New Apple Varieties, New Marketing Approach

 Whether you are a grower or a consumer (or both), you might be interested in two new apple varieties that have been a decade in the making.

Two new apple varieties were unveiled recently: “SnapDragon” and “RubyFrost.” They were developed by Cornell University breeder and Horticulture Professor Susan Brown. SnapDragon, similar to Honeycrisp, has a harvest window starting on the early side (late September) and has a storage life that outlasts Honeycrisp. RubyFrost, which shares characteristics with Empire and Granny Smith, ripens later and stores well, making it suitable for consumption well into the winter months. While these apple varieties are of course novel, they will also be marketed in a unique way. Read on for an excerpt from an article published on these apples from, which explains the marketing arrangement.

Excerpt: …how [the two new apple varieties have] gone to market is a first for the Cornell apple-breeding program and the New York apple industry. Historically, public universities developed new apple breeds and released them to the industry freely. But in 1980, the Bayh-Dole Act gave universities the ability to retain the intellectual property rights for their research, with limited plant-based royalties.

In May 2010, Cornell forged a partnership for a managed release with NYAG, a new industry group, to establish an exclusive licensing agreement in North America for the two apple varieties. Growers pay royalties on trees purchased, acreage planted and fruit produced, and the income is used to market the new varieties and support Cornell’s apple-breeding program.

The first trees were planted in farmers’ orchards in 2011, and now 400 acres are growing across the state. According to NYAG, the still-young trees will produce a limited crop this year, but intrepid consumers can search out SnapDragon and RubyFrost at select NYAG farm stands across the state. By 2015, the varieties will be vying for space in grocery stores among the Empires, Galas and Honeycrisps.

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