The University of Minnesota has a program to develop cold-hardy specimens of many plants, and apples are no exception. Potential apple varieties are first test-grown at a research center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Scientists also work with Minnesota farmers to develop farming practices that will increase their apple tree's rate of winter survival and control apple pests without the use of insecticides.
Snowsweet apples produce their crop late into the season.The trees bloom in mid-summer, and can pollinate all other varieties of apples which produce early in the season. The trees are cold-hardy, and in fact grow best in colder climates. These apples are known for their rich sweet flavor. They are red in color with bright white flesh. The advantage to Snowsweet apples is that once they are cut, they take much longer than other varieties of apples to turn brown.
Zestar apples produce their crops early in the season, usually around the middle of August. They flower in mid-season and can pollinate other varieties which bloom in the middle or late part of the season. These apples are red, very juicy and crispy. They taste as though there was a little bit of brown sugar sprinkled on them. This makes them an excellent choice for use in desserts. The fruit will keep from six to eight weeks after picking.
Honeycrisp has been named the Minnesota state fruit. Although popular in Minnesota, it is grown all over the world. In Europe, it is known as the Honeycrunch apple. It is a cold-hardy tree. The harvest season lasts for two weeks, with the peak of this harvest time being around mid-September. This variety is very resistant to apple scab and fire blight, two apple tree diseases. The fruit is red with splotches of yellow year the stem. The taste of this apple is a combination of sweetness and tart flavor. It is a very crunchy apple as well.
The Sweetango apple is a variety that has been recently developed by the University of Minnesota. It is a cross between the Zestar apple and the Honeycrisp apple. This plant is protected by the US Plant Patent Act. Minnesota growers who wish to grow Sweetango apples must apply for a license to do so. Sweetango apples are red in color and have a sweet-tart taste. They are very juicy and have a nice crisp texture.
Frostbite apple trees produce their crops towards the end of the growing season. This variety was developed to be extremely cold hardy. It is a small apple that has an extremely sweet taste. For this reason, the fruit is ideal for brewing cider or making pies. These trees are available from only one nursery in Minnesota: Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul. There are four other nurseries in the northeastern United States that handle this variety. Nurseries who are handling this variety have entered into an agreement with the Minnesota Nursery Research Corporation to support the University of Minnesota apple breeding program.