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Fuji Apples

Birthdate: 1952
Birthplace: Japan
Parentage: This variety is a cross of Red Delicious and Ralls Janet bred at a Japanese research station.

Fuji - Background

This immensely flavorful new variety was introduced to the U.S. from Japan in the 1980s. Each year, this big super sweet apple gains new fans. It's a great substitute for sugary snacks. It's also excellent for baking and salads. Washington's cool weather in the late fall helps develop reddish-pink color and superb flavor. Fuji's are harvested in October and can be purchased throughout the year.

Some say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But, each apple variety has its own unique personality and taste. These delicious new apple varieties are becoming a larger percentage of Washington's annual apple crop as growers rush to satisfy consumers' desires for more apple choices.

Apples that were unheard of 15 years ago are now a big part of Washington's apple family. New varieties like Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Pink Lady, Cameo, and Jonagold may account for more than one-third of the 2001 crop.

New apple varieties are developed using traditional hybridization techniques. Sometimes, new apple hybrids are created deliberately through breeding programs; sometimes new apples appear by chance.

Breeding programs can take 20 years or more to develop new varieties. Plant breeders have more than 7,500 apple varieties to choose from as parents for new apples. Parents are selected for superior flavor, crunch, appearance and other characteristics.

After parents have been chosen, they are hybridized, or crossed. The pollen of the male parent is placed on the stigma of the flower of the female's parent. An apple is pollinated and grows. Seeds from this new apple are harvested and germinated in a greenhouse. Seedlings are transferred to a nursery. They bear fruit in three to 10 years. If the fruit meets growers' high standards, grafts may be taken from the seedling to grow new trees. Only one in 10,000 new apples makes it through the screening process.

Amazingly, this same hybridization can occur by chance in apple orchards. Seeds from an apple tree that was randomly cross-pollinated drop to the orchard floor and produce a new tree. It's rare, but these chance seedlings can bear tasty new apples.

As for Americans' favorite apples, Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady and Jonagold were selected in breeding programs. Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Cameo and Rome are the products of chance.

Fuji - Production

12.7 million boxes

Washington State is the birthplace of the world's best apples. Growers devote time and energy to the upbringing of more than 12 apple varieties in their orchards. These orchards are nestled in the eastern foothills of the picturesque Cascade Mountains at elevations from 500 to 3,000 feet above sea level - not a bad place for apples to call home.

Pioneering fruit farmers first discovered the area at the turn of the 19th century. By 1826, early settlers had discovered the region's rich lava-ash soil and plentiful sunshine, which created perfect conditions for growing apples. Washington's arid climate also meant fewer insect and disease problems and a smoother finish on the apples than in other places.

Noting the health and vigor of apple trees planted along stream banks, pioneers developed irrigation systems and by 1889, commercial orchards were established. Most apple-growing districts in the state are still located along the banks of major rivers.

The average size of an orchard is less than 50 acres, but some cover as many as 3,000 acres and employ 300 or more workers year-round. An estimated 35,000 to 45,000 pickers are employed at the peak of harvest.

Recipes

Bette's Apple Crumb Pie

Chunky Apple Molasses Muffins

Lib's Apple Crisp

Other recipes from Produce Pete.

   

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