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Minnesota Plant Breeders Introduce 'First Kiss' Apple
Minnesota Ag Connection - 08/10/2018

The wait is over. This fall, Minnesotans will be able to get their first taste of the newest apple developed by apple breeding team at the University of Minnesota (UMN).

First Kiss apples, produced by Minnesota orchards, will be ready to harvest in mid-to-late August -- up to four weeks earlier than its parent Honeycrisp, while still providing apple eaters with the texture and taste for which UMN-bred apples are known.

First Kiss dates back to the late 1990s when UMN's apple breeders David Bedford and Jim Luby set out to breed an apple with the taste and texture of a 'Honeycrisp' that would be ready to harvest by Labor Day weekend.

To accomplish this, they crossed Honeycrisp, known for its juicy texture, with an early ripening variety from the University of Arkansas known as 'AA44.' After years of rigorous trials at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Research Center, First Kiss emerged as a clear winner.

"With First Kiss, we got the best of both worlds," explained David Bedford, a research scientist in the UMN's Department of Horticultural Science, part of the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. "Its crisp texture and spritely flavor make it an excellent choice for fresh eating and its early harvest date means Minnesota apple lovers can enjoy their favorite Minnesota grown fruit sooner than ever."

First Kiss is a premium apple with striking characteristics -- it features a beautiful scarlet red color; it has a lively, tart flavor; and it is ready to harvest at the very start of autumn.

While First Kiss will be available this fall, supply will be limited but will increase over the next few years as the trees mature and bear more fruit.

"We're excited for Minnesotans to get their first taste of First Kiss this fall," said Jim Luby, UMN Professor of Horticultural Science. "Through two decades of evaluating hundreds of crosses and thousands of trees, First Kiss distinguished itself throughout our research and trials as a superior, early fall apple."

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been developing and evaluating apple varieties since 1878. First Kiss marks the 27th apple to be released by the breeding program and 18 of those 27 are still available today, including Honeycrisp.

More information regarding UMN's apple varieties can be found at www.mnhardy.umn.edu.

Produced from the newly released MN55 apple tree cultivar developed by the University of Minnesota, First Kiss is an exclusive brand for a premium quality apple fruit. Apples grown out-of-state are part of an exclusive license agreement with Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Wash., and will be marketed as Rave. Only apples grown in Minnesota will be marketed as First Kiss apples. Rave/First Kiss (MN55 cultivar) are registered trademarks of the University of Minnesota.

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