Apple Varieties Grown in Oregon
Oregon produces over 21 apple varieties, with Fuji and Gala leading the state’s production. The state's rainfall and mild climate make it a prime location for apple orchards. The most orchards can be found in Oregon’s northwestern region near and around Portland. In 2009, Oregon produced an estimated 110 million pounds of apples.
These medium-sized, crisp apples with flat tops and bottoms can have some light green or yellow peeking through the red flush of its peel. The Honeycrisp is a relative newcomer; it has only been on the commercial market for the past 20 years. As with many of the apples that are now common at the farmer’s market or in grocery stores, Honeycrisps are decidedly modern, the product of crossing two different varieties to breed new flavor and color combinations. Honeycrisps were developed by the University of Minnesota’s Agricultural Experiment Station, which has been breeding apples since the 1920s to create ones that do better in colder winter months. Juicy and refreshing, Honeycrisps make for good ready-to-eat apples, particularly after they have been refrigerated. Refrigeration brings out their flavor. After being chilled, they can be good for dessert pies, as well. They can start to ripen in September and can last until April when in cold storage. According to the last Oregon Fruit Tree Inventory Survey (OFTIS) in 2006, Honeycrisp trees are the most popular new apple trees in the state. In the 2004-2005 season, more Honeycrisp trees were planted than any other kind.
Aromatic, firm and round, these large-sized apples sport peels that are speckled pink overtop pale yellow and green. As the name might suggest, Fuji apples are a Japanese creation; but they were bred from American parents, the Red Delicious and the Ralls Janet, a lesser-known antique variety that gives the Fuji its pink flush. Fuji apples can bloom late in the season, from October to December. Because they are sweet and very juicy, they have become increasingly popular in American market since being introduced in the 1980s. In Oregon, Fujis are used in Riesling wines. Fujis need little adornment to eat. Even applesauce made from Fujis needs little sugar. They also benefit from refrigeration, which brings out its flavor. According to the OFTIS, there are more Fuji trees planted in Oregon than any other kind.
Fragrant and firm, these medium-sized apples can be a range of colors, from pale yellowish gold to a deep red, sometimes with pink or reddish orange stripes, depending upon when they were picked. Gala apples were developed in New Zealand in the 1930s. They are a cross between a Kidd’s Orange Red and a Golden Delicious. Galas are early bloomers and can be available as early as July. Galas can be sweet but do not have as distinctive a flavor as Fujis or Honeycrisps. Gala make great cooking or desert apples. They store well when refrigerated. According to the OFTIS, there are slightly less Gala trees in Oregon than there are Fujis.