The Okanogan River Valley near Oroville, Washington, is the northernmost growing area of the US’ largest apple producing state. The area’s microclimate is conducive for club varieties with Honeycrisp parentage, while relationships to larger companies have provided access to those varieties and, in several ways, buoyed the region.
“We think we have, maybe for the first time in our life, a real geographic advantage,” said Allen Godwin, who manages a family farm with his brother, Sam Godwin, in Tonasket. The region’s hills temper afternoon highs, giving nighttime cooling a head start and fewer days of extreme heat. Cherries, pears and apples, especially sun-sensitive Honeycrisp spinoffs, thrive in those conditions.
The temperature dynamics make the area ideal for SugarBee, a blush Honeycrisp offspring gaining commercial momentum, said Harold Schell, variety development director for Chelan Fruit, one of three packing companies who work with growers in the Okanogan River Valley.
SugarBee, a Regal Fruit International product from an open-pollinated Honeycrisp in Minnesota, grows throughout Washington in latitudes both north and south, but southern growers require more overhead cooling or shade cloth, Schell told https://www.goodfruit.com.
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