Disease-resistant apples perform better than old favorites

Jan 10, 2018 05:46 PM EST | By Staff Reporter

Close
WineCrisp Apples
WineCrisp Apples

You may not find them in the produce aisle yet, but it's only a matter of time before new disease-resistant apple cultivars overtake favorites like Honeycrisp in popularity, according to a University of Illinois apple expert.

"I know everyone wants Honeycrisp, but they're notoriously hard to grow. There are so many issues in producing the fruit: the tree might produce a lot one year, but none the next; the fruit doesn't keep well and is susceptible to disease," says Mosbah Kushad, an associate professor of horticulture in the Department of Crop Sciences and horticulture Extension specialist at U of I.

Apples are attacked by all sorts of pests, but apple scab, a fungus, is particularly nasty. It can cause yield losses up to 80 percent. For traditional apple cultivars and many newer ones, including Honeycrisp, combating apple scab and other diseases means applying multiple pesticides several times throughout the growing season.

Fortunately, after the gene for scab resistance was discovered by a U of I scientist in 1944, a number of resistant cultivars have been developed. Kushad says the early cultivars weren't particularly good, but more recent ones show a lot of promise.

"WineCrisp, for example, is a very attractive and flavorful apple," he says. "It's not very large, but who wants to buy an apple that weighs a pound?"

A new wave of scab-resistant apples has been developed and tested as part of a cooperative breeding program through U of I, Rutgers University, and Purdue University. So far, several cultivars have proven to be as nutritious or even better for you than older types, but until now, it wasn't clear whether their quality held up over time.

In a new article published in the Journal of Food Quality, Kushad and several collaborators looked at whether scab-resistant GoldRush, WineCrisp, CrimsonCrisp, and Pixie Crunch retained their quality under standard post-harvest storage practices, and compared their performance to scab-susceptible Golden Delicious.

The researchers exposed the apples to 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), a gas now commonly used in the industry to inhibit ethylene production and slow ripening of stored fruit. "1-MCP could be the best invention for the fruit industry since apples were discovered," Kushad says. Aspects of nutritional quality and commercial viability were tested in the fruits after 70 and 140 days of storage.

In general, the eating quality - flesh firmness, sugar content, and acidity - of the scab-resistant cultivars was as good or better than Golden Delicious, before and after storage. And two of the scab-resistant cultivars, GoldRush and CrimsonCrisp, had significantly more antioxidant capacity, even after 140 days. The cultivars varied in their responsiveness to 1-MCP, with CrimsonCrisp showing the most promise for long-term storage using the product.

"What the article is saying is that the quality of the scab-resistant cultivars is very comparable to standard varieties. In terms of nutrition, health benefit, aesthetic, and taste, these apples are competing very well. As an alternative to scab-susceptible types, they will be very attractive, especially for organic growers," Kushad says.

And although you may not see WineCrisp on the grocery store shelves yet, Kushad points out that it and the other cultivars can be found in some local farmer's markets and orchards. "You'll see them in the smaller places first, but as volume builds in the top apple-growing states, they'll start showing up in the big grocery stores. I have no doubt."

© 2018 Food World News. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Get the Most Popular Food Stories in a Weekly Newsletter
Food Biz
How Can You Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins?

How Can You Reduce Your Exposure to Toxins?

There are so many ways we can experience exposure to harmful poisons, and in many cases, we may not realize it's happening. From household cleaners and similar products to children's toys, there are often toxins and poisonous products and ingredients lurking in even the most unsuspecting of places.

Top 4 reasons why more and more athletes are turning vegan

Top 4 Reasons Why More and More Athletes are Turning Vegan

All pro level athletes know about the dedication needed to not just accomplish their goals, but to achieve even bigger targets in their lives. It's also a commonly known fact that fitness and exercise alone cannot get them there. Putting the right food into their bodies is equally important.

Five Vital Asian-Foods that you should must try

Five Vital Asian-Foods that you should must try

Asian nourishment all in all is substantially more sound than Western cooking. With the absence of dairy fat and added substances, alongside an emphasis on zingy season and crisp fixings, it's anything but difficult to discover solid alternatives on any Asian-propelled menu.

Food Tech
TOP WEDDING FOOD TRENDS FOR 2020

Top Wedding Food Trends For 2020

Tired of the conventional three-course meals at wedding receptions? Want something different? Give the menu a twist with our trendy wedding food ideas.

Famous Ports in Scotland

Famous Ports in Scotland

The United Kingdom, which is considered one of the most interesting places in the world. Mainly due to the versatility of its existence and the Union of the countries involved in the empire.

Night Markets in Asia

Night Markets in Asia

Traveling to new cities is always an exciting adventure. One of the best ways to see a city and try local food is by visiting famous night markets. Night markets are always bustling and full of locals and foreigners trying the delights.

Real Time Analytics