ROGERS, Ohio – There’s only one orchard in the world that can lay claim to five patents. And for residents of northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, that orchard is right next door.
Peace Valley Orchards in Columbiana County has patents on three apple trees and two apples, which is an unusual accomplishment because orchards typically have just one or two patents, if they have any at all.
“I guess if we apply, we could probably make the Guinness Book of World Records,” said Dan Simmons Jr., who oversees the orchard’s general business.
Discovery. Getting a patent on a new apple or tree is more about discovery than invention. Fruit growers often see naturally-occurring mutations in their orchard, some of which are undesirable and some of which are worth a second look.
Each of Peace Valley’s patents started out when family members discovered something a little out of the ordinary.
Peace Valley’s most recent patent was on an apple called DanDee Red. An early Macintosh-type apple, it’s the orchard’s first original variety. DanDee Reds are a large, purple-red fruit and, unlike most early fruit, these apples are hard and crisp.
What’s that? DanDee Reds were discovered by Simmons and his father in 1997. A few apples came in on a bin that was at 30 percent color. The DanDee Reds were at 100 percent color and the father and son knew this wasn’t something to ignore.
Getting a patent takes several years, as growers must be able to prove they can reproduce the newly discovered product. The DanDee Red was patented in July 2006.
Peace Valley Orchards also patented the Buckeye Gala, which is much redder than the original Gala. Discovered in 1989 and patented in 1997, Dan said there’s been a big demand for this apple.
“It’s probably the most widely planted Gala in the world now,” he said.
First patent. The orchard’s first patent came in 1974 with the discovery of an apple tree called Lawspur Rome. Instead of bearing fruit only at the end of its limbs like most apple trees, this tree grew apples all along its branches, all the way back to the trunk. For growers, this discovery meant a way to get more apples off less trees.
Peace Valley also claims patents to the Starkspur Rome tree and Golden Glory Golden Delicious tree.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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