Nov 14, 2022
Pink Lady apple breeder honored

Apple industry people paid tribute to John Cripps, the apple breeder who developed the Cripps Pink apple, marketed as Pink Lady.

At the Nov. 1 International Pink Lady Alliance (IPLA) conference in Bangkok, Thailand, Cripps, who died May 10 in Australia, was honored for his breeding. IPLA played a video showing various apple people from throughout the world commenting on Cripps’ legacy. Cripps was 95.

The video honored Cripps for his “very excellent work” in discovering the pink and red apples “He was passionate about the concept of apple breeding,” IPLA members said of Cripps.

John Cripps, the Australian apple breeder who developed the Pink Lady apple, was recently honored by International Pink Lady Alliance members. Photos courtesy IPLA.

Cripps was an apple breeder in the Department of Agriculture in western Australia. His work bringing the trademarked Cripps Pink/Pink Lady apple to consumers across the globe was a culmination of 25 years of research, according to Pink Lady America.

“The fellowship and camaraderie that has come about as a consequence of the Pink Lady business has been phenomenal,” said IPLA chairman Jon Durham, the director of Jon Durham Nominees and former managing director of Apple & Pear Australia Ltd. “For me and many others, it’s the apple that has made Pink Lady such a lifelong memorable and gratifying experience for all of us.”

IPLA is an alliance of members who have been passionately involved in Pink Lady apples, Durham said in the video. Durham and other global apple growers, exporters and importers made comments in the tribute.

“I found him (Cripps) to be a very quiet, unassuming man,” Durham said in the video. “The privileges that have come as a consequence of his legacy in Cripps’ Pink Lady apples have been enormous. At the financial level, certainly there are many in the global apple chain that have enjoyed significant financial rewards as a consequence of becoming involved in the business of Pink Lady Apples.”

Cripps’ work led him to “have the ingenious idea to cross a Golden Delicious and a Lady Williams, creating the delicious Cripps Pink variety,” Pink Lady said in a web posting. Over time, other varieties related to the original Cripps Pink were licensed under the Pink Lady brand.

Dr. Helen Cripps, Cripps’ daughter, stated the family was proud of her father’s contribution to horticulture and to the apple industry. “He was looking for a particular taste, he was looking for the red color, the sweetness, the crispness,” she said in the Pink Lady posting. “We are so proud that he’s left a legacy. He tasted so many apples he used to get stomach complaints, because he used to have to do the tastings.”

Cripps’ daughter explained how her father created the apples’ distinctive taste. “It’s not just about crossing and getting a single apple, it’s about having to take the seeds, create seedlings and get the trees to grow to a certain size,” she said in a radio interview.

In 1991, Cripps Pink/Pink Lady apples first began harvesting and later became honored as one of Australia’s top 100 greatest inventions. The Pink Lady brand became 30 percent of Australia’s apple production, according to a news release. For 2022/23, Cripps Pink/Pink Lady is the eighth biggest apple variety grown in the U.S., according to USApple.

In 2010, Cripps was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia and in 2015 was named an Officer of the order of Australia.

PHOTO: John Cripps, the Australian apple breeder who developed the Pink Lady apple, was recently honored by International Pink Lady Alliance members. Photo courtesy IPLA.

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