying is required, Herbert Knuppen, managing director of the variety club Modì Europa, told members of the International Fruit Tree Association. Modì Europa is positioning Modì as a "green" apple, as a way to encourage supermarkets to add another variety to their shelves, Knuppen explained during the IFTA’s annual conference in California.

"Supermarkets ask me, ‘We already have six apple varieties, why should we do a new one?’" Because it’s more environmentally friendly, he tells them. Consumers and supermarkets throughout Europe are concerned about the environment and are interested in buying green products.

Modì, a cross of Gala and Liberty, is the latest release from Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti in Ferrara, Italy. It was named after the Italian artist Modigliani, nicknamed "Modi," who liked to express nature in his paintings, Knuppen explained. The name "Modì" has the advantage of having cosmopolitan appeal.


Rubens, a cross of Gala and Elstar also developed by CIV, is further along in the commercialization process. The Latin term "rubens" means red, but the name also alludes to Peter Paul Rubens, the seventeenth-­century Flemish painter.

The cross was made by CIV in 1988, and the cultivar was tested in different areas of Europe before being released. The first Rubens trees were planted in 1995 at experiment stations and in the orchards of select ­growers in Europe, Knuppen said.

The Rubens European Consortium, which is heading the commercialization process, has conducted extensive sensory analysis and sought the opinions of supermarkets and buyers on its eating quality, said Knuppen. In taste tests, Rubens always ranks at the top. It appeals to a broad range of consumers.

The consortium has launched a promotion program and is developing Rubens as a brand. It will try to identify the variety’s strengths and build on them in the promotions. Production will be controlled, and one of the important purposes of the consortium is to create quality standards so that the fruit on the market is consistent and recognizable as Rubens to the consumer, Knuppen said. A technical committee has been appointed to see what production problems need to be solved.

Production of Rubens in Europe in 2005 amounted to 1,400 tons. Volume increased to 4,200 tons in 2006 and 7,000 tons in 2007. In the spring of 2008, 1.5 million trees were expected to be planted, including 100,000 by a new member of the consortium in the United Kingdom.

North America

CIV is a member of the International New Varieties Network (INN), which has twelve members around the world, including four North American nurseries. All varieties owned by INN members are available to the other INN members. The members work together on the production and protection of their new varieties, and in doing so, are able to test varieties worldwide and find the best places for producing them, said Jack Snyder, president of C&O Nursery in Wenatchee, Washington. Some varieties do not perform well in warmer ­climates, he noted.

The four North American members—C&O Nursery, Van Well Nursery, Willow Drive Nursery, and ProTree Nurseries—have formed a marketing group called North America INN, LLC, to commercialize promising varieties. Snyder said the group has been observing Rubens grown in Italy and Chile, and it appears that the variety will do well in Washington State.

North American INN has drawn up contracts with two grower-packers in north central Washington (one a cooperative in Chelan and the other a private company in Wenatchee) that it feels can best work with Rubens and Modì. Snyder said he did not want to name them until the contracts were signed. An international marketing ­association affiliated with one of the grower-packers will also be involved in marketing the varieties.

The first commercial trees of Rubens, which has been in test plots for six years, will be planted in Washington State this spring. The nurseries are just starting to ­propagate trees of Modì.

Snyder said production of the varieties will be limited, with the aim of maintaining high returns for the growers. North American INN has set a target of between 400 and 900 acres of Rubens initially. The companies involved will decide who will grow the variety. The cooperative has selected seven growers located between Orondo and Oroville who will make the first plantings. "That’s going to be a good test for us," Snyder said, noting that it has yet to be ­determined which will be the best location for producing the variety.

The growers at the cooperative planned to travel to Chile to see plantings of both Rubens and Modì.

After the companies involved see how the variety performs in the marketplace, they will assess how much additional acreage will be necessary to fill the needs of the ­retailers, Snyder said.

The INN is likely to introduce more new varieties, including a pear variety and several cherries, he added.