Licenses for new HyRed cranberry now available

August 11, 2004

Licenses to produce and sell fruit from UW–Madison’s HyRed cranberry – the first publicly developed cranberry variety in more than three decades – are now being offered through the university’s patent and licensing organization.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), a private, nonprofit organization that manages the intellectual property of UW–Madison, signed the first commercial HyRed agreement with a Wisconsin cranberry grower earlier this month. The new contract gives growers the right to expand their HyRed plantings to full-sized, three- to five-acre commercial beds; previously, those who wanted to grow and evaluate the cranberry were restricted to test plots of one-quarter-acre in size or less.

Although the cranberry has been tested in trial beds in more than 30 marshes around North America, including Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and British Columbia, it has yet to be grown on a commercial scale.

A license from WARF to produce and sell HyRed fruit requires growers to maintain the genetic integrity of the patented plant and keep it from hybridizing with other cultivated varieties. Growers must also agree to pay a one-time, upfront license fee and an annual royalty once they begin selling HyRed’s fruit. All licensing proceeds from the sale of the fruit return to UW–Madison to support scientific research and other programs.

Members of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association – which supported the research leading to HyRed’s development and contributed extensively to its testing – currently pay a license fee of $1,200 and a royalty of $60 per acre, while non-members pay $1,800 upfront and a $90 per-acre royalty.

But these amounts may well increase should HyRed prove successful, says Brad Ricker, who manages agricultural licensing for WARF.

“Our program is designed to reward growers who take licenses to new varieties early on,” he says. “Essentially we’re rewarding them for the somewhat greater risk they’re taking in planting HyRed now, as opposed to waiting until it has a proven commercial track record.”

HyRed is the first variety released from the UW–Madison cranberry breeding program launched in the early 1990s by horticulture professor Brent McCown and plant breeder Eric Zeldin. Bred and tested for more than 10 years by the pair of scientists and local cranberry growers, HyRed’s berries turn red a full two weeks sooner and contain up to three times the pigment of those of a leading cranberry hybrid called Stevens.

These characteristics could potentially allow growers to harvest HyRed berries earlier in the season – avoiding crop damage caused by ice and snow, especially in the Midwest – as well as command a premium price for the deep-red fruit.

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Contact for news media: Madeline Fisher (608) 265-9861, mmfisher@warf.org. To learn more about WARF’s HyRed cranberry licensing program, contact Brad Ricker at (608) 262-3120, brad@warf.org, or Emily Bauer at (608) 262-8638, emily@warf.org.