Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 13, 2012 17:13 ET

Innovation Bearing Fruit for Canadian Apple Producers

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 13, 2012) -

Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

Apple lovers will have a new variety to sink their teeth into that is set to debut in select stores this fall. The Honourable Ron Cannan, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, revealed the name of the newest apple on the market today at the annual University of British Columbia (UBC) Apple Festival by introducing the Salish™.

"This is a delicious example of government and industry working together to deliver new market opportunities to our farmers," said MP Cannan. "When you taste the Salish™ apple here today, you are sampling the sweet rewards of many years of research and investments in innovation that will pay off for the farmers that grow this tasty achievement."

The Salish™ is tangy, juicy and very crisp. It is medium-sized, with a pinkish red blush over a yellow background colour. The apple has characteristics that appeal not only to consumers, with its high quality appearance, texture and flavour, but also those that Canadian apple growers seek, such as its late harvest date, good storage and shelf life, high yields and good growth habits for high-density orchards.

Previously only known as SPA493, the Salish™ apple was developed and tested by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) scientists, in partnership with the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation (PICO). Like all AAFC varieties, this new apple was developed using traditional cross-pollination methods. It originated from a cross between 'Splendour' and 'Gala' cultivars made in 1981 at AAFC's Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC) in Summerland, British Columbia.

Once the desired characteristics were yielded by AAFC scientists, PICO worked extensively in testing and evaluating the new variety with growers. The partnership between AAFC and PICO is a rewarding one and has resulted in the introduction of some significant tree fruit and berry varieties. PICO licenses new varieties of tree fruits - both domestically and internationally - that appeal to consumers and growers and helps refine horticultural practices.

"With already fifteen orchardists committed to growing the Salish™, we look forward to having increased production year after year," stated John Kingsmill, General Manager & CEO of PICO. "This delightful apple holds the promise of being one of the best."

New apple varieties help Canadian tree fruit growers expand production and give them a competitive edge in markets around the world. The commercialization of new apple varieties also boosts the economy by expanding domestic production and increasing exports of tree fruit products. The Canadian apple industry generates a significant amount of economic activity not only at the farm gate, but also throughout the horticulture value chain through the packing, processing, selling and transportation of apples. With a farm gate value of $160 million, apples were the second most valuable Canadian fruit in 2011, and with the introduction of this new variety, apple producers can be assured that their sector will continue to grow.

To find out more about AAFC science, please visit


About the Salish

The Salish™ is named for the Canadian Interior language of Thompson, Okanagan-Colville, and Shuswap. AAFC researchers at the Pacific Agri-Food Centre (PARC) in Summerland led the Salish's™ development and worked closely with the Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation (PICO) to test it with growers.

The Salish™ consistently scored very well in formal sensory panels, thanks to its tangy, juicy flavour and crisp texture. In a joint project with AAFC's breeding program and PICO, PARC's sensory program ran additional consumer tests at the UBC Apple Festival. The Salish™ generated a lot of positive response, with festival goers returning to ask for it specifically. A few specialty stores in the Vancouver area have also created a loyal following for the apple.

Limited quantities of the Salish™ will be available for sale at select stores in Greater Vancouver and Kelowna this fall. (See list of retailers at

Apple Production in British Columbia

In 2011, BC produced about 24% of the apples grown in Canada and was the third largest producer after Ontario and Quebec. The total marketed production from BC in 2011 was 96,614 metric tons with a farm gate value of C$36.7 million. This represented about 26% of the national farm gate value of apples in 2011 (Statistics Canada).

About 60% of all planted land in BC orchards is planted with apple trees. Nearly 92% of the apple crop is sold fresh, with British Columbians consuming around 25% of the apples grown in BC. The rest of the crop is processed, with apple juice being the most popular product.

Of the $14.4 million in fresh apples exported from BC, 74% went to the U.S. Out of the top 10 markets for BC apple exports, six are in Asia and two are in South America.

What does it take to breed a new apple?

Since 1924, PARC researchers have focused exclusively on the traditional breeding methods that have produced some of the world's most popular apples, such as the Spartan. It is one of the first apple breeding programs in the world to use formal sensory evaluation panels to screen breeding selections for taste, texture and appearance.

It takes at least 20 years to develop a new variety. Each year thousands of new trees are added and inferior ones are removed from test orchards. AAFC partners with industry to conduct three stages of testing that each new variety must pass before it becomes commercially available:

1. Seedling Stage: 25,000 to 30,000 different types, one tree of each for initial screening.

2. Second Selection Stage: Fewer than 1% of the seedlings from stage 1 are re-propagated after screening. At this stage there are about 400 types, four to ten trees of each.

3. On-Farm Testing: Five (or fewer) of the most promising cultivars are tested in commercial orchards under different management and climate conditions. Each grower would have anywhere from 5 up to several hundred trees.

About PICO

PICO has exclusive evaluation, distribution, propagation and commercialization rights for plant material developed in the apple and cherry breeding programs of PARC at Summerland, British Columbia, as well as non-exclusive rights to plant material developed in the berry and soft fruit breeding program at PARC, Agassiz, British Columbia. Owned by the British Columbia Fruit Growers' Association, PICO is regarded as a world leader in the area of variety rights management and currently manages intellectual property rights in more than a dozen countries. PICO is also engaged in research and development activities on its own behalf and on behalf of grower organizations in Canada. The R&D is focused on improving the competitiveness of Canada's tree fruit and berry growers. For more information, please visit

To view the photo associated with this press release, please visit the following link:

Contact Information

  • Media Relations
    Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
    Ottawa, Ontario

    Jeff English
    Press Secretary
    The Office of the Honourable Gerry Ritz

    Tracy Cobb
    Communications Consultant for the
    Okanagan Plant Improvement Corporation (PICO)