Website designed and maintained by Estelle S. Olson./Last Updated Thursday, September 6, 2012.

Our Tasty Story:

Apple breeding in Minnesota.

In 1851, seven years before the territory of Minnesota was established as a state, the University of Minnesota was established as a preparatory school. Due to economic hardship, the University was closed during the Civil War, but was reopened in 1867. 16

In the meanwhile, in 1865, researchers, associated with the University of Minnesota, obtained about 150 apple trees from Russia for the purpose of crossbreeding and experimentation. This acquisition was important, because prior to 1865 and the University of Minnesota's involvement with apple breeding, there were no known apple trees that could survive the cold, harsh Minnesota climate.11 The future of apple breeding in Minnesota, and the enjoyment of apples for the next 150 years was changed forever due to the foresight of those researchers.

In 1908, the University of Minnesota started the Fruit Breeding Farm on 80 acres in Victoria, Minnesota. The goal of the farm was to develop trees hardy enough for the northern climate. The standards of hardiness were defined as: disease resistent, good flavor, good texture, good size, good appearance, good storability, and productive enough to produce fruit in the short growing season of Minnesota that lasts from May until September. The intended hardiness zones for the apple breeding research was zones 3 and 4; in which winter temperatures can reach between -20 and -40 Fahrenheit. 13 6

By 1967, the 80 acre farm had grown to 230 acres and included research other than apple breeding. It was in that same year that the Fruit Breeding Farm's name was changed to the Horticultural Research Center. Then, in 1985, the Research Center was merged with the Minnesota Landscape Arboreteum. 13

Since its inception, in 1908, the researchers and breeders at the University of Minnesota have developed over 100 different successful varieties of fruit . Thus, about 80% of the apples grown in Minnesota are varieties that have been developed at the University of Minnesota.7 We are proud to be one of those apple growers.


apple varieties poster




Honeycrisp apples were developed by the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in 1991. 14 The apples are suitable for growing in zones 3-8 and can be stored for up to 7 months. 14 Previously, the apples' pollen parents were assumed to be the Honeygold and the Macoun, but DNA testing has now excluded both of these apples. Instead, one of the pollen parents has been determined to be the Keepsake with the other parent still not determined. 10



The Regent apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in 1964. 5 It's the perfect balance of sweet and tart! The apple is suitable for growing in zone 3. It ripens in early October. The Regent was named after the U of M's Board of Regents. 5 The apples' pollen parents were originally thought to be the Delicious and the Daniels Red Duchess, but, according to researchers at Nagoya University in Japan, neither of those apples are the parents. As yet, the parentage of this apple is still unknown. 10




The Fireside apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in 1943. 12 The apples is best grown in southern and western Minnesota where the winters are slightly less harsh. 6 The Fireside apple has a low acidity. It's suitable for growing in zone 4; and it ripens in early to mid October. The Fireside produces more abundantly if Haralson apples are propogated nearby. 6 The apples' pollen parents are the McIntosh and the Longfield, as well, the Fireside is the pollen parent of the SnowSweet apple and the Connell Red apple. 9 7 6




The Haralson apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in 1922. 5 The apple is tart, firm, crisp, and suitable for fresh eating, baking, and cooking. It ripens in late September through October and was chosen by the researchers due to it's ability to withstand the long, cold winters and the dry, hot summers. 6 9 5 The apple can be stored until March or for about six months. The Haralson is named after Charles Haralson, whom was the superintendent of the U of M Breeding Farm. 9 The apples' pollen parents was originally thought to be the Malinda and the Ben Davis, but recent DNA testing has revealed the the pollen parents are the Malinda and the Wealthy. The Haralson is one of the pollen parents of both the Honeygold and the Honeycrisp.10



Paula Red

The Paula Red was discovered in the 1960's by Lewis Arends on his property in Kent County, Michigan. Lewis named the apple for his wife Paula Arends. The apple is a natural mutation of the McIntosh. The Paula Red ripens in late August, and at the time of its discovery in the 60's no other apple variety in the northern half of the US was known to have ripened that early in the apple season. It is for this reason that Paula Reds became so well propagated. 2




The Honeygold apple was developed at the University of Minnesota's Agricultural Experiment Station in 1969. 5 It's a crisp, sweet, juicy apple excellent for fresh eating and baking. The apples' pollen parents are Golden Delicious and Haralson. The Honeygold ripens in early October. 15



Golden Russet

The Golden Russet was developed in 1845 in New York state. 2 While the apples' origins are unclear, some historical botanists think it is possible that the Golden Russet is the result of an English russet variety grown by botanist Robert Hogg. However, Mr. Hogg's journals do not mention his russet variety being transported to the United States.8 The Golden Russet is a homely apple; despite this fact its sweet flavor makes it a favorite among apple consumers mainly due to the sweet cider it produces. 2



1.Cabe, Paul R., Andrew Baumgarten, Kyle Onan, James J. Luby, and David S. Bedford. “Using Microsatellite Analysis to Verify Breeding Records: A Study of `Honeycrisp’ and Other Cold-hardy Apple Cultivars.” HortScience 40, no. 1 (February 1, 2005): 15–17.

2.Elzebroek, A. T. G., and K. Wind. Guide to Cultivated Plants. CABI, 2008.

3.Jack Brown Produce. “Variety Chart | Jack Brown Produce”, 2012.

4.James Burghardt. “Apple Varieties in Minnesota.” GardenGuides, n.d.

5.M H Meyer. “150 Years of Hardy Plants - Apples.” 150 Years of Hardy Plants - Apples, 2000.

6.D. M. Cameron. “About Haralson Apple Trees | Garden Guides”, n.d.

7.Mark Cassutt. “Patent for U of M’s Newest Apple Named After Dave Wildung?: UMNews?: University of Minnesota”, November 17, 2005.

8.Orange Pippin. “Apple - Golden Russet - Tasting Notes, Where to Buy Fruit and Trees”, January 2, 2011.

9.Pahl’s Market. “Haralson Apple | Pahl’s Market”, 2012.

10.S. Matsumoto, K. Okada, A. Kojima, K. shiratake, and K. Abe. “S-RNase Genotypes of Apple (Malus Domestica Borkh.) Including New Cultivars, Lineages, and Triploid Progenies.” The Journal of Horticulural Science and Biotechnology (n.d.).

11.Stewart Corn, and Jim Luby. “University of Minnesota Fruit-Breeding Program - MN150”, n.d.

12.Thompson Greenery Floral and Greenhouse. “Thompson Greenery Floral and Greenhouse”, n.d.

13.University of Minnesota Landscape Arboreteum. “Horticultural Research Center”, November 28, 2007.

14.Woodstock Nursery. “Fruit Trees for Sale”, n.d.

15. Jung Seeds. “Honeygold Apple (Dwarf) | Dwarf Apples | Apples | Fruits | Jung Garden and Flower Seed Company”, n.d.

16.University of Minnesota. “History”, July 18, 2011.



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