Smitten in the Mitten: Belleharvest ships first Michigan Smitten apple


The Midwest’s first commercial harvest of the Smitten apple variety launched Sept. 17 at Belleharvest Sales Inc., in Belding, MI. The fruit is expected to arrive on retail shelves by about Sept. 27.

Chris Sandwick, vice president of sales and marketing for BelleHarvest, told The Produce News that “demand has been very, very encouraging. We’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from retailers. It has been very exciting” as Belleharvest prepared to bring Smitten to Michigan.IMG 7368

Smitten was developed in New Zealand by the Prevar Breeding program. It is a blend of Gala, Braeburn, Fiesta and Falstaff.

Until now, this licensed variety has only been produced on the U.S. West Coast or in the Southern Hemisphere

Although Belleharvest’s Smitten trees have sufficiently matured to produce a commercial volume in 2018, this year’s volume will only be sufficient to supply in-state customers. The ability to promote a locally grown and a specialty apple is a very large bonus, he noted.

Next year, the Michigan-grown Smitten is expected to have the volume to supply “the middle of the country.”

With Michigan’s shape bringing the nickname “The Mitten State,” in retail stores Belleharvest will be promoting the line “We are Smitten in the Mitten!”

Sandwick described Smitten as “an exciting early apple. It has a ton of superlative flavor. It has incredible crunch and tons of juices. Its taste is a sweet apple. It has a lovely vibrant sweetness. It’s a pink blush apple. It’s very, very pretty!”

Belleharvest will ship Smitten from the Mitten for a few weeks before this year’s volume is gone. He added that Smitten will be available from Washington State shippers until the end of 2018.

“We fell in love with this apple many years ago and are thrilled to join New Zealand and Washington in producing this extraordinary apple," Sandwick said previously. "We believe it has the eating quality to please even the most cynical snacker.”

Article by Tad Thompson

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