Nurseries Discuss Club Varieties

In recent years, one of the red-hot topics in the apple-growing business is so-called “club,” or managed, varieties. At American/Western Fruit Grower, we’ve heard from many growers on the topic, whether at industry meetings or the poll we include in our weekly eNewsletter.

For example, a poll in December asked: “Do you think club varieties are good for the industry?” Interestingly, more than three quarters of the respondents, or 76%, answered with a resounding “No.”

So it seemed like a natural topic to revisit in this issue of the magazine, in which we survey some of the nation’s top tree fruit, nut, and grapevine nurseries. Which nurseries we survey largely depends on the topic. This year, for example, the survey was limited to apple tree providers.

At any rate, we thought it was high time to hear from some of the people who provide most growers in the U.S. with their apple trees what they think about managed varieties. What follows are some questions we posed followed by some provocative answers from such industry leaders as Pete Van Well of Van Well Nursery in East Wenatchee, WA; Neal Manly of Willow Drive Nursery in Ephrata, WA; and Phil Baugher of Adams County Nursery in Aspers, PA.

A/WFG: In general, how do you feel about managed varieties?

Van Well: Managed varieties have their place, and if they provide better returns for growers, that is good news. The potential problem I see is how many managed varieties will the market bear. As more and more varieties go club, the industry may have to continue to create new approaches to marketing these new varieties.

Manly: As (just one) part of a diversified production portfolio.

Baugher: I think there are more managed varieties than there are slots in produce departments of the major retailers. Therefore it is critical to those who launch these varieties that attention is paid to fruit quality. There are many great apple varieties already in the pipeline so for a new variety to find a place, it must be exceptional.

A/WFG: What do you see happening with them in the future?

Van Well: There will be a time when we see a glut of managed varieties, and some will inevitably go by the wayside.

Manly: The verdict is still out. Some early successes hopefully will build momentum for the future.

A/WFG: Will we continue to see more of them, as we have in the recent past?

Van Well: I believe it will slow over time, or new better varieties will take the place of older managed varieties.

Baugher: I do not think we are going to see as many in the next 10 years as we have in the past 10 and we may see new innovative models for releasing new varieties.

A/WFG: As more new varieties are introduced under managed programs, what are you doing to market your own new varieties to growers?

Van Well: We continue to look for new varieties. The question now when we find a promising new variety is how to release it. Open releases, such as Blondee, we aggressively advertise in trade publications and our catalog. Managed varieties, we take a much more subdued approach. We try to target those varieties only to people in the club.

Manly: Without marketing support, all new varieties will struggle to succeed.

Baugher: We are not interested in managing a variety. Variety management needs to be done by the packer/shipper. As nursery growers, we do not feel that we have expertise in the managing of varieties, however we may take new selections that we control in the future and find partners in the growing and packing sector.

Leave a Reply

Apples & Pears Stories
Apples & PearsWashington Apple Detective Finds ‘Lost’ Varieties
April 9, 2015
Works with university researchers to resurrect apples of the Palouse region. Read More
Bartlett Pears
Apples & PearsPears Examined For Probiotic Benefits
April 8, 2015
Study published in Food Research International highlights the nutritional benefits of a diet rich in pears. Read More
sweet cherry bloom
Apples & PearsCold Spell Hits Mid-Columbia Region
April 3, 2015
Cherry and grape growers use wind machines, irrigation to protect early blooms and buds from freezing temperatures. Read More
apple blossom in Pennsylvania
Apples & PearsAn In-Depth Look At Bloom
March 31, 2015
Do you know what happens after the bees fly away? Here's an in-depth look at what happens in spring. Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Apples & PearsHow Will We Sell All These Apples? [Opinion]
March 30, 2015
Apple production is reaching heights that would have been unthinkable two or three decades ago. That's great news for growers — if we can sell them all profitably, Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
The Latest
Apples & PearsAPHIS Proposal To Allow Apples From China Becomes Rule
April 23, 2015
Growers in China expected to follow set standards of production to prevent possible importing of new pests. Read More
Apples & PearsFruit Processor To Expand Operations In Virginia
April 22, 2015
Andros Foods North America to invest $73 million in area and hiring 160. Read More
Gala green tip apple bloom
Apples & PearsApple Scab Spores Begin To Emerge In Pennsylvania
April 14, 2015
Now is a good time to apply copper sprays to protect trees. Read More
Apples & PearsWashington Apple Detective Finds ‘Lost’ Varieties
April 9, 2015
Works with university researchers to resurrect apples of the Palouse region. Read More
Bartlett Pears
Apples & PearsPears Examined For Probiotic Benefits
April 8, 2015
Study published in Food Research International highlights the nutritional benefits of a diet rich in pears. Read More
sweet cherry bloom
Apples & PearsCold Spell Hits Mid-Columbia Region
April 3, 2015
Cherry and grape growers use wind machines, irrigation to protect early blooms and buds from freezing temperatures. Read More
apple blossom in Pennsylvania
Apples & PearsAn In-Depth Look At Bloom
March 31, 2015
Do you know what happens after the bees fly away? Here's an in-depth look at what happens in spring. Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Apples & PearsHow Will We Sell All These Apples? [Opinion]
March 30, 2015
Apple production is reaching heights that would have been unthinkable two or three decades ago. That's great news for growers — if we can sell them all profitably, Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
Apples & PearsMeet USApple’s Class of 2015 Young Apple Leaders
March 27, 2015
Young decision-makers see trip as an opportunity make sure the voice of the apple industry is heard by representatives. Read More
Pennsylvania hard cider guild logo
Apples & PearsPennsylvania Hard Cider Producers Founded Independent T…
March 25, 2015
The Pennsylvania Cider Guild is designed to help promote and educate members and consumers. Read More
Apples & PearsNeedles Found In Honeycrisp Sold At Grocery Store
March 24, 2015
Apples were believed to be tampered with; initial surveillance footage was inconclusive. Read More
Apples & PearsMonster Crops: How Much Is Too Much?
March 24, 2015
With larger-than-ever crops, more new varieties and uncertain markets, we explore the current state of apple production and what it means for the future of the industry. Read More
gmo apple
Apples & PearsFDA Concludes GMO Crops Innate Potato And Arctic Apple …
March 20, 2015
The agency says the evaluated varieties are as safe and nutritious as conventional counterparts. Read More
Apples & PearsIndia Eyed As Next Export Market For Washington Apple C…
March 17, 2015
Promotion plan includes focus on increasing shipments of Red Delicious in growing export market. Read More
Apples & PearsCompany Responsible For First GMO Apples Is Sold
February 27, 2015
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the company behind the world's first non-browning apples, fetches $41 million. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Plant Growth Regulator Use Expanded
February 26, 2015
Ten more states grant registrations for Fine Americas’ new Kudos PGR. Read More