SELECTED West Australian apple growers are turning to the dark side with a new apple variety.
Joint brand owner Fruit West Co-operative Ltd announced Bravo as the marketing name this week ahead of a field day to be held on April 18 at the DAFWA Manjimup Horticultural Research Institute.
Described as a burgundy-coloured apple, it has a "distinct sweetness, moderate to high crisp and crunch".
The Bravo apple will hit WA and New South Wales supermarket shelves this season and is the result of 20 years of breeding.
WA consumers will be able to buy freshly picked 2016 season fruit from the growing areas Perth Hills, Donnybrook and Manjimup.
Only fruit which meet the required standards can be sold under the Bravo trademark.
The variety name, ANABP 01, is a WA-bred product and is owned by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), and Fruit West (the licensee for Australia) in conjunction with Apple and Pear Australia Ltd (APAL).
It was bred through the Australian National Apple Breeding Program (ANABP), with support from the Western Australian Government and Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA).
Third generation fruit producer Mario Casotti who has orchards in the Donnybrook/Manjimup area said Bravo is potentially the best performing apple he’s seen.
“It is absolute credit to the world class apple breeding team at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA," Mr Casotti said.
“As far as I am concerned the Bravo ticks all the boxes for the grower, retailer and consumer and not since the success of Pink Lady have we had such a promising opportunity.
"There is huge potential for growers to rejuvenate the apple market, create global demand and lift apple returns across the country.
"It's almost making me cry, that's how good this apple is."
Bravo is a 1992 cross between Royal Gala and the well-known Western Australian apple variety Cripps Red (marketed as Sundowner in most places but Joya in Europe) at the Stoneville Research Station.
The first two trees were sent to the current DAFWA research centre at Manjimup for evaluation and development.
Trees were planted at a number of Australian Pome Fruit Improvement Program sites in the eastern states during evaluation of the variety.
The first commercial release of ANABP 01 apple trees was done in 2014.
Since the commercial release, trees have been purchased and planted at a number of sites in Manjimup, Donnybrook and the Perth Hills along with eastern states sites.
For growers, the variety is said to colour easily with trees being productive and easy to manage with good regular cropping.
According to DAFWA, ANABP 01 produces regular crops of medium to large size fruit that are not prone to surface cracking, bitter pit, superficial scald or internal disorders.
The average size is between 75mm and 85mm in diameter and the average weight ranges between 180g and 245g.
It is a mid to late season variety that performs well in regions with long warm to hot summers.
ANABP 01 apple trees have medium vigour and a spreading growth habit with wide branch angles similar to its parent Cripps Red.
The development of fruiting laterals is sufficient but not prolific and tree shape suggests that it would be suited to a range of rootstocks and tree training systems.
Bravo apples ripen towards the end of the apple harvest season - about 27 days after Golden Delicious and 14 days before apples from Cripps Pink.
In Manjimup this is normally around mid-April but is dependent on seasonal conditions.
DAFWA advises that Bravo apples respond to good temperature and storage management.
"Fruit should be pre-cooled to 2–4 degrees Celsius within 24 hours of harvest. Optimum storage temperature is 0 to 0.5deg C," it said.
It also said fruit colour and maturity on the tree is uniform enabling the potential for the full harvest to be achieved in one pick.
Growers interested in planting Bravo trees have been advised to contact Fruit West which warned that stocks are limited.
Fruit West board chairman Dr Ben Darbyshire said there are still trees available.
“We are keen to work with growers to increase plantings and develop the variety and build on the strong consumer demand our market research is predicting,” Dr Darbyshire said.
“With massive export potential, Australian Bravo fruit will be first into the international market and we see capturing the export opportunities that abound, as the game changer the Australian apple industry needs."
*For more information about purchasing trees or the field day, contact Fruit West executive officer Nardia Stacy on (08) 9368 3869 or email@example.com