Jan 27, 2017
Stark Bro’s introduce new apple varieties

Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards Co. has three new apples hitting to the market: Stark Scarlet Crush, Stark Ruby Darling, and Stark Franklin Cider (pictured above, left to right). All will be available for the 2017 season.

Stark Scarlet Crush is a Honeycrisp/Pink Lady cross with sweet and citrusy notes, and Honeycrisp’s characteristic snap and juice.

Stark Ruby Darling, a natural hybrid of Honeycrisp and Gala, is a large, cherry-red fruit with a distinctive crunch and extra-large cells of sweet juice. Perhaps the best news for growers is that both of these crosses can be grown farther south than the original, and they also extend the short Honeycrisp season, according to Stark Bro’s.

“Both crosses have good, uniform fruit shape, attractiveness, eating quality and firmness,” said Ken Lane, Stark Bro’s chief marketing officer. “The real benefit is in their ripening time, which is from late September through early October, giving commercial growers a longer, much more profitable harvest window for Honeycrisp.”

The company’s third new apple, Stark Franklin Cider, is high in tannins, acids and sugar.

All three apples were discovered the same way Stark Bro’s Red Delicious and Golden Delicious were discovered: growers sent samples to the company for evaluation.

Long-time Stark Bro’s customers Lee and Mary Elliott set out to “build a better apple” by crossing their Honeycrisps with other thoroughbred apples to create a “new-and-improved” Honeycrisp.

Mary and Lee Elliott

Stark Bro’s evaluated the Elliotts’ new apples, and two of the samples — now officially trademarked as Stark Scarlet Crush and Stark Ruby Darling — are making their debut in the Stark Bro’s Spring 2017 consumer catalog.

Back in 2008, Bill Mayo discovered a chance seedling in the midst of his 400-tree Honeycrisp orchard, and started incorporating it into the cider he was making for his general store in Franklin, Vermont. Samples of Mayo’s mystery apple made their way to Stark Bro’s. The cold-hardy apple has formally been named Stark® Franklin Cider™, as an homage to the town where it originated. More than 2,000 trees were immediately budded on B.118 and are now available to growers on a wholesale basis.

Terence Bradshaw, tree fruit and viticulture specialist at the University of Vermont, noted that the Stark Franklin Cider apple ranked fifth highest in total polyphenols, third highest in sugars, and that the apple’s acidity is akin to ‘Northern Spy’ and ‘Liberty’.


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