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Cover Story

Auvil takes Aurora to

uvil ta new heights

Washington State company has been determined tomake a big success of challenging B.C.-bred apple variety.

By Judie Steeves T

hey call pinot noir the heartbreak grape because producing the perfect wine from

it is so difficult.

Well, Aurora Golden Gala could be the heartbreak apple for similar reasons.

However, since 2006, the Auvil Fruit Company Ltd. in Orondo, WA has


been growing, packing and selling Auroras, and in order to get the premium price needed, they’ve made many changes to how they grow and handle it.

A Canadian apple bred at the Pacific Agri-food Research Centre in Summerland, the variety was known as 8S-69-23 until a national naming contest in 2003 came up with Aurora, as in the colourful, undulating northern lights, Aurora Borealis. Auvil’s persistence with the variety is because they all agreed it was the best eating apple they’d ever tried, explained president Mike Claphan. He was talking to a group of Okanagan Valley orchardists, most of whom grow this difficult new variety, and who arrived by bus for a tour of the Auvil orchards and plant in

January, while their trees slumbered under a duvet of snow further north. These Okanagan orchardists are committed to growing top-quality fruit that tastes good, even if it’s a challenge to grow, pick, pack and prepare for market.

Why? Because once consumers taste it, they’re hooked.

Claphan explains that founder Grady Auvil, who started the company in 1928, spent his life looking for a new variety that met his expectations of a good eating, excellent quality apple. The search continued long after his death, until they found the Aurora. Auvil’s Walt Hough explains it simply: “Our objective is to deliver fruit that eats good.”

With Aurora, though, he says, “We analyzed and analyzed and we still


Okanagan Valley orchardists observe a Fuji run during a tour of the Auvil Fruit Company operation in Orondo, WA. British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Spring 2013


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