The first apple to be commercially released from the Hot Climate Programme has received rave reviews from growers in Italy, France and the UK, after a series of evaluations in 2020.

A group of selected growers and marketers reported the HOT84A1 variety is growing well, and features an attractive, rich red colour with excellent texture and a sweet taste. Growers have also discovered that the apple performs equally as well in temperate climates, as it does in hot climates.

Gary Wellwood, variety development manager of T&G Global, said it was welcome news for the programme designed to help growers handle the effects of climate change.

“This is an exciting find and proves that this apple is well suited to many different geographies” said Wellwood.

“It opens up further opportunities for growers in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and provides an opportunity for year-round supply.”

Wellwood said in the Northern Hemisphere, the variety blooms in mid-April with harvest timing in late-September to early-October. This places HOT84A1 in market approximately two weeks earlier than Fuji, meaning that consumers get to experience this variety on supermarket shelves for longer.

He said although Covid-19 had restricted the ability to hold fruit evaluation sessions this season, there was still been strong interest.

“Our European representative is organising tasting events in Spain, Italy, France and other locations. If we can’t get the people to the fruit, we will organise to get the fruit to the people!” Wellwood said.

Jeremy Linsell, technical development manager of Worldwide Fruit UK, said HOT84A1 had performed well in testing in the United Kingdom. He said UK-grown fruit was tested by leading retailers and consumers in the UK with the sweet apple being highly rated and given very positive feedback.

In its second year as strategic commercialisation partner for the Hot Climate Programme, T&G Global has made good progress with the first variety under licence.

HOT84A1 is being planted in commercial volumes in Catalonia, Spain. Fruit Futur, partners in the Hot Climate Programme, has committed to a planting programme over the next six years in an effort to provide consumers with fruit of great colour and exceptional flavour and texture.

Spanish growers were eager to mitigate the effects of hot summer temperatures on the quality of their apple crop and have jumped at the chance to access this variety.

Interest in the variety beyond Spain has been strong. HOT84A1 trees are being circulated globally, and in 2021 T&G Global, together with its material services provider, Dalival, will begin planting further test blocks throughout Europe.

Planting of test trees for evaluation in Australia, the US and South Africa are also expected within a few years.