Gala is a clonally propagated apple with a mild and sweet flavour. Gala apples are small and are usually red with a portion being greenish or yellow-green, vertically striped. Gala apples are fairly resistant to bruising and are sweet, grainy, with a mild flavour and a thinner skin than most apples. Quality indices include firmness, crispness, and sweetness.
The first Gala apple tree was one of many seedlings resulting from a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Kidd’s Orange Red planted in New Zealand in the 1930s by orchardist J.H. Kidd. Donald W. McKenzie, an employee of Stark Bros Nursery, obtained a US plant patent for the cultivar on October 15, 1974. The variety is also an increasingly popular option for UK top fruit farmers. It is a relatively new introduction to the UK, first planted in commercial volumes during the 1980s. The variety now represents about 20% of the total volume of the commercial production of eating apples grown in the UK, often replacing Cox’s Orange Pippin.
Many sports of Gala have been selected, mostly for increased red colour, including the popular Royal Gala. The original cultivar produced fruit with orange stripes and a partial orange blush over a yellow background. Since then, several un-patented sports have been recognized. Additionally, more than twenty sports have received US plant patents.
Gala apples are grown from May through September in the northern hemisphere, but, like most apples, are available almost all year through the use of cold storage and controlled atmosphere storage. The UK season begins in late summer (August) with picking through to October. Storage makes the UK fruit available nearly year round as with fruit from other origins.
Royal Gala is a cultigen made from a sport of the Gala apple in the 1970s. It is a pink-red dessert apple and is therefore usually eaten fresh.
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