Minnesota's Distinctive Apples
Minnesota orchards offer the most distinctive assortment of apple varieties in the country. Some of the varieties you will find in Minnesota that are rare or absent in the rest of the country: Oriole, Mantet, Keepsake, Fireside, Honeycrisp, Wealthy, Beacon, Prarie Spy, Sweet Sixteen, Honeygold, Haralson, Zesta, Chestnut, Centennial, Red Baron, and Malinda. Part of the reason for this is the extensive program of research and development carried on for over 90 years at the horticultural research center of the University of Minnesota. Fruit varieties developed at the research center now represent two thirds of the state's fruit production. The program started in the 1880s. Peter Gideon from Excelsior, who discovered the Wealthy apple, is the first of Minnesota's illustrious apple breeders. His success with Wealthy was used as an example by the state's horticultural society to show the legislature what the results could be from a well-funded research and breeding program. The result has been dozens and dozens of successful varieties suited to the state's harsh climate.
Haralson is the number one apple in the state, representing 50% of production. Of all the Minnesota varieties, Honeycrisp is generating the most enthusiasm, both in the states and abroad. It is probably the most talked about variety in the country right now. The Honeycrisp, introduced in 1991, is the product of a 1960 cross of Macoun and Honeygold by the University of Minnesota research team. While Honeycrisp is an especially good "keeper" in storage, demand is much greater than supply, making it hard to find.
Fireside is an long time favorite, introduced in 1943. Sometimes called the "Minnesota Delicious" it has an excellent sweet flavor and ripens mid-season. Keepsake is a strongly aromatic apple that ripens in mid-October. It is one of those varieties that seem to get better in storage, with flavor peaking as late as January.
Special thanks to:
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Marketing Services Division
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