Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Build a Better Apple the Natural Way (And it's Non-GMO too)

For all the Apple lovers out there comes good news about a new variety of apple created through old fashioned cross breeding and known by the new name "Salish Apple". As you can see in the above photograph it is a rosy red over a yellow background with pale yellow flesh and is said to have it's own unique tangy flavour.

In this modern day world of debates over healthy foods and the dangers of profit obsessed Industrial Ag pimping their wares under the P.R. Cloak of "We Just Want to Feed the World" comes a refreshing bit of News that the long traditional ways of creating newer improved food varieties doesn't have to come from the X-Files archive of Dr Josef Mengele's gene manipulation GMO technology of crossing species barriers and boundaries in a form of irreversible genetic pollution that may never be repaired once introduced and unleashed into the Natural World. Folks should also not be fooled by the association of GMO Technologies as another long line of gene manipulation technologies which only mirrors the  old fashioned cross breeding done for centuries. The two are NOTHING alike and they full well know it. Once again that is used to pimp a cloak of innocence about this present GMO invasion onto the world scene.

Formerly known as SPA-493 to researchers, it is in markets for the first time this week, 31 years after  it was selectively bred from its parent varieties, the  light, sweet Gala and the long-storing Splendour. Hence -  it's name - "Salish"
Article Source: Vancouver Sun
The Salish is a made-in-B.C. Apple 31 Years in the Selecting
Scientists at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland collected pollen from the male apparatus in the blossoms of a Splendour tree and applied it to emasculated blossoms of a Gala back in 1981. They ended up with more than 800 unique cross-bred varieties from that single pollination, one of many they conduct each year.
The apples that grew from that controlled pollination were all Galas — like their mother — but each seed contained a jumble of traits and genes from both parents.
Only one would become the Salish.
“Every seed in every apple is like a baby, they are all unique and unpredictable,” said apple breeder Cheryl Hampson. Once the seeds are planted, a nine-year process of winnowing out weaklings begins. Almost immediately, some are not vigorous, others are susceptible to disease.
Seeds harvested from cross-pollination are planted at the research centre in Summerland and grown for three to four years.
“Every year we germinate thousands of new seeds and retire thousands of inferior trees,” said Hampson. “Less than one per cent of them have any potential of being better than their parents.”
Buds from promising young trees are grafted onto dwarfing root stock to save space and to shorten the unproductive juvenile period by several years, said Hampson. The first fruit appears about four years later, sparking a new cull of inferior varieties, while promising fruit is harvested for further testing.
Right from the start apples are rated for their flavour, texture and appearance and quickly discarded if they show flaws, said Hampson. To ensure that the apple will succeed in B.C. it also needs to ripen before the autumn frost and not overlap the harvesting period of the growers’ other apples.
“The apple also has to store well, because we need to be able to eat these apples months and months after they are picked,” she explained. Apples that survive the six-week storage test — remaining tasty and firm — survive and go to the next round, a series of tasting panels. The rest are discarded along with the trees that bore them.
The Salish survived and thrived, but it was not alone.
About 20 apples made it through the first rounds of cuts, an unusually good result.
More trees of the promising varieties are propagated — a process that takes four years — for the next phase of testing, which lasts yet another three to five years. Breeders are looking for size, high yield, disease and blemish resistance, and consistent bearing. A tree that fruits every other year is of no use to growers.
About 16 years after the first pollination, growers are invited to engage in on-farm testing. Only those that perform well in the real world take the final step, commercialization and branding.
In all, three commercial apples were produced from that 1981 pollination, the Salish, Nicola and Aurora Golden Gala.
“Any new apple that enters the marketplace has to be at least as good as what is out there and usually better,” said Hampson. But because Galas are so widely grown around the world, prices are dropping and growers are always looking for a new popular variety.
“A new variety in high demand is more profitable for growers,” she said. “But it also has to be better for consumers, so our top priority is always eating quality. If it doesn’t taste good all its other attributes are irrelevant.”
Because of the lag time between converting to a new variety and harvest, the Okanagan orchardists who have opted to grow Salish will have a five-year head start on the competition, according to John Kingsmill, CEO of the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation.
Like the Gala, Salish is a crisp, light bite, but packs a tartness that defines it as a “grown-up” variety, said Kingsmill. Salish has greater possibilities as a cooking apple than many of its contemporaries such as Ambrosia and Gala.
Other tangy varieties such as Braeburn and Pink Lady are challenging to grow in the Okanagan, but they have a following. Kinsmill is optimistic that the B.C.-born and bred Salish will fill that niche.
There are people who like that tangy flavour, like an 'Old World Apple', Kingsmill said, "That said, kids who tasted Salish at the UBC Apple Festival asked for more slices."
Photo by Mark van Manen
Cecile Couronneau, left, and her mother Maryse show off the newly unveiled Salish apple Monday in Vancouver. They both pronounced it sweet and tasty.
As a side point and for the record, here are two of my personal Flavourites- 
Image Specialty Produce

Arkansas Black Apple does get so deep purple in colour that at times it does quite literally seem to be black. One of the amazing qualities about this old time apple is it's toughness which makes it a challenge to bite into as a fresh eating apple. However it will last for months. I had some ripen late one year and put them in a protected box in my shed. Next June they were still good, and texture and flavour vastly improved with age which is what they are known for. Good firm baking apples. For a home gardener who orders one of these trees from an Antique Apple Orchard Nursery, make sure it's a standard tree which will have deeper soil penetrating roots and also plant a cross pollinator like the
Red Delicious or Golden Delicious.

These are the Pink Lady Apples. I seriously have never had them until I came over here to Sweden. The also have a very crunchy or crispy texture when you bite into them, so they also are long keepers. It is a late ripening variety that was developed in Australia like the green Granny Smith baking apple.

As always - Enjoy! 

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