Apr 10, 2024
WSU contest to name apple cultivar

For more than 20 years, Washington State University’s (WSU) newest apple has been known by a mix of numbers and initials. It’s now time for apple lovers to give WA 64 a name.

An online survey and contest is open, seeking a distinctive name for this pink-hued, firmly crisp, sweet and tart apple. Visitors to WSU’s Pullman campus can learn about the apple at in-person events planned this spring.

Washington State University WSU logo“It’s taken more than two decades to bring WA 64 from a single tree to release,” Jeremy Tamsen, director of innovation and commercialization for WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, said in a news release. “We hope it makes a big splash in the market, but we need the right name.”

A hybrid of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink, a variety better known as the trademarked Pink Lady apple, WA 64 has outstanding eating and storage qualities. It was selected for the fresh market.

“WA 64 is a great balance of tart and sweet, firm, crisp, and juicy,” Kate Evans, professor and head of WSU’s apple breeding program, said in the release. “In taste tests, people prefer its texture to Cripps Pink — it’s crisper.”

The contest to name the apple is open to all U.S. residents age 18 and older, and ends May 5.

Along with name ideas, survey respondents are also asked a few additional questions, including why they chose their suggestion and whether they have purchased fresh apples in the past three months.

“We’re looking for a name that’s memorable and punchy,” Tamsen said in the release. “An ideal name might play on our apple’s qualities or draw a connection with Washington state, where WA 64 will be exclusively grown for at least the next 10 years.”

WA 64 apples grow in a test orchard at Quincy, Washington.

One name suggestion is allowed per individual entrant. The winning name gains its creator an exclusive, juicy prize: A gift box of WA 64 apples. Other prizes include Cougar Gold cheese, WSU spice rubs, an engraved charcuterie board and a university-branded coffee cup and water bottle.

“This contest lets Washington State University tap into the creative juices of minds across the country,” Tamsen said in the release. “The winner gets to see their suggestion help market this delicious apple. Every time they take a bite, they’ll be reminded of that creativity.”

Since online survey respondents won’t be able to taste the apple, they will have to rely on the written description, photos and their imaginations to come up with a name.

First bred in Wenatchee, Washington in 1998, WA 64 was trialed at a handful of research orchards in Washington state and officially released last summer. Trees will be widely available to growers in 2026, with the apple expected to reach grocery stores in 2029.

WA 64’s release follows the successful launch in 2019 of Cosmic Crisp, a cross of Enterprise and Honeycrisp that is now among the top 10 best-selling U.S. apple varieties by sales and volume. This is the apple breeding program’s 64th apple to move into the second of a three-phase process of selection. WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences is in the process of selecting a commercial licensee to manage the rollout to Washington growers, according to the release.

Royalties from sales of trees and apples support apple breeding research at WSU. Funded by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, scientists are also studying the best ways to grow and harvest WA 64.

“We’re adding to WSU’s portfolio of new and improved apple varieties and creating different eating experiences to meet the varied tastes and demands of consumers,” Evans said in the release.

Enter the contest and share your ideas for WA 64’s official name here. 

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