A Cosmic Legacy

Posted in Blog, Apples on Friday, September 01, 2023

A Cosmic Legacy

In the heart of Washington state’s apple country, McDougall and Sons Legacy Orchards stand as a testament to the rich tradition of apple cultivation that has shaped the region’s agricultural landscape for generations. Among the many apple varieties that thrive on this land, one has captured consumers’ hearts and taste buds like no other – the Cosmic Crisp.

Five years ago, the team at Washington Grown had the privilege of visiting Legacy Orchards when the first Cosmic Crisp apple trees were planted. Securing these coveted trees at that time was challenging, as the farm received 17 acres worth of trees through a lottery process due to the state’s limited supply. The Cosmic Crisp, a true Washington state variety, was bred at the prestigious Washington State University, combining the best traits of the Enterprise and Honeycrisp varieties.

Since that initial planting, the Cosmic Crisp apple has seen meteoric popularity, with nearly 17 million trees planted in the past four years alone. The orchardists at Legacy have watched these trees mature. As the 2023 harvest season approaches in October, the anticipation is palpable.

Scott McDougall of McDougall and Sons, whose family has tended to these orchards for generations, is excited about the future of Cosmic Crisp apples. “There’s been a lot of hype on Cosmic,” he says. One of the reasons for this excitement is the apple’s impressive hardiness and exceptional storage capabilities. The Cosmic Crisp is resilient and boasts a large size, a satisfying crunch, and a stunning bright red color, making it visually appealing to consumers.

But what truly sets the Cosmic Crisp apart is its dessert-quality taste, which has the potential to improve over time. McDougall shares his hopes for the future.

“We are just hoping that once these trees have settled down, the nitrogen’s pulled off, that some of the acids are going to convert to sugars, and that the dessert quality is just going to keep getting better and better.”

Growing Cosmic Crisp apples, however, is no simple task. It requires a combination of science, dedication, passion, and immense patience. Orchards like Legacy continually learn and adapt their practices to produce the finest fruit possible.

“We’re challenged to do the best we can with the right type of pruning and try to achieve maximum bins per acre but of quality fruit for the customer,” says McDougall.

Despite the challenges, McDougall finds immense joy in cultivating Cosmic Crisp apples. He explains, “There isn’t any one year that is the same, particularly with Mother Nature, and we have to be able to adapt. The thing that’s exciting is that things are constantly changing.”

Indeed, the growth of Cosmic Crisp apples at Legacy Orchards is a testament to agriculture’s dynamic nature and farmers’ willingness to embrace change.

As the once-tiny seedlings have matured into well-established adult trees, they proudly display their gorgeous pink blossoms, hinting at the delicious bounty that will soon be ready for harvest. The legacy of Cosmic Crisp at McDougall and Sons Legacy Orchards is a shining example of the innovation and dedication that characterizes Washington state’s apple industry.

In the years to come, as Cosmic Crisp apples continue to delight consumers with their exceptional taste and quality, the orchardists at Legacy and beyond will remain steadfast in their commitment to producing apples that represent the best of Washington state.

As we look forward to the upcoming harvest season, it is clear that the Cosmic Crisp is not just a fruit, but a symbol of the legacy and resilience of the McDougall and Sons Legacy Orchards and the wider Washington apple community.

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