Ministry of Agriculture

Aurora Golden Gala™ (8S6923) Apple

Photos courtesy Sandy Emmond, PICO  

Aurora Golden Gala™ apple is a mid-season, yellow dessert apple with exceptional texture and keeping quality. The name was chosen in a nationwide internet-based "Name The Apple" contest sponsored by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The fruit flesh is extremely crisp and juicy, firm and sweet. The flavour is light, fresh, and pleasant, with honey and tropical notes. The shelf life of fruit after storage is excellent.

The tree is called '8S6923'. It is highly precocious and productive. The growth habit of '8S6923' is spreading with ample spur development and moderate vigor. It is not subject to alternate bearing or pre-harvest drop. '8S6923' resulted from a cross between 'Splendour' and 'Gala' made at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre (PARC), Summerland, BC.

Fruit Description

  • Shape: Globose to globose conical.
  • Size: Medium, smaller than 'Golden Delicious' and similar to 'Royal Gala'.
  • Color: The skin is yellow. In areas with cold nights before harvest, sometimes having ≤10% pinkish or orange blush. Flesh color cream to pale yellow.
  • Skin: Tender, thin to medium thickness; glossy and smooth at harvest, becoming duller and slightly waxy in long term air storage at 1°C, or if picked overmature.
  • Texture: Very crisp and breaking, very juicy, medium-grained, maintains breaking texture and juiciness in storage. Cut flesh browns fairly quickly.
  • Firmness at harvest: Over six years, ranged from 6.6 to 7.6 kg.
  • Soluble solids: At harvest, 13.0 to 15.1%. After 6 to 8 weeks of air storage, 14.2 to 16.4%.
  • Acidity at harvest: 0.58 to 0.75 mg/100 mL, as malic acid.
  • Flavour: Sweet, mild, fresh, delicate, with honey and tropical notes.
  • Maturity season: In Summerland, usually harvested in the first few days of October, or about 20-25 days after 'Gala'.
  • Keeping quality: Blind hedonic sensory evaluations were run between 55 and 76 days after harvest, over 6 harvest years against commercial cultivars. In these tests, the appearance, texture and flavour of Aurora Golden Gala™ were liked as much or more than 'Fuji', 'Golden Delicious' and 'McIntosh'. The appearance was liked less than 'Royal Gala'. Aurora Golden Gala™ retains texture and excellent eating quality for at least 5 months at 1°C. Shelf life was tested by removing fruit from air storage 117 to 167 days after harvest, leaving it at 20°C for one week, measuring firmness, and then subjecting the fruit to hedonic sensory panels. Over 6 years of such tests, the appearance, texture and flavour of Aurora Golden Gala™ were liked as well as or more than 'Fuji', 'Royal Gala', 'Braeburn' and 'Golden Delicious'.
  • Use: Dessert apple, appropriate for medium to long term storage. Also excellent in salads, and can be used for baking.

Tree Characteristics

  • Vigor: Moderate, similar to 'Gala' or 'Golden Delicious'.
  • Shape: Spreading with abundant spurs, well suited to high-density planting.
  • Bearing habit: Bears chiefly on spurs and short shoots, but will also bear on one-year-old wood. Very little bare wood. Heavy fruit set is typical, both in terms of number of fruits per cluster and number of clusters. Pre-harvest fruit drop is negligible (< 1%). Very precocious and not subject to alternate bearing.
  • Productivity: Highly productive and will overbear without proper thinning. Yield is greater than 'Golden Delicious' or 'McIntosh' and similar to 'Royal Gala' in research plots of trees propagated on a variety of rootstocks.
  • Thinning: Requires prompt, heavy thinning to prevent overbearing and achieve proper fruit size and flavour. Well-thinned trees are fairly even in fruit maturity; on overcropped trees the fruit ripen unevenly. Thin to single king fruits 15-20 cm apart.
  • Hardiness: Trees have survived winter temperatures as low as -20°C at Summerland. Early winter hardiness of one-year old twigs was assessed in controlled freeze tests run over two different years. '8S6923' was similar to 'Golden Delicious' in winter hardiness.

Cultural notes

'8S6923' sets annual heavy crops and must be thinned properly for satisfactory fruit size and taste. If trees are over cropped, the fruit are hard to pick and therefore more likely to be finger-bruised at harvest. Trees are very precocious and will set fruit in the nursery if allowed to do so. On older trees, spur renewal pruning is recommended. Occasionally, adjacent fruitlets will fuse together. These can be seen at thinning time and should be removed. '8S6923' (Aurora Golden Gala™) is not recommended for areas that cannot attain adequate fruit size on 'Gala', nor for areas where 'Gala' or 'Golden Delicious' suffer winter injury.

Some stem end russet may occur on fruit from the first crop or fruit on one-year-old wood. Older trees have had clean fruit. The response in humid regions or those with cold, wet springs has not been established.

The fruit can be harvested in one or two picks if thinned properly. Research to determine the best harvest index is in progress. When harvested at starch 4 to 6 on the Blanpied and Silsby (1992) generic starch chart, the fruit has been stored successfully for up to 7 months in air. No controlled-atmosphere storage research has been done. If picked fully to overmature (iodine staining completely absent), the fruit may develop stem end splits on the tree or in storage, and the skin may become greasy. Small spots of superficial scald may appear on some apples if they are highly exposed to the cooling coils in air storage. This can be prevented by covering the fruit with a box of a non-susceptible variety such as 'Gala'; preliminary observations at PARC show that covering the boxes of fruit with tarpaulins will also prevent the disorder. Fruit that receive no calcium sprays during the growing season may develop internal browning in long term air storage (8 months or longer), similar to 'Fuji'. The incidence is higher on very large fruits.

Availability

'8S6923' is protected under Canadian Plant Breeders' Rights legislation (PBR Certificate # 1652), and is being protected in the European Community and the United States. Commercialization rights have been granted to the okanagan Plant Improvement Company (PICO, Box 6000, Summerland, BC, Canada, V0H 1Z0). Information on the availability of trees or propagation wood, and inquiries regarding nursery licensing or acquisition of trees outside of Canada should be addressed to PICO. Trademark protection is being sought for the name AURORA GOLDEN GALA.


Fig. 1. Intensity of selected attributes (each rated on a 0 to 9 scale) of Aurora Golden Gala™ fruit relative to commercial cultivars. Twelve trained judges drawn from a larger pool rated the fruit in each panel. The values are weighted means. The number of panels and years that the cultivar was tested appears in parentheses. Abbreviations: R.Gala = 'Royal Gala', Golden Del. = 'Golden Delicious'.

Information provided by:
Cheryl R. Hampson, Ph.D. Research Scientist
Apple Breeding and Pomology
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada/Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada