kronus said: http://www.mndaily.com/2009/09/07/sweetango-apple-hits-market
"Tax dollars helped fund the development of this apple at Minnesota's public land grant university. Cindy Femling is right when she says the Pepin Heights deal was, “signed, sealed and delivered before anyone even knew about it.” The decision by the U of MN to clandestinely license this apple exclusively to the cartel led by Dennis Courtier deserves REAL scrutiny (not just the whitewash delivered by that sham Plant Licensing Task Force). Courtier has stated the aim of such a cartel is to make sure ''nobody gets enough''*.
* The Compact Fruit Tree, Volume 37,
Number 2, 2004, pg55"
Nice, apple cartel leader with R&D paid for by tax dollars. What a sweet business.
Yes & no... the U of M learned that the quality of the Honeycrisp apples couldn't be guaranteed (thus subpar Honeycrisp apples grown in MI for example). They are trying to eliminate that with the SweeTango. (see below)
here's the rest of the news story that I originally copied in the first post (from the Minneapolis StarTribune).
... The university earned more than $8 million from Honeycrisp, mostly from a $1 per tree royalty paid by licensed nurseries before the patent expired in November.
The school will earn a similar royalty on the SweeTango patent. But it also licensed the SweeTango trademark to Byrne and a group of growers who audaciously named their cooperative the Next Big Thing, in the hope that SweeTango will prove as lucrative as Honeycrisp. The co-op will pay the school 4.5 percent of the apple's net wholesale sales in perpetuity.
Bedford said he expects the university to earn as much on the deal as it did from Honeycrisp, with the money supporting more research. But Byrne said he expects the school to do even better.
The arrangement creates a "managed variety," a relatively new concept for U.S. growers but more common abroad. The Jazz apple from New Zealand and Pink Lady from Australia are managed varieties sold in the U.S. Honeycrisp is a managed variety in Europe.
The deal gives Next Big Thing control over who can grow SweeTango and where, and how the apple is marketed and shipped. The co-op has about 72 growers in Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Any Minnesota grower can get licensed through Pepin Heights to grow and sell SweeTango at their farms, farmers markets or to local grocers. Byrne said 87 have signed up. They pay the $1 per tree royalty, but not the 4.5 percent of sales.
Growers outside Minnesota must join the co-op to get SweeTango. The trees likely won't be available to the general public until the patent expires in 2028, Byrne said.
Other major horticultural schools are developing managed varieties, too, including the apple programs at Cornell University and Washington State University. But only the top new varieties are likely to attract enough interest to merit becoming managed, said Bedford, who expects most to be released to everyone as before.
An important advantage of managed varieties is they allow growers to enforce high quality standards, Byrne said. An emerging problem with Honeycrisp, which debuted in 1991, is that anyone can grow it, so it's now planted at some sites that are too warm and the quality can suffer, he said.
And Byrne said quality is the key to getting Americans, particularly children, to eat more apples. Many kids have been turned off by the low-quality apples they often get at school, he said.
"We're fighting for that share of stomach," Byrne said, "and we firmly believe that we have to be able to provide a great eating experience so that when a kid is given a choice between a really good apple and something else snacky, that the apple will be the one they choose."
On the Net:
SweeTango site: http://www.sweetango.com
University of Minnesota apple site: http://www.apples.umn.edu
~ ~ ~
The MNDaily is the U of M student paper, the first quote is taken out of context...
"The University of Minnesota apple breeding program has developed what it believes is the next great apple.
The SweeTango apple made its commercial debut on Monday and should cause quite a stir within the apple market.
For more than 100 years the apple breeding program at the University has been at the forefront of apple research. The University is home to one of only three apple breeding programs in the country. The primary focus of the program is the cross breeding of different apple varieties in hopes of developing a new, better apple.
Apple breeding, a long and tedious process, begins by combining the genes of two different apple species in hopes of acquiring the beneficial properties of both in the same plant. Once the two varieties are crossed, the apples are tested on 20 characteristics until a near perfect apple is found.
The patent on the University’s latest famed apple variety, the Honeycrisp, expired in November.
Apple expert Dave Bedford, head of apple breeding at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s AppleHouse , personally tastes five to six hundred apples a day in search of the next hit variety.
“It’s like the lottery,” Bedford said.
In the SweeTango, it appears the University has indeed found the heir to the Honeycrisp throne.
The SweeTango is the result of a crossbreed of two of the University’s most popular apples. Apple breeders at the University have captured the renowned texture of the Honeycrisp and the full, sweet flavor of the Zestar , producing what it believes will be its most popular apple to date.
With the loss of the Honeycrisp patent, nearly half of the funding for the apple breeding program was gone. University marketers, using lessons learned during the Honeycrisp patenting process, have decided to more strictly control the release of the SweeTango.
On top of collecting royalties on sales of the SweeTango, the exclusive sales rights to the SweeTango have been sold to Pepin Heights Orchard , who in turn is limiting the number of trees allowed to any given orchard. This level of control has angered several local orchards like Afton Apple Orchard .
Cindy Femling, spokesperson for Afton Apple Orchard labeled the SweeTango a “club apple,” calling the Pepin Heights deal “signed, sealed and delivered before anyone even knew about it.”
Femling said the University is doing a good job marketing the apple, but it’s not helping Minnesota apple growers because Pepin Heights is only allowing 1,000 Minneiska trees per orchard and Femling said large orchards would typically have 4,000 to 5,000 of the Minneiska trees.
Jim Rhodes , assistant business development specialist at the University, said the University allowed the Honeycrisp to be grown in less than ideal situations and they’re trying to keep the SweeTango exclusive and controlled in order to keep it as perfect as possible.
“We looked at this particular apple differently than other apples,” Rhodes said.
He said the limited distribution of the trees will help smaller orchards compete with larger orchards.
Dennis Courtier, owner of Pepin Heights Orchard, agrees with Rhodes about controlling the distribution of the apple.
“Better control of the SweeTango will allow us to better control eating quality,” Courtier said.
Courtier said there will be hardly any SweeTango apples this fall because the trees were hit hard by hail storms in the spring.
The level of control and subsequent controversy will make SweeTango a rarity this fall.
“When you hit a diamond, you know it,” Bedford said.
The best opportunities to find the SweeTango this fall will be at boutique supermarkets like Kowalski’s, Lunds and Byerly’s , or at the University AppleHouse where apples are available for purchase in their development phase."