Selecting a New Array of Crisp Apples for Increased Consumer Demand and Grower Profit

2015 Annual Report for FNC15-990

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2015: $21,735.00
Projected End Date: 02/15/2017
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Steven Doud
Doud Orchards

Selecting a New Array of Crisp Apples for Increased Consumer Demand and Grower Profit



Overview: In year one of this two-year project we focused on two aspects of the project. The first aspect was selecting likely Midwest Apple Improvement Association (MAIA) candidates for our markets/clientele based on performance of 2nd test trees in weekly windows through the harvest season. The second aspect was consumer taste testing work and getting the protocols for this work in place.


Report on selecting likely MAIA candidates: This was collaboration among our NC-SARE project and other MAIA members interested in evaluating disease-resistance, environmental adaptability and environmental resilience of 2nd test selections. Factors evaluated were bloom time, disease resistance, time of harvest and non-dropping of apples. Second test trees evaluated were at David Doud’s County Line Orchard, Roann, IN; Whitehouse Fruit Farm, Canfield, OH and Lynd Fruit Farm, Pataskala, OH. More than 50 2nd test selections were evaluated, most in multiple locations. We now know the bloom time of these selections (relative to Golden Delicious), whether each is scab resistant, a tentative harvest window and how long that window is, and whether the fruit has a tendency to drop when mature or remains adhered.


We were also able to do in-field evaluations of fruit quality to determine if the selection would fit into a tart, sweet/tart or sweet niche, and how extended its marketing niche might be (i.e. does the apple lose crispness).


Report on Consumer Taste Testings: We worked on developing routines and protocols for tastings at a diversity of locations: local farmers markets, on-farm retail market and large farmers market. We developed a “taste all 4, pick your favorite” protocol designed for consumer ease and enjoyment and meaningful data acquisition. Apple selections were typically presented in a series of (unidentified) 3 experimental selections and one commercial standard, to be sampled by the slice. Approximately 100 “votes” were collected per series, and then a new series of selections presented to consumers. If time allowed, most-preferred selections were presented against each other to further refine consumer preference. Attempts were made to randomize selection order to eliminate sampling bias. We also collaborated on an iPad evaluation app which requires more focus and time. Each of these will gain us valuable information.


Report on selecting likely MAIA candidates: This is exactly the information we needed to make a season-long grid of new selections, their characteristics, and what percentage of customers might be interested in them (sweet, sweet/tart, tart apple loving customers). We now have that integrated grid in place. We will work to verify and refine it next season, as every year the weather is different, and we will gain additional information on 2nd test selection performance through a second season.


This informational grid will allow us to schedule meaningful taste panel comparisons of current standard varieties compared with new MAIA selections, next season.


Report on consumer taste testings: After developing the protocol, we did more tastings in 2015 than we anticipated. There were three farmers markets tastings, ten on-farm retail market tastings and 1 (rained out) gourmet event. At the West Lafayette farmers market (Sept. 2) we evaluated MAIA very early season selections compared with current early season offerings (Gingergold). In this type of evaluation we did a “taste all 4, pick your favorite.” MAIA selections ranked 1 and 2 with current season offerings ranking 3 and 4.


In the second West Lafayette farmers market tasting (Sept 23) we compared early-mid season MAIA selections to current standards, using the same protocol of “taste all 4, pick your favorite”, as well as at Fishers farmers market (Sept 26).


We did on-farm retail market tastings in late Sept and throughout Oct (Doud Orchards) also using the “taste all 4, pick your favorite” protocol. The “taste all 4, pick your favorite” can easily be done and enjoyed by anyone. In all cases, one or more MAIA selections were rated equal to or better than standard cultivars by consumers.


Our project also collaborated with the larger MAIA project by testing protocol for more in-depth consumer evaluations of most promising selections using iPads and an iPad app. This takes longer and requires more consumer focused attention but will be useful in some situations.




Report on selecting likely MAIA candidates: In 2016 we will repeat and refine the activities of 2015. Additional 2nd test selections will be field evaluated and we will refine and improve our informational grid of ‘what are the choices of MAIA selections for this weekend’ throughout the season.


Report on consumer taste testings: We will conduct more tastings in 2016 focusing especially on quality MAIA candidates as compared with current commercial varieties in each weekend of the season. We expect to utilize a range of venues to source diverse consumer input for the ratings process.



Information about this NC-SARE project was presented during the recent MAIA meeting at Kalahari Conference Center, Sandusky, OH to 80 attendees. The MAIA newsletter ( ) which is available to hundreds of members and available to anyone on-line included our Indiana tasting results along with other taste panel work done by the MAIA. Please refer to this resource for more detailed information.


Next year, results will be shared at the Indiana Horticulture Society meeting, the MAIA meeting, and the MAIA newsletter. Preliminary plans are underway to hold a grower tasting and information day post-harvest 2016, for IN Horticulture Society members.



David Doud

PO Box 70
Newcomerstown, OH 43832
Phil Foster

PO Box 70
Newcomerstown, OH 43832