Pegasus To Introduce Organic Smitten Production In 2018

 

Family Growers across North America Engage in Precision Crop Management. Revolutionary new approach to organic apple tree training and production shown to substitute for chemical thinning. 

On Tuesday, March 6th, a large group of family growers from across North America gathered in the Frenchman Hills growing region North of Vantage, WA to spend a day studying the “transformational” training regimens of Dr. Stuart Tustin and Dr. Ken Breen of New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research. 

Drs. Tustin and Breen were invited to introduce Smitten growers to their revolutionary new approach to organic apple tree training and production, which may radically reduce use of man-made materials in all Smitten® production. “When I first proposed manually reducing limb numbers and using spur extinction to set fruit counts as a substitute for chemical thinning, fellow scientists and growers looked at me like I was crazy”, said Dr. Stuart Tustin. “The concepts integrated in “Precision Crop Management and Artificial Spur Extinction” could be transformational. We have not used chemical thinners in our test orchards. Fruit size and total production increased while tendencies toward alternate bearing have decreased.” These are counter-intuitive responses, which make them more difficult for growers and consultants to understand and accept.

Dr Ken Breen got the group’s attention by stating, “The hardest part for growers to have faith in is that by radically greatly reducing fruiting spurs you will increase fruit set, fruit and crop size, and the predictability of annual bloom. In experimental work, we have reduced total flowering spurs as much as 70% and yet not reduced the ability of trees to capture light (had no effect on potential yield)”.

Turnout was huge with over 80 participants, including a large contingent from Michigan led by Tony Blattner of BelleHarvest.

Plant and Food Research

Plant Food and Research of Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, is a world-leading institution for research on apple horticulture and is also home to many of the most influential patented apple varieties of the last three decades. Varieties include: Jazz, Envy, Pacific Rose, and now Smitten® – an extraordinary new variety setting new standards for excellence in eating quality.

 Dr. Stuart Tustin (center, red hat) of New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research introduces a group of North American Smitten growers to new training concepts.

Dr. Stuart Tustin (center, red hat) of New Zealand’s Plant and Food Research introduces a group of North American Smitten growers to new training concepts.

 Dr. Ken Breen (red hat, forefront) of PFR outlines “Artificial Spur Extinction” as applied to sixth-leaf Smitten in a Pegasus orchard near Frenchman Hills.

Dr. Ken Breen (red hat, forefront) of PFR outlines “Artificial Spur Extinction” as applied to sixth-leaf Smitten in a Pegasus orchard near Frenchman Hills.

 Jason VanderSluis employs a “fruit count wheel” to target fruit counts limb by limb.

Jason VanderSluis employs a “fruit count wheel” to target fruit counts limb by limb.

 Tony Blattner of Michigan brought a contingent of Michigan Smitten growers to the Smitten Tech day.

Tony Blattner of Michigan brought a contingent of Michigan Smitten growers to the Smitten Tech day.

Smitten® USA to Introduce Organic Production in 2018

Smitten® is a “club” variety appearing in North American supermarkets as Pegasus and supporting growers begin commercial production. Pegasus – exclusive North American licensee – is owned and managed by the Randy Steensma and Barclay Crane families of Wenatchee, WA . The company is introducing the variety through their own orchards, as well as sub-licensed growers across the US and Canada who are selected for excellence and leadership in regional growing industries. Randy Steensma comments, “This may be the first time in the history of the apple industry that a new variety is being developed purely on excellent eating quality with little regard for appearance. Smitten® has ‘off the charts’ taste combined with ‘best-in-class’ crispness and crunch. The apple is unforgettable! After people eat this thing, they struggle to go back to standard fare.”

Don Zornes, the North American Marketing Director for Smitten® Apple, said, “Pegasus is committed to leap-frogging legacy farming technology with ‘bleeding edge’ training strategies that bring this brilliant new variety into commercial production with state-of-the-art horticulture that matches the new Millennial demographic.” Zornes adds that commercial production of Organic Smitten® will commence in 2018 with progressive growers Craig Campbell, Dave Piepel, and Rob Valicoff.

Article by Honey Bear Tree Fruit Co. & Pegasus

Published by: www.perisablenews.com