Spring 2016 Edition

McIntosh News

Introducing JuicyGold

Beginning this fall, New England will have an apple brand of its own. The New England Apple Association (NEAA) has trademarked the name JuicyGold for the variety previously known as Jonagold for the exclusive use of its growers.

The name gives New England a way to distinguish the apple as locally grown. In recent years, apple breeding programs and larger apple-growing states have trademarked new varieties, leaving New England’ s medium to small orchards out. The cost of licensing a trademarked variety is prohibitive for most, and in some cases membership in a growing “club” for these new apples is restricted to a single state or a few orchards. As a result, New England, which lacks its own apple-breeding program, has been unable to introduce new varieties to compete for attention and shelf space with the imported trademarked ones.

Enter Jonagold. A cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious developed at Cornell University’ s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in 1968, it is an exceptional apple that consistently rates high in consumer taste tests. It is a juicy apple with a light crisp texture similar to Honeycrisp, and its mostly sweet flavor has a hint of tartness.

Jonagold is a large apple, somewhat conical in shape, and comes in a striking mix of gold and red, although some newer strains are nearly solid red in color. Its slight tang and red hue come from Jonathan, an heirloom variety from New York that dates back to the early 1800s. Jonathan is seldom grown in New England today, but it remains a popular apple in parts of the Midwest.

Jonagold’ s other parent, Golden Delicious, was discovered in West Virginia in 1890, and for several decades it has been one of the most widely grown apples in the world. It supplies Jonagold’ s golden color and contributes to its juiciness and distinctive texture.

Jonagold has been popular at New England pick-your-own orchards and in Europe, but for some reason it has not yet caught on in New England’ s supermarkets. By rebranding Jonagold as JuicyGold, New England’ s growers hope to reintroduce it to supermarkets as a locally grown apple of premium quality.

The name “JuicyGold” tells consumers something about the eating experience, as its juiciness is consistently cited by participants in taste tests and a survey of growers.

Ripe JuicyGolds at Tougas Family Farm, Northborough, Massachusetts.
photo by Russell Powell
“The capital ‘G’ in Gold is a double entendre, referring to both the apple’s color and something of great value.”NEAA Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks

“The capital ‘G’ in Gold is a double entendre, referring to both the apple’s color and something of great value,” says NEAA Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks, adding that no other apple has “juice” in its name.

Quantities of JuicyGold will be limited at first, says Weeks, as growers ramp up production to meet an anticipated increase in demand. The fact that the region’ s growers are familiar with JuicyGold’ s growing habits should speed up that process. Hundreds of new JuicyGold trees are currently in the ground and should begin producing over the next few years, and growers are expected to plant more in the interim.

JuicyGolds at Pine Hill Orchards, Colrain, Massachusetts, in early September, a few weeks from harvest.
photo by Russell Powell

Some New England growers may choose to continue to sell the variety as Jonagold, but every orchard in the six-state region is eligible to use the JuicyGold brand. An apple sold by that name is guaranteed to be New England-grown. The project that developed the JuicyGold name was profiled in Fruit Grower News in March.

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JuicyGold survey

The New England Apple Association is surveying its members to determine how many JuicyGolds are currently in production or in the ground in the six-state region. Please take a moment to answer:

  1. How many JuicyGold do you expect to produce for sale in 2016 (in boxes)?
  2. How many JuicyGold trees do you have planted that are not yet in production?
  3. Do you plan any future JuicyGold plantings?

Please email your response to: info@newenglandapples.org.

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New England awarded $28,500 to promote JuicyGold and other varieties

The New England Apple Association has been awarded a $28,500 grant by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to promote the newly rebranded JuicyGold apple and New England’s traditional varieties.

Promotions are scheduled for fall 2016 and winter 2017, with in-store sampling, point-of-purchase display cards, video programs, and a consumer survey at the Eastern States Exposition (“The Big E”).

The project helps growers compete with trademarked apples from outside the region that threaten to take shelf space from New England’s established varieties, especially during the winter months. Rebranding Jonagold as JuicyGold allows growers to reintroduce the variety to consumers and supermarkets as a premium locally grown apple.

JuicyGold’s striking red-and-gold color, juiciness, and crisp texture compare favorably to Honeycrisp. Promoting JuicyGold provides immediate benefits while growers invest in new plantings to meet increased demand.

New England staples Cortland and McIntosh account for more than two-thirds of the region’s apple crop. They have more sweet-tart apple flavor and a lighter texture than many apples, and they store well into winter and spring. The campaign to promote Cortland, McIntosh, and other New England staples will re-educate consumers to their virtues, and ensure that these great apples get the attention they deserve.

The funds come from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crops Block Grant program, which awards money to each of the 50 states to distribute among Specialty Crop producers. The USDA defines Specialty Crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and nursery crops, including floriculture.”

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Vermont gets a new apple: Franklin

While New England reintroduces Jonagold as JuicyGold, the region also has a brand new apple. The Franklin apple, a cider variety discovered by Bill Mayo of Sandy Bay Orchard in Franklin, Vermont, has shown so much promise that it has been patented by Stark Bros Nursery and Orchards for release in 2017. Franklin is a round, medium to small-sized apple, yellow in color with a little russeting and occasional pink blush. Cider apples are prized for their tannins, acidity, and astringency in hard cider rather than for fresh eating.

Mayo and his wife Susan own a general store in Franklin along the Canadian border. He discovered his apple’s distinctive properties several years ago while making hard cider. He took some of the fruit from his wild tree, which he estimates to be more than 50 years old, to Terence Bradshaw, tree fruit specialist at the University of Vermont, for testing.

In a survey of more than 40 orchards, Franklin scored high for its level of tannins, polyphenols (phytonutrients that give apples their characteristic color, taste, and aroma), acidity, and sugar. In addition to its desirability in cider, the tree is extremely cold hardy, a heavy producer, and it does not appear to be susceptible to several diseases, including the virus apple scab.

The new apple was profiled in the April edition of American Fruit Grower Magazine.

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Powell to talk Sunday about the
Emily Dickinson family orchard

New England Apple Association Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will give a talk titled “‘From off my Father’s tree!’ Apples of New England and the Dickinson Family Orchard,” at the Emily Dickinson Museum, 280 Main Street, Amherst, Massachusetts, Sunday April 24, at 10 a.m.

The presentation will put the Dickinson orchard in a historical context, including how apples were grown during the poet’s lifetime, the varieties in the Amherst orchard, and how apples were used in Emily’s poetry and in her family’s kitchen. Weather permitting, a portion of the talk will take place in the recently reinstated Dickinson orchard.

Powell has written two books about apples with photographs by Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks, Apples of New England (Countryman Press, 2014) and America’s Apple (Brook Hollow Press, 2012), which will be available at the event for sale and signing.

Period refreshments will be served: apple pandowdy, apple brown Betty, apple-pear cobbler, and gingerbread — one of the poet’s favorites — baked with apples.

Tickets are $10 for adults; $8 for Museum members; and $5 for students K-12. Tickets may be purchased at the door.

Emily Dickinson Museum

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Making the website work for you

Members of the Association are encouraged to update their listing on the New England Apple Association website, newenglandapples.org, by August 1.

Visitors to the site are directed to your listing by first clicking “Orchard Finder” on the home page. People can then search by zip code or Google Map or access detailed orchard listings by state. By updating your list of apple varieties and other products, adding special events, or making any other changes to your listing, people will know what your orchard has planned for the 2016 season.

Visitors to the website can search for orchards by the apple varieties they grow by clicking the “Apple Finder” image on the home page. It takes them to a list with photographs of more than 200 apples. By clicking on any photo, people can read about the variety’s flavor, texture, ripening time, distinguishing features, best uses, and history.

Each variety page includes a link to a list of New England orchards that grow it, with contact information. If your orchard’s varieties are not listed on the website, they will fail to appear in those searches.

Members can update their listings by typing in their password on the Members link in the upper right corner of the home page. For people unfamiliar with the system or needing assistance, or to add an orchard listing, email us at info@newenglandorchards.org, or call 203-439-7006.

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Apple researcher Bill Lord, 94, passes

The New England apple community lost a valued long-time contributor with the passing of William J. “Bill” Lord, of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, March 19, at the age of 94.

Bill was born November 3, 1921, in Farmington, New Hampshire. He graduated from Farmington High School in 1939 and he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1943.

He taught high school at Winchester, New Hampshire, until enlisting in the U. S. Army. Bill’s 71st Infantry Division was shipped to Europe during the waning months of World War II. He endured combat as a rifleman and scout for his infantry platoon in France, Germany, and Austria. Bill became an instructor of military personnel Post V-E day. He taught high school and college level courses to GIs at Freising and Oberammergau, Germany. Bill served 16 months in the European Theater and returned stateside for separation from active duty at Fort Devens. He served in the Army Reserves for 10 years.

After returning to civilian life in 1946, Bill taught high school in Walpole, New Hampshire. He earned a master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire in 1953, and a doctorate from Penn State University in 1955.

In 1955, Bill accepted a pomology position at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Extension Service. He authored or co-authored 200 research and extension publications in addition to numerous articles to a bi-monthly publication that he edited for 30 years.

In 1971, Bill was recognized for his contributions by the Massachusetts Extension Service. In 1974, he received the Carl S. Bittner Award from the American Society for Horticulture Science. Bill was the past president of the Northeast Region of the American Society for Horticulture Science.

After retiring from UMass in 1985, Bill was named professor emeritus of plant and soil sciences. He accepted a post-retirement appointment at Cold Spring Orchard, the University of Massachusetts Horticulture Research Center in Belchertown, and worked there part-time until he was 80. In 2009, he was honored by his peers for being a friend and educator with a bronze plaque in a granite boulder that came from the orchard.

Bill was husband of the late Jean Elizabeth “Betty” (Brooks) Lord who died in 2002, and father to Patricia J. (Lord) Scott, who survives him. Donations in Bill’s memory can be made to the UMass Cold Spring Orchard Rice Fund, 391 Sabin St., Belchertown, MA 01007.

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Grange donates heirloom apples to University of Maine at Farmington

John Bunker, the founder of Fedco Trees and the Maine Heritage Orchard, gave a talk titled, “How the Apple Shaped Maine History” Friday, April 22, at the University of Maine at Farmington. The event was organized by the Farmington Grange and UMF’s Sustainable Campus Coalition to celebrate Earth Day.

Bunker, who says his “passion is tracking down heirloom fruit varieties, particularly those originating in Maine,” calls himself a “fruit explorer.” He is the author of Not Far From the Tree: A Brief History of the Apples and Orchards of Palermo, Maine 1804-2004.

Prior to his talk, Bunker supervised the planting on campus of five heritage apple trees by students in Denise Boothby’s community health classes. The Black Oxford, Gray Pearmain, Somerset, Tolman Sweet and Wealthy apple trees were purchased by the Farmington Grange and donated to the university.

Boothby is the wife of Rob Boothby, owner of Boothby’s Orchard in Livermore, Maine.

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From the apple bin

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The calendar is back!

After a one-year hiatus, the New England Apple Association will once again produce a wall calendar for 2017. The NEAA chose not to produce a calendar in 2016 in order to invest in a remake of its website, newenglandapples.org.

The popular calendar features photography of New England orchards by Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell, plus photos and descriptions of a new apple variety each month. The calendar includes orchard listings and contact information. Supplies of the 2017 New England Apples wall calendar should arrive at member orchards in early September.

New England Apple Day, the official kick-off of the fresh harvest by the state departments of agriculture, is Wednesday, August 31, before Labor Day Weekend, the traditional start of the season for varieties like McIntosh and Cortland.

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