Canada’s Newest Apple Variety

One of Canada’s largest apple producers, Algoma Orchards, based near New Castle, just east of Toronto on the north shore of Lake Ontario, has launched a new premium consumer apple. The new variety was launched in October and has become a fast favorite in grocery stores and with consumers.

Branded and trademarked ‘Snowflake,’ Kirk Kemp of Algoma Orchards says the journey from grafting the initial seed-stock in his orchard to growing the trees all the way to selling to wholesale at grocery stores started 20 years ago. Kemp says he took a trip across Canada to look for seed-stock at Agriculture Canada’s apple research station in Summerland, British Columbia.

“Twenty years ago, I went out to the research station at Summerland B.C. I brought back ten apples from five different varieties. I had to talk to Agrifood Canada to see if I they’d give me a test-license and graft them onto trees to grow them in our climate. Summerland’s more of a drier climate than southern Ontario, and apples will end up turning out a little different in a very humid area versus a dry area. So, we let them grow there for four or five years.”

Initially, five tree-grafts were successful, and over the next 20 years, Kemp expanded the number of trees growing what would eventually be called the Snowflake apple. Over the years, Kemp sub-licensed a few other apple producers to grow the trees. Kemp says the tree is good in the orchard, and from those first five grafts, there are now 50-thousand trees in six orchards across southern Ontario.

“The tree grows quite well, we kind of like it in the orchard, and it’s relatively easily managed. It’s a vigorous tree, it yields quite well, and we’ve given four or five growers in southern Ontario the right to grow some of them, themselves, so to kind of spread it around a little bit. Between ourselves and the other growers that grow it, we have 50 thousand. We have another 20 thousand coming this spring.

Kemp says that the Snowflake can be used as a cooking apple, but the market has decided the Snowflake is a premium table apple.

“It does cook well, but it is mostly an out-of-the-hand eating apple. It’s a medium-sized apple. It’s very firm. It’s quite dense. When you first bite it, it has a little bit of a tang, but then the sweetness comes in after. And it’s a very complex flavor, so it’s kind of a unique taste. It comes out right near the top, with twenty different varieties in the taste test. We’re really excited about it.”

Algoma Orchards holds the license to produce and market Snowflake apples across Canada, while Agriculture Canada’s Summerland Research Station holds the international marketing rights.