New apple variety debuts at State Fair

First Kiss apple
The First Kiss apple developed at the University of Minnesota debuted this year at the State Fair.
Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota, David L. Hansen

A new apple variety debuted at this year's Minnesota State Fair.

The First Kiss apple was developed at the University of Minnesota. It's based off a Honeycrisp apple but ripens up to a month earlier, about Aug. 20 — right around fair time.

JP Jacobson from Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake — one of the test sites for the university's new apple varieties — said the new apple has been very popular in the fair's first few days.

"Minnesota customers have typically been more tart apple eaters. The university has come up with some really classic tart apples throughout the years — Wealthy and Haralson being No. 1. And I think this apple has that classic heirloom tartness to it, but it also has the same type of dynamic crunch that a Honeycrisp has," he said.

In a news release, the university said researchers started working on the First Kiss variety in the late 1990s, with a goal of producing a Honeycrisp-like apple that would be ready to harvest by Labor Day.

Supplies of the First Kiss apple are limited in its debut season; Jacobson said the trees producing apples this year are only about 3 years old, so they're not producing at full capacity. But while they last, the apples are being sold in the fair's Agriculture Horticulture Building.

"This apple, I think, has the potential to be the crown jewel of Minnesota apples for years to come," Jacobson said.

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