After McIntosh, Lobo and Cortland, perhaps you have heard of Rosinette and Passionata, two new varieties of apples entirely developed in Quebec. But how were they created?
These new varieties, which are found in a dozen orchards in Quebec, are highly sought after. “I have a six-page list of clients to call when the Passionata is released,” says Claire Brazeau, co-owner of Verger de la Montagne in Mont-Saint-Grégoire, in Montérégie.
Introducing a new variety requires a meticulous process that can span decades. “I learned over time that you shouldn’t be afraid to be patient,” says Roland Joannin, hybridizer and creator of Rosinette and Passionata.
In order to get a new strain, experts must first create a hybrid using two different strains. “We will come and collect the pollen from the male parent and we will deposit it with a brush on the pistil, the female reproductive organ of the flower, explains Mr. Joannin. In the fall, if all goes well, we will get an apple. Its seeds will be considered as the offspring. ”
New varieties sought
Patented in 2014, the Rosinette is rather sweet, with a fruity and floral flavor when it is ripe and a touch of acid to support it all. “She makes extraordinary compote!” », Adds Mme Brazeau. She explains that, this year, their entire production of Rosinette sold out in less than two weeks.
Patented the following year, the Passionata, which has aromas of muscat and passion fruit, matures around mid-October. It is also in great demand in orchards. “It’s a big yellow apple that has a lot of antioxidants,” says Mme Brazeau. It can be used for anything: to make pies, in compote, anything! ”
Both of these varieties should hit the grocery store shortly. To get on the shelves, the variety must be approved by Health Canada. “For them to be patented, they must really stand out from everything that already exists on the market,” explains Claire Brazeau. The taste, color, texture and architecture of the tree will be characteristics taken into account.
The key to success: patience
However, these new varieties are not created by scissoring. “I thought I would get results quickly, but I had a little too ambitious goals,” says Roland Joannin. Between the time the seeds are sown and the time the first apples are obtained, it can take between 7 and 10 years, depending on the crosses. “Then there are the observations, since what you taste today, you have to taste it tomorrow and taste it the following year, in order to ensure that the taste remains constant,” explains Joannin. It can therefore take more than twenty years before a variety is registered.
The process is far from foolproof, however. “Out of 8,000 hybrids that I have tested during my career, there are only two varieties that are approved by Health Canada. All the others ended up in the wood stove, ”illustrates the hybridizer. Roland Joannin then tells us the story of Eureka, a hybrid created in 2004. Although the taste of apples was excellent at the start, it turned out that once cultivated and grafted to other trees, the apple grew. split when ripe and tasted very poor. It is common in the creation of hybrids that certain traits are not well fixed genetically, resulting in such modifications.
According to Roland Joannin, apple growers often offer apples picked a little too early, so the aromas develop much less than when they are picked right. “Don’t hesitate to ask the orchard if the apples are at their peak of quality. These are questions you have to ask, because they won’t necessarily tell you, ”he explains. The hybridizer also reminds us that we must not forget to trust our personal taste.
After having worked for years to find tasty varieties adapted to the climatic conditions of Quebec, Mr. Joannin can now harvest and share with us the fruits of his labor.