A new apple variety, WA 64, has been developed by Washington State University’s apple breeding program. The college is taking suggestions on what to name the variety. (WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences)

A new apple variety, WA 64, has been developed by Washington State University’s apple breeding program. The college is taking suggestions on what to name the variety. (WSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences)

Editorial: Apple-naming contest fun celebration of state icon

A new variety developed at WSU needs a name. But take a pass on suggesting Crispy McPinkface.

By The Herald Editorial Board

Here’s you chance to pick a name that will go on millions of chore-to-peel-off labels on apples grown in Washington state.

Apple breeders at Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences have developed a new apple variety, a cross between the popular varieties Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink, also known as Pink Lady. Currently dubbed WA 64 — for the 64th variety developed at the WSU college — the apple offers a balance between its two parent pommes.

“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 a release last week, The Washington State Standard reported.

The apple, with good storage quality, is small to medium in size, yellow with a pink to red blush peel, and described by developers as more crisp and juicy than the Cripps Pink but slightly less so than a Honeycrisp, with sweetness and acidity between the two varieties.

But it needs a name snappier than WA 64.

The college is asking for name suggestions and accepting entries until May 5 at wsu.edu/wa64contest/.

Lest you be tempted to suggest Apple McAppleface or even Crispy McPinkface, the apple breeders are looking for something with a connection to WSU, Washington state or the new apple’s characteristics, but no mash-ups — applesauce? — of the hybrid’s parents, such as Honey Pink or Pink Crisp. And no profanity, offensive language, existing trademarks or illegal substances or activities, as — we’re guessing — most of those are already in use by the state’s recreational cannabis industry.

“We’re looking for a name that’s memorable and punchy,” Jeremy Tamsen, a WSU apple spokesperson, said in a news release.

Along with seeing the name at produce bins at the local grocery, the person with the winning entry will receive a gift box of the WA 64 apples, a charcuterie board engraved with the new name, a 30-ounce can of WSU Creamery’s Cougar Gold cheddar cheese, two bottles of WSU-developed spice rubs and a WSU coffee mug and water bottle.

As treasured as a tin of Cougar Gold is, the honor of naming the new apple would be significant. WA 64 has been in development since 1998 at the college’s tree fruit research center and extension office in Wenatchee. But it’s only the third apple to be released to growers by the research program. The trees are expected to be available to growers by 2026 — but only to Washington state orchards for the first 10 years or longer — and not available in grocery stores until 2029.

WA 64 follows two other varieties developed by WSU breeders, including WA 38, which is now known as Cosmic Crisp and WA 2, the first apple released by the breeding program and which is now called Sunrise Magic, a cross of Splendour and Gala apples.

Although more than 30 apple varieties are grown in the state, the most popular varieties include Gala, which passed Red Delicious in production about six years ago, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Cripps Pink and Cameo.

WSU is being protective of the new variety; even when eventually made available to foreign orchards, import into U.S. markets of the apples will be barred.

Apples are serious business in Washington state, which harvests between 10 billion and 12 billion apples each year; supplying 6 of every 10 apples consumed in the U.S.

Apples are grown on 175,000 acres of orchards in the state with a market value of nearly $2 billion each year. The industry employed more than 17,000 people in 2022, about a fifth of all agricultural jobs, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

A name that honors the apple industry, the state — and the apple, itself — is worth a few minutes of appreciation and thought.

Now, if the folks at Wazzu could do something about the annoying labels … .

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