The Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) has developed a new breed of apple, dubbed as "black apple" that can rival the Pink Lady as world's most popular apple.
It took DAFWA 20 years of breeding and testing to develop the black apple. The new breed is a dark burgundy-skinned apple and is a cross between Cripps Red and Royal Gala. It has has sweetness and moderate to high crisp and crunch factor that is unique to its kind. It is medium in size with very good flavor and storing quality.
"Color development on the skin is important for consumers and the new apple colors up well in Western Australian growing conditions - better than apples which prefer colder climates," DAFWA said in a statement.
Black apple is a product of the Australian National Apple Breeding Program made possible by investments from both Western Australian Government and Horticulture Australia Ltd.
Black apple trees are now available to Western Australian growers.
"About 75,000 trees are available for sale to growers from the budding in 2013. Small quantities of fruit should become available for sale in 2016.The apple is grower friendly because the tree is productive, the fruit colours easily and the apples stand out from existing varieties on the shop shelves," DAFWA said.
Fruit West Co-operative Ltd. will handle commercial sales of the new apple breed.
Comparing the black apple to Pink Lady, Anne Lister, an apple grower in Manjimup and director of the Fruit West Cooperative, said the latter is still a fabulous variety, but the new apple is more appealing to the eye.
"We still think the Pink lady is a fabulous variety, but this new variety has such appeal to the eye with its really dark colour and it has a lovely sweetness to it, which it gets in part from the Royal Gala. Constantly people are breeding new varieties of apples, but when you get something as distinctive as this, and whether we like it or not, consumers do actually buy with their eyes, but it ticks all the boxes and follows up with a great flavour profile," Lister told ABC.
Terry Martella, an orchadist whose family had been in the apple growing business for 62 years, believed black apple will become a success.
"It has a real point of difference in its appearance and its very good to eat. We're quite confident that it's a good variety. When you're dealing with the chain stores, they are always looking for something new - people get bored with old stuff," Martella said.