Apples are reliable fruits grown on the Northern Plains since homesteaders settled the west. As for the variety of apples we see in the produce display today, the kinds of apples just seem to expand. This week’s Plant Exchange Blog focus is on the Honeycrisp and a few related apples.
David Bedford is a member of the apple research and plant breeding team at the University of Minnesota that developed the ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus pumila‘Honeycrisp’) This apple is one of the top ten apples grown commercially in the United States. (Photo Courtesy of David Bedford)
David Bedford led a tour of his university research center grounds during the 2018 Midwest Master Gardener Conference held at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Apple tree seedlings like the ones pictured are trialed outdoors in regional weather conditions. Seedlings that thrive will be the options for future study. Samples of seedlings re studied for desired DNA markers. Of the thousands of apple seedlings trialed, it takes more than two years for the remaining 1% of seedlings to be grown to maturity for fruit taste-testing.
The ‘KinderKrisp’ apple was developed by David MacGregor of Fairhaven Farms in Wright County, Minnesota. Its heritage includes ‘Honeycrisp’ and an edible crabapple cross. It is sold as a backyard apple tree at greenhouses and in catalogues such as Stark Bro’s. (Photo Courtesy of Stark Bro’s)
If you’d like to find out more about what it takes to make a good apple, the link below is to the article recently published by the Yankton Press & Dakotan newspaper:
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There are about eight cultivars of apples in the old orchard. ‘Gravenstein’ is the most abundant. All are rather old cultivars. Except for those that do not do well here. all are superior to modern cultivars. I will be getting another newer cultivar this year, only because it was leftover after bare root season, but I do not expect to be impressed. It is a type of ‘Fuji’ which I am none too keen on anyway. The ‘Fuji’ sorts are popular here because they produce well with less chill than their ancestors need, and much the surrounding regions gets minimal chill. If I still did gardening in the Santa Clara Valley, I would be much more interested in the modern cultivars that do not need so much chill. Cultivars that perform well here, just a few miles into the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Santa Clara Valley, are not so happy with less chill. Lack of sufficient chill is even more of a problem in Southern California. There were only two cultivars that we grow in Beverly Hills, and neither were very good.