To sustain and continue to enhance a successful Washington apple industry, access to new improved varieties is essential. The WSU apple breeding program (WABP) has exciting new material at all stages of the selection pipeline from valuable donor parents through newly produced seeds to elite selections in grower trials. As much of the pipeline germplasm is now second generation WABP-selected, the potential for identification of new varieties suited to the WA growing conditions is further increased.
Application of DNA-informed breeding is now routine in the WABP and this, along with continued pursuit of efficiency increases, has resulted in the WABP being recognized as one of the most progressive tree fruit breeding programs in the world.
The Washington State University apple breeding program began in 1994 to develop new varieties suitable to the unique climate of central Washington. Washington is the leading apple producing state with over 50% of U.S. production. Unfortunately, many of the new varieties developed in the world are not well adapted to growing conditions in central Washington or available to the majority of Washington growers.
The goal is to produce apples of a high eating quality with particular factors of outstanding flavor, texture and juiciness. The breeding program is a traditional breeding program, hybridizing parents with desirable traits. Promising seedlings are selected from large populations and their fruit is evaluated in the laboratory for eating quality and suitability for long-term storage.
The first release from the program, ‘WA 2’, was offered to Washington State growers for evaluation in December 2009. This was followed by ‘WA 5’ in 2010 and ‘WA 38’ in 2012. Several other elite selections have been planted in commercial grower trials in central Washington.
Support for this program comes from Washington State University and the Washington apple industry through the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
To produce a portfolio of new improved unique varieties, especially selected for the environment of central Washington and available to the growers of central Washington
- Eating quality and appearance
- Regular Cropping
- High Yield
- Resistance to sunburn, powdery mildew and fire blight