Over the years the University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Station in Chanhassen, MN has quietly developed & released numerous fruit selections for northern climates. While some of these selections have remained quite popular in the northerly parts of the U.S., it is one of their latest introductions that has captured the attention of the fruit industry not only in America but also in other fruit growing regions of the world. Honeycrisp, their somewhat recent release has created an uproar in the apple industry!
Honeycrisp apple is everything one could want for a perfect apple. Sweet, crispy, large, juicy & stores exceptionally well. The only complaint many growers have is that they can’t seem to grow enough to keep up with demand! Not only do the apples sell out fast at orchards, even the nurseries selling Honeycrisp trees have a hard time keeping enough in stock!
I first experienced Honeycrisp before it had an official name. Back around 1987(?) a research member from the University of Minnesota brought a bag of apples to the nursery where I was working at (in Minnesota ) so we could taste a new apple soon to be released. This gentleman explained that it was not yet named but for research purposes was called Minnesota #1711. It was January & the apples had been stored in a regular refrigerator yet were extremely crisp! So crisp it seemed like they had just been picked the day before! We were then told that this amazing apple would stay crisp until April!
Honeycrisp apple was officially released in 1991. Fruit size is usually large with a striped (mottled) skin color. The fruit ripens early October. It is excellent for fresh use & also for cooking. Like all apples, Honeycrisp needs to be pollinated by another apple variety (or crabapple) to set fruit. If you have a small city lot & do not have room for a second apple variety then see if you have a crabapple nearby. Remember, a Honeycrisp apple tree will only produce Honeycrisp fruit! If pollinated by a crabapple, the seeds will be a hybrid of the two parents but the fruit will always be Honeycrisp!
For 2006 Johnson’s Nursery will have Honeycrisp apple trees in containers. As usual, supply on this variety is quite limited. Remember, you can call ahead & pre-order this wonderful apple tree prior to the 2006 growing season to assure availability!
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.