The environmentally wise desire for locally grown, fresh, and delicious food would resonate with the first plant breeders at the University of Minnesota. The drive for better plants in a challenging climate started soon after the Agricultural Experiment Station was created in 1887 with the quest for a hardy apple. Favorite trees from "back East" often suffered severe winter injury or failed to ripen before a killing autumn frost. Crossing them with apples brought in from colder climates eventually led to the enduring favorites, 'Haralson' and 'Beacon.'

The development of 'Honeycrisp' is recognized as one of the top 25 innovations of the decade by the 2006 Better World Report. This report, by the Association of University Technology Managers, recognizes significant academic research and technology transfer that has made the world a better place. Since 'Honeycrisp' trees were introduced in 1991, millions have been planted, producing excellent fruit that is enjoyed by consumers all over the U.S.

What's Next in Apples

How does the U of M develop new varieties? We do it the old fashioned way. Like the birds and the bees. Like the butterflies, wind, and rain. Our research scientists manually and painstakingly cross pollinate like nature does.

Four apples with distinctive traits—Zestar!®, SnowSweet®, SweeTango®, and Frostbite™ apples—are the most recent introductions from the University's world-renowned apple breeding program.

The Zestar!® apple has a sprightly sweet-tart taste with a hint of brown sugar. It is an unusually crunchy, crisp and juicy early season apple.

SnowSweet® apple trees produce savory, sweet fruit, with a slight tart balance. An added benefit is the snow white flesh that is very slow to brown when cut and exposed to air.

SweeTango® has quite the "family tree" as a cross between two popular apples—'Honeycrisp' (mom) and Zestar!® (dad)—yet it delivers its own unique flavor plus the satisfying "crunch" of a 'Honeycrisp.'

The Frostbite™ apple tree fits a special niche. It is an extremely cold-hardy tree with small fruit tasting almost like sugarcane—tangy, very sweet, and juicy.


SnowSweet® (Wildung variety), Zestar!® (Minnewashta variety), and SweeTango® (Minneiska variety) are registered trademarks of the University of Minnesota. Frostbite™ is a trademark of the University of Minnesota.