Frostbite Apple

Does anyone grow or has anyone tasted this apple? It sounds like it’d be worth trying, but I can’t find a lot of info. Fedco describes it as: “Likely the most distinctive and unusual apple we’ve ever tried.”

Is that the new apple from Dave Wilson? Maybe not but I think there were 2 new ones coming out this year. I think one of them was ghost apple or something like that.

Frostbite is the name of an apple that the University of Minnesota has used in its breeding program for some time.

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I’m enjoying my first fruit from a Frostbite tree I grafted a few years ago. It’s been a slow grower for me. I left about 20 fruits on this tree (set a much larger crop. I’ve sampled five or six of them as those with CM or that cracked the worst have dropped. It’s very sweet, deeply sweet, if that makes sense. I like it quite a lot.

I hope the tree settles down as it ages and the fruit doesn’t crack as badly in the future, but it does have a reputation for cracking just like most of my crop has this year.

I know they’ve trademarked the Frostbite name, but I actually ordered this scion from the Geneva Repository as MN 447 six or seven years ago, probably the year before they trademarked the name, and am happy to share a few scions. I won’t have many though.


It is a grandparent of Honeycrisp. Supposed to taste like pure sugar cane. I’ve tried grafting it twice, and failed both times! I hope to try again next spring. Sometimes scions can be obtained from USDA/GRIN. I put in my request months ago.

Masonville, Purvis, and SingingTree sell budwood.

Sometimes Fedco, Cummins, and Grandpa’s/Moser’s nurseries sell whole budded trees.

Here are my notes on Frostbite, compiled from various sources:

Frostbite of Minnesota. Guard against fireblight and mildew. Not listed as precocious. Plant in accessible sunny spot & watch for mildew. Small apple (2-inches wide); good fresh eater; intensely tart and sweet as molasses or sugarcane; juicy; aromatic. Super cold hardy. Mid-late bloomer. Harvest Sept. Eat Sept/early Oct.


I am not an expert on apples by any means, and my experience with them are very limited. But, I have tried quite a few of UMinn varieties over the last couple months: Honeycrisp, Zestar, Sweet Sixteen, and today, a SweeTango. I’ve really liked what I’ve tried so far, and I wonder if their other offerings, like this Frostbite, plus State Fair, Prairie Spy, Keepsake, Haralson, etc are similar in quality. I know a lot of these apples are related to each other, but they do seem to be consistently good fruit.

As @Matt_in_Maryland, mentioned, Cummins does sell Frostbite, along with other UMinn varieties. They have FB on B118, and G935 rootstocks.

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I could tell you about my own experience with Haralson. I picked it last year at Verger Merleau, in Qc (Canadian zone 3-4). The apples were on a low spray program. They all looked good: regular shape, smooth skin, disease free. They all were on the small side. Their color was a bit unappealing to me, compared to other apples like McIntosh, MacBlack and Freedom. They were very light and crunchy, more than the other varieties I mentionned. Some sweetness, some acidity. But their taste was nothing special… Much less aromatic than, say, a MacBlack. Less acidity as well… I’m guessing it would be very popular with kids. A good apple, nothing extraordinary.

I can not attest to the taste of most apples as I’m just in the early stages of growing my eventual orchard. I grafted a Frostbite on B118 last year, its currently in my nursery, it is middle of the pack as far as vigor.

I know this is an old post but I’m hoping there are some others who have FrostBite fruit this year who will chime in. We just ate our first, and only, FB today from a 2 yr old tree. It had dropped the apple 9-24 and it’s been on the counter since. It was still quite firm but I couldn’t wait any longer to try it, considering all the comments about the flavor. Well, we both liked it a lot. Crisp, juicy, very nice flavor. Something a bit different but not outrageously so. I’m guessing the flavor might be more intense after some time in storage but it was great as it was. I thought it had a bit of “grape juice” flavor. Can’t wait for a larger harvest!



This was the 3rd year I tried grafting it. This year it finally took… and it produced a pair of apples on the growing scion, but the critters stole them before I could get my taste.

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I know a person who works for the only apple CSA (that I am aware of)

and she mentioned Frostbite as her favorite. I don’t believe the name is trademarked…
I look forward to trying it again at the Great Maine Apple Day, hopefully my taste buds won’t be jaded by the hundred+ varieties to sample…


Some say Frostbite has sugarcane or molasses flavors.

Frostbite is one of the grandparents of Honeycrisp.

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Sugar cane is right on the money
Texture is good, firm nice crunch


Just curious, how did your find out that Frostbite is a grandparent of Honey Crisp?

I’ve read that one of HC’s parents is Keepsake, the other is unknown.

The University of Minnesotas website states, “Frostbite™ is a parent to Keepsake and Sweet 16 apples and a grandparent to Honeycrisp.”

Frostbite™ has been a key apple in the U of M’s breeding program since the 1920’s.


Thanks. Quite a pedigree it has.

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Here are our other discussions on the recently unlocked secrets of Honeycrisp’s ancestry.

Thanks. U of MN seems to be a lot of success oroducing good tasting apples.

Here is the latest understanding of what scientists believe to be the true pedigree of Honeycrisp.

Frostbite is the maternal grandmother of Honeycrisp.

When listing the crosses, I list the mother trees first, the pollen-parent fathers last.

The only thing not known about this table is whether Duchess of Oldenburg and Golden Delcious are paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather, in that order, or whether they are paternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, in that order.

It is my theory that Duchess of Oldenburg was the paternal grandMOTHER (the mother pod-parent host plant, from which developed the actual apple within which the MN 1627 seed was formed). I imagine this the more likely scenario because Duchess of Oldenburg was known to be the rockstar of the University of Minnesota’s decades-old breeding program. This is because Duchess of Oldenburg is one of the most cold-hardy cultivars known in existence, and one of the only apples that could be relied upon to survive repeatedly cold Minnesota winters and grow into mature mother trees. This would make Golden Delicious the paternal grandFATHER (pollen contributor to the cross resulting in the MN 1627 seedling).


I have thought much the same, for the same reason you, Matt, propose concerning D/O, and because GD is popularly used for a pollen source throughout the industry.

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