Saturday, November 30, 2013

Jazz apples and artificial selection

JAZZ wasn’t developed by the magical apple fairy, so where did it come from? When ridiculously smart researchers joined apple growers in New Zealand to begin developing JAZZ, they all wanted it to have intense texture and flavor while retaining its eating quality right through its selling season. It was a labor of love that saw multiple cross pollinations of Braeburn and Royal Gala in New Zealand, producing 8,500 seedlings of which only one would be chosen for greatness. A bunch of seriously dedicated —and hopefully very hungry— researchers tasted over 5,000 seedlings before selecting the variety now known to consumers as JAZZ.

For the next decade, researchers subjected JAZZ to a series of Jedi-like tests, evaluating the apple's suitability for growing, including yields and performance in different seasons, locations and conditions. Next they monitored how well the fruit traveled and stored. Finally, in 2001, JAZZ made its grand entrance onto the international stage. A few years later, half a million trees were planted and the first significant commercial volumes were exported from New Zealand. The new kid on the produce block began tantalizing the taste buds of apple lovers around the globe, and over the last five years, enough JAZZ trees have been planted in New Zealand and elsewhere around the world to produce more than 500 million apples. Holy JAZZ apples, Batman!

Today, JAZZ is grown in New Zealand, Chile, France and Washington, and is available year-round — that means 365 days of all JAZZ, all the time. Fruit from New Zealand can be found in North America May through October, and from Washington October through May.

Another example of artificial selection: The ancestor of the Chihuahua is the wolf.

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