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Local growers help promote new apple

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 February 2015 at 12:00 am

RubyFrost gets star treatment from Wegmans, other grocers

Provided photo – Brett Kast, right, of Kast Farms in Albion is pictured with his wife Amanda on Saturday at the Wegmans in Buffalo on Sheridan Drive. Peter Weisenborn, a Kast family cousin, stopped by to sample the new RubyFrost apple.

An apple that debuted last year at farm markets is out in bigger numbers this time, and local growers are helping to promote the new variety.

RubyFrost is one of two new varieties developed exclusively for New York apple growers. The apple is a late season variety. After spending some time in storage, New York apple growers and several big grocery chains are pushing the apple right now throughout the state and the Northeast.

Many of the apple farmers are taking turns in stores, answering consumers’ questions about the RubyFrost variety. Brett Kast, a partner and orchard manager at Kast Farms, was at a Wegmans in Buffalo last Saturday with his wife Amanda.
Customers sampled the apple, and Kast said people were overwhelmingly positive.

“It was a great experience to see the hard work you put into it and then see the consumers’ reaction,” Kast said. “Everybody who tried it absolutely loved it.”

RubyFrost is a cross between Braeburn with Autumn Crisp. The new apple is 95 percent red. It is firm with a sweet taste. Kast said the flavor matures while the apple is in storage.

New York apple growers also partnered with Cornell to grow and market SnapDragon. That apple is a cross between Honeycrisp and NY 752. The apple is ready earlier in the season.

The apple growers formed a new cooperative, New York Apple Growers LLC, to manage where the apples would be grown. The new varieties have been planted on 930 acres in apple-growing regions throughout the state. Roger Lamont of Albion is chairman of the cooperative.

The new apples won’t be grown in other states. Michigan and Washington, which are big apple producers, won’t have access to SnapDragon and RubyFrost. The exclusivity will be a benefit to New York growers.

But they need to make consumers of aware of the new varieties. That’s why Kast and other growers are appearing in stores to introduce consumers to SnapDragon and RubyFrost, and to let the public know the apples are excusively grown in New York. For consumers in the Buffalo and Rochester markets, the apples may have been grown only a short distance away, perhaps at orchards in Orleans or Wayne counties.

Kast said most of the consumers who tried the apple decided to buy a bag of the RubyFrost.

“I didn’t have to push too hard to sell the apple,” he said.

For more information on RubyFrost and where it is available, click here.