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Cornell forges licensing agreement with new New York apple industry group

ITHACA, N.Y. Cornell University has forged a licensing agreement with a new apple industry group the New York State Apple Growers LLC (NYAG) to grow and market two new, patented premium apple varieties.

Susan Brown, Cornell professor of horticultural at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y., developed the new varieties. The new varieties are Cornell's 65th and 66th apple-variety releases.

Cornell will trademark them with input from NYAG to ensure proper branding, as they have been under development for some 14 years. Their formal names will be announced in the fall.

Both are crisp and firm. The juicy snap of "New York 1" (a placeholder name for the patent) recalls its Honeycrisp parent, but the trees produce more reliably and the fruit stores well. Sweet and tart "New York 2" is suited for baking and fresh use, and boasts the added benefit of higher levels of vitamin C, according to Brown.

The new agreement is a first for Cornell's apple-breeding program, which in the past has publicly released all new varieties to nurseries and growers and has only recovered limited tree royalties.

A new distribution model, called a "managed release," is becoming the norm for university breeding programs to advance the interests of the communities they serve.

Commercialization of new varieties can be challenging in a marketplace dominated by large grocery chains populated by brand savvy consumers. It can take 20 years to successfully commercialize a new type of apple, says Brown. By coordinating the supply and marketing, the managed release agreement will reduce that time by half. And, by receiving some of the return on investment, Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences can support its breeding program.

All of the nearly 600 apple growers in New York state will have the opportunity to join NYAG this year. Broad participation from growers is key to commercial success because, although large wholesale growers ultimately supply supermarkets, the farm stands of smaller producers play a significant role in introducing new varieties to consumers.

Growers will pay royalties on trees purchased, acreage planted and fruit produced. NYAG will pay licensing royalties to Cornell, determine the total statewide acreage for the new varieties, ensure quality standards at harvest and use a portion of the income generated from members to market the apples as well as some to directly fund the Cornell apple breeding program. For growers, planting new varieties is always a high-risk, potentially high-return venture. The managed variety system buffers the risk by addressing the biggest commercial hurdles marketing and distribution.


Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University

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