Some of the biggest mistakes in fruit growing are its greatest achievements

Honeycrisp has been a wildly popular apple in recent years. Like so many breakthroughs it has more to do with luck and less to do with science than you might think. Determination at anything yields results.

" MAR 9, 2015

Honeycrisp: A case of mistaken identity

Honeycrisp is arguably the most popular new apple cultivar around. Its exceptionally crisp and juicy texture set it apart from its competitors. According to breeders’ records, Honeycrisp resulted from a cross between Macoun and Honeygold made in the 1960s at the University of Minnesota. For years, people tasted the Honeycrisp apple and attributed its promising characteristics to genes inherited from its two putative parents. However, DNA evidence published in 2005 has shown that neither Macoun nor Honeygold are parents of the Honeycrisp apple. It has been revealed that Keepsake, another apple developed at the University of Minnesota, is likely one of the parents and the other parent remains unknown.

Breeders scrutinize potential parents carefully when deciding which cultivars to cross together in the making of a new cultivar. The mistaken identity of Honeycrisp seems to suggest that such scrutiny is superfluous, that the choice of parent is irrelevant and that the success of a cultivar has nothing to do with the genes of its parents. After all, Honeycrisp is one the world`s most popular cultivars but its parents were not even chosen on purpose!

This suggestion is ridiculous. We know that offspring resemble their parents. If your mother and father are both tall, chances are that you will be tall as well. The same applies for many traits in apples. So we know that the choice of what two apples to cross together has an influence on the traits of the resulting offspring. Thus, we argue that it is not the case that scrutiny is superfluous, rather that the scrutiny in traditional apple breeding is limited by the measures employed. The fact that Honeycrisp, one of today’s most successful commercial cultivars, was generated essentially from random parents suggests that the metrics used by breeders in selecting parents are sometimes ineffective. Of course, extensive evaluations were required to choose Honeycrisp as the most promising from among its hundreds of siblings. But any apple breeder will admit that their evaluations involve lots of noisy and subjective measures. Could it be that one of Honeycrisp’s siblings would have had equal success in the marketplace?

We are dedicated to improving the suboptimal toolkit that apple breeders currently have to work with. Apple breeders are dedicated to improving our food: they spend decades evaluating tens of thousands of apple trees that will never attain commercial success in order to pick out the one tree that is worthy of further propagation. By measuring the natural genetic diversity among apple cultivars and determining how this diversity affects commercially important traits, our lab aims to optimize the choice of which apples to cross together. The DNA from the resulting offspring will also be sequenced at the seedling stage, while the trees are small and still in the greenhouse. At this stage, we aim to predict from their genetic information how they will perform as adult trees. Seedlings with undesirable genetic profiles will be discarded, and only the seedlings with the most promising genomes will be planted out in orchards and be evaluated extensively by breeders. This process is called marker-assisted selection and it does not involve producing a genetically modified organism (GMO). We simply use DNA information to enhance traditional breeders’ toolkits, providing them with natural diversity that has been pre-screened. This pre-screening promises to significantly reduce the enormous effort and cost that goes into evaluating tens of thousands of commerically useless trees. “Genetics” is often considered a dirty word in agriculture because of the public`s perception of GMOs. But DNA information promises to help breeders more efficiently and cost-effectively develop tasty cultivars that require less chemical input. There will be no more mistaken identities in the age of genomics.

Sean Myles, Dalhousie University
Old home x farmindale is old home x bartlett

" Old Home x Bartlett?

Genetic fingerprinting reveals a case of mistaken identity.

December 2013 Issue

Geraldine Warner // November 26, 2013

Farmingdale pears are elongated with a swelling at the stem end.

Frank Reimer, pomologist at Oregon State University, first encountered Old Home and Farmingdale in an orchard in Illinois during his extensive search for pear germplasm with resistance to fireblight.

Old Home x Farmingdale pear rootstocks, which have been widely used by the U.S. pear industry for many years, should actually be called Old Home x Bartlett, it turns out.

Genetic fingerprinting done at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon, revealed that it is impossible for Farmingdale to be the pollen parent of any of the several OHxF rootstocks tested.

This prompted Joseph Postman, curator of the repository, to retrace the story behind the OHxF rootstocks. It begins a century ago when Oregon State University pomologist Frank Reimer began scouring the world for pear germplasm with resistance to fireblight, a disease that had made its first appearance in Oregon’s Rogue River Valley in 1906. Reimer was the first superintendent of the OSU Southern Oregon Experiment Station near Medford.

Two of his most important discoveries came from a 1915 visit with fruit grower Benjamin Buckman in Farmingdale, Illinois. One was the cultivar Farmingdale, an open-pollinated seedling that Buckman had found near a d’Anjou pear tree on his farm. The other was Old Home, a seedling that had come from a nursery in Illinois some years earlier. Both these trees were completely free of fireblight. Reimer took scion wood of Old Home back to the Southern Oregon Experiment Station and had Farmingdale scions sent to him several years later.

After more than a decade of testing the many pear species in OSU’s collection, Reimer found only three European cultivarsFarmingdale, Longworth, and Old Homethat had excellent blight resistance when used as trunk stocks.

After Buckman died, the original Farmingdale and Old Home trees in Illinois were destroyed, and the trees at OSU became the primary source of nursery stock.

Fireblight resistant

Reimer found in the 1930s that when Farmingdale was used as a pollen parent in crosses with other blight-resistant selections, a high percentage of the resulting seedlings were highly resistant to fireblight, especially when the seed parent was Old Home.

Although crosses between other blight-resistant parents also produced seedlings that were resistant to blight, many of those seedlings became infected when a susceptible cultivar such as Bartlett or Bosc was grafted onto them. In those cases, fireblight could spread from an infected cultivar across the graft union into the rootstock. In contrast, the OHxF seedlings were resistant even to the spread of fireblight from a grafted cultivar.

One of Reimer’s goals was to establish a mother block of Old Home and Farmingdale trees in Medford to generate seed for producing blight-resistant seedling rootstocks. However, Lyle Brooks, owner of Daybreak Nursery in Forest Grove, Oregon, became concerned about the variability of pear cultivars grafted onto OHxF seedling rootstocks. Collaborating with Dr. Mel Westwood at OSU, Corvallis, he set out to develop clonal rootstocks from those two parents.

In 1950, he obtained half a kilogram of seeds from what he described as an isolated block of Old Home trees planted with Farmingdale pollinizers at the Canadian Department of Agriculture Research Unit near Summerland, British Columbia. It now appears that Bartlett must have been planted in the vicinity of the Summerland pear block where Brooks obtained the seeds.


Of the 2,000 seedlings he grew from those seeds, 516 were planted in a nursery block for evaluation. Thirteen of the more easily propagated selections were evaluated in trials for disease resistance and many other traits, including hardiness, precocity, compatibility with pear varieties, and tolerance to pear decline, as well as resistance to fireblight.

Several, including OHxF 69, 87, 97, and 333, were patented in 1988 by Carlton Nursery, which was operated by the Brooks family. The rootstocks have been propagated worldwide and continue to be in high demand, though some lack the size control and precocity needed for high-density orchards.

More than 40 of the OHxF selections are preserved at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository. In 2009, Postman and ARS plant geneticist Dr. Nahla Bassil did genetic fingerprinting of pears in the collection and found that d’Anjou was very likely the maternal parent of Farmingdale, as Buckman and Reimer had suspected.

They then went on to do genetic paternity testing of six OHxF selections (51, 69, 87, 97, 230, and 333), along with a number of other cultivars. All the OHxF selections proved to be related to Old Home, but the tests showed that Farmingdale was highly unlikely to be a pollen parent. On the other hand, there was a strong indication that Bartlett was genetically related to all those selections.


Postman said this explained what had been something of a puzzle to him over the years: While fruit of the OHxF selections in the germplasm collection resembles Old Home, which has a distinctive round shape, it does not at all resemble Farmingdale. The shape of OHxF fruit tends to be intermediate between that of Old Home and Bartlett. Similarly, the foliage of the OHxF selections resembles the foliage of Old Home but not Farmingdale.

Lynnell Brandt, president of Brandt’s Fruit Trees in Yakima, Washington, said his father Everette worked at Carlton Nursery during the time when Brooks was testing the OHxF rootstocks to identify the most promising ones. Lynnell, who joined the staff of Carlton Nursery in the late 1970s, said he felt confident that both Brooks and Westwood believed that Farmingdale was the pollinizing parent.

“Who were we to question those two?” he asked. “They were the world’s leaders in pear understocks. And it seems strange to me, because Lyle would definitely notice the difference between Bartlett and Farmingdale. He would have known the leaves were different.”

Postman said the fact that the OHxF rootstocks have no Farmingdale heritage means that the highly fireblight-resistant Farmingdale is under-represented in the pedigrees of the pear rootstocks currently used in the pear industry as well as in the parent material being used in rootstock breeding programs.

Although Farmingdale is not likely to instill either dwarfing or precocity in its offspring, Farmingdale germplasm should be reconsidered if fireblight resistance is to be an important genetic trait in future pear cultivars and rootstocks, he suggests.

Future DNA fingerprinting in the USDA pear gene bank should help breeders better understand the paternity of parents when making crosses to develop improved varieties, he added.

The question now is whether the OHxF rootstocks should be renamed. The patent expired in 2005, so no one owns the OHxF name.

“Water’s gone under the bridge for so long, so whether they’re Bartlett or Farmingdale, everyone will probably continue to call them OHxF so things don’t get confused,” said Joe Dixon, sales representative with Carlton Plants. “There’s really nobody who would rename them or have the rights to do so, I don’t think.” •"

The romance series cherries were bred in secret. They did not start out as a cherry breeding project they were a shelter belt project. Not an accident but many crosses are random.

" Tarts with a touch of romance

University of Saskatchewan breeding program yields some surprising dwarf cherries.

August 2018 Issue

Leslie Mertz // August 16, 2018

The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Fruit Program is breeding a series of dwarf tart cherries that are well suited for mechanical harvesting and U-pick operations.(Courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan Fruit Program.

About 200 miles beyond the northern border of Montana, fruit experts have been working on something unique: a collection of bush-type tart cherries that produce large, tasty fruits well-suited for mechanical harvesting. Canadians use the term sour rather than tart, but “in reality, ours are more tart and Americans’ are more sour,” said Bob Bors, head of the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Fruit Program, including its Dwarf Sour Cherry Breeding Program.

“These varieties represent a breakthrough in having a bush cherry instead of a tree,” said Bors, who spoke at the 2017 Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market EXPO held in December. “And they can be renewed, because if you have old trunks, you can just lop them off when they’re seven, eight years old, and new ones will take over. You can keep the same bushes growing for a long time … probably the rest of your life,” he said, adding that this kind of renewal also keeps the trunks flexible enough for over-the-row harvesters.

Unexpectedly “amazing”

When Bors first joined U of S in 1999, which is the same year the university released its first dwarf sour cherry called Carmine Jewel, he didn’t appreciate just how unusual these dwarf cherries were. That changed when he presented data on the new variety at an international fruit conference in the northwestern United States.

Bob Bors

Bob Bors

“It was only my second year in Saskatchewan, and I came from a background of strawberries and raspberries, not tree fruits and certainly not cherries. I thought I was being brave doing this presentation on our cherries, because I figured they’d all tell me what I’m doing wrong,” he recalled. “So, I get up there, and I say the cherries are this big and the bushes are this big, and we think we can harvest them over these two weeks every year, and strangely, nobody asks me any tough questions.”

His first inkling that the cherries were something special came when the next speaker, a breeder from Finland, began his talk by acknowledging that his program’s sour cherries weren’t as big or as sweet as the Saskatchewan sour cherries. And that wasn’t all. “Then a guy from Hungary leans over to me and says, ‘Your cherries are amazing. They’re going to be what they talk about at this conference.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God!’”

Boosted by the unexpected and overwhelmingly positive reception at the conference, Bors and his group kicked the program into high gear. “We started devoting a lot of time to researching the cherries, figuring out how to propagate them in tissue culture, and looking at them more closely in terms of mechanical harvesting,” he said. The latter was of interest because the region’s short season didn’t draw immigrant labor, so growers were already exploring machine harvesting for Saskatoon berries.

The bush league

By 2004, the university had released five more cherry varieties in what it calls its Romance series: Romeo, Juliet, Valentine, Cupid and Crimson Passion. All are dwarf, high-yielding, hardy, bush-type trees. “I would say the best ones in the Romance series for flavor and prettiness are Romeo and Juliet,” Bors says. Both Romeo and Juliet are dark, wine-colored cherries that are excellent for fresh eating or processing. Valentine has a more traditional bright red color, just a shade darker than Montmorency. “This is our best for drying because of its color, whereas Romeo and Juliet may taste great dried but would look like black raisins, and the consumer might equate that with low quality,” he said.

Cupid tends to bloom five days later than the other U of S varieties, but Bors said it has two drawbacks. First, it takes an extra year to come into production. Second, the cherries are overly large. “In some years, half of the cherries will be too big for the pitting machine,” he said.

Crimson Passion produces a high-quality, very firm fruit, but he considers it “too dwarf.” He estimates the mass of the bush as about a third of the other U of S varieties. “We’ve also had trouble rooting it, and it’s slow to establish in the field, so I wouldn’t recommend those for a commercial grower.”

The breeding program’s initial release, Carmine Jewel, is a dependable, dark red cherry that has consistently highly production – typically 25 to 30 pounds per bush — and ripens earlier than the other varieties. This dark red cherry is not as large as those in the Romance series, but it has a high flesh-to-pit ratio and small pits.

Finding a niche

Michigan State University researchers have tested three U of S cherry varieties — Romeo, Juliet and Crimson Passion — since 2011 to determine how the dwarf varieties stack up against the Montmorency trees, which are typically grown on a standard rootstock and grow into tall trees.

“Because our harvesting systems actually clamp onto the tree and shake it, we have to wait until Montmorency is physically big enough, and that means that after we put them in, we don’t harvest until year six or seven. What we were hoping was that these bush-like trees would come into bearing sooner so we could come in with these new shaker harvester systems that can get fruit off these little bushes,” said Nikki Rothwell, coordinator of MSU’s Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center.

That study demonstrated that the dwarf cherries can indeed be harvested two or three years earlier with an over-the-row modified blueberry harvester.

The dwarf cherries don’t have much disease pressure up in Saskatchewan, although growers have recently begun to spray for brown rot, which has emerged due to increasingly rainy weather over the past five years, Bors said. The MSU study evaluated the same three varieties for susceptibility to cherry leaf spot and found they were no better against the disease than were Montmorency.

Rothwell believes the U of S varieties are a good choice, particularly for growers with U-pick operations. “There are different populations within Michigan who like that tart cherry, as well as eastern Europeans who have embraced tart cherries, so there are people who really want to come out and pick their own cherries,” she said. “With Montmorency cherries, you’d have to put people on ladders and that means liability, so there’s been some definite interest in these dwarf cherries in the U-pick community.”

The next project for the U of S Dwarf Sour Cherry Breeding Program is a new Musketeer series of fruit that is being developed with European markets in mind, Bors said. “There’s one called d’Artagnan that is designed for a certain type of sideways harvester used in Europe for black currants and by Saskatoon berry growers in Canada. The branches on that variety tend to stay small, thin and flexible for a long time, so it will go a decade before its branches need pruning.” No release date is available yet.

The U of S fruit program is also developing other fruits, including haskaps/honeyberries, apples, hazelnuts and grapes, but the dwarf cherries remain a highlight. Details about the University of Saskatchewan’s six dwarf tart cherry varieties are available at

The secret life of Saskatchewan’s dwarf tarts

As director of the Dominion of Canada’s Forestry Farm in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Les Kerr’s primary job was to develop ornamental and disease-free trees and shrubs to be used as bird habitat and wind breaks. But in 1944, Les Kerr got sidetracked by cherries.

“He was supposed to be working on shelterbelt trees and not edible fruits, but he had crossed Mongolian sour cherries (Prunus fruticosa) to some northern varieties, and to hide his breeding program from the government, he would have farmers who were growing his shelterbelt plants also grow his cherry seedlings,” said Bob Bors, head of the U of S fruit program.

He would visit his trees, select the cream of the crop and cross-pollinate them. Presumably, he continued working with breeding these after his retirement in 1965, but the project remained a secret.

By 1983, Kerr’s clandestine work had led to some interesting cherries, but his health was failing and his program was in jeopardy of being lost forever. “He was dying in the hospital when one of his nursery friends (George Krahn) told him he should inform the university about his secret cherry program,” Bors said. Kerr agreed. He met with University of Saskatchewan fruit expert Cecil Stushnoff, mapped out which farms had his best material, and bequeathed the trees to the university. Kerr died about two weeks later.

Stushnoff and U of S technician Rick Sawatzky picked up where Kerr left off and began crossing his trees to northern European and Minnesota varieties, most of which were obtained from the Vineland Research Station in Ontario. That work yielded the 1999 release of the U of S’s first dwarf tart cherry cultivar, a cold-hardy dwarf cherry called SK Carmine Jewel. Since then, the university has released five others and is continuing to develop new varieties.

—by Leslie Mertz"

It is easy to find fault with everything or nothing the perspective is up to us. They planted an apple that became honeycrisp but not from their crosses. Carmine jewell was 70 years in the making so they had many failures before success. Oldhome x farmingdale is the most widely used pear rootstock, but was not what they thought it was. Everything genetically different is valuable though it may not yet be recognized for it’s value yet. Most really good fruit happened to grow by accident not intentionally. I’m posting this to get everyone to look twice at something in a different way. The things people try to irradicate sometimes are needed. “For centuries, rye was viewed as a weed that grew in wheat” . People like rye very much now. “For centuries, rye was viewed as a weed that grew in wheat. Because of
this, however, the true value of rye as a grain was discovered.
Wheat with rye seeds mixed in it was shipped to southern Russia. There it
was discovered that the soil and climate was too harsh for the wheat to grow, but
the rye did very well. It was harvested and used, even though it made heavier,
darker bread.
Because rye could thrive where wheat could not, it became a sub crop.
Countries that previously had to buy wheat to make their leavened bread began
using rye. During the Middle Ages, Northern Europeans became especially fond
of rye.
In the American colonies, maize or corn was the most popular grain. It had
saved the colonist from starvation. They grew rye mainly to mix with corn flour or
meal in bread.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, rye’s popularity decreased, even in northern
Europe. The Romans and French had always preferred wheat breads and the
Swedes, English, Scots and Danes also began favoring them. The Germans and
Russians remained loyal to rye bread, which is still popular. In the United States,
rye is used very little compared to wheat and oats. It is mainly used mixed with
wheat flour in bread and rolls.”

Rye-Information.pdf (395.8 KB)


I hope I can make a mistake like these examples on my farm! :slight_smile:



The hardest part is recognizing them when they happen.

Sometimes they dont work out

Sometimes they work out

Other times we dont know the results yet


Clark, I read that the honeycrispy’s real dad is not its dad🤣


Time to go on Jerry Springer…or since this is a horticulture related forum…Jerry Sprinkler?



It’s mom is not it’s mom either.

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Both parents of Honeycrisp were identified a few years ago. Keepsake is one and the other is a never released tree from a breeding line. A bee made the cross. Granny Smith apple is a good example of someone throwing apple cores out behind the house where a tree grew and turned into a phenomenally good variety. I could give a dozen more examples where serendipity beat out dedicated fruit breeders.

There is a problem with modern genetic breeding programs where DNA is used to shortcut the process. Instead of growing 10,000 trees, DNA tests permit only growing the 100 trees with most genetic potential. The problem with this is that sometimes there is a single tree in the 9,900 that would have been exceptional even if it had a few flaws.

With pecan breeding, it is perfectly possible to plant a dozen potential parents in an isolation plot, then harvest and grow the resulting seed. If 100,000 seedlings are grown, at least 100 would be world class pecans, 10 would be as good or better than the best currently available, and at least one would be the best pecan yet grown. This is just letting nature take care of the breeding and doing mass selection from the offspring. That said, some traits such as scab resistance can be determined by DNA tests. This should permit growing only 1000 trees to find the 100 that are top notch.

For disease resistance, nothing beats challenge tests. This is where a plant is grown large enough so that a disease organism can be sprayed onto the plant deliberately infecting it and then see which plants have genetic resistance. With tomatoes, challenge tests are standard for breeding and selection. They are also used to identify wild germplasm that has traits of interest for commercial breeding work. Firdaus used challenge tests to identify a few wild tomatoes resistant to white flies. The result is a breeding program targeted to bring white fly resistance into commercial tomatoes.


i remember reading somewhere that they almost scrapped the honeycrisp. Not because it wasn’t a good apple. But because it did not “fit” what they tough the industry and consumer wanted. The honeycrisp was on the finnicky/low production size. And they did not expect consumers to pay the premium price that would make it worthwhile for the grower to spend the extra effort.

Kind of makes you wonder, how many other incredible apples have been discarded because they did not fit the system that people though was needed to make a good commercial apple variety.

i think the commercial success of the honeycrisp has less to do with it’s parents. And more to do with the fact that somewhere along the line someone took a risk and decided to challenge/test what was considered an apple that fit the commercial system.



Exactly , if you saw that article i linked above it says " According to breeders’ records, Honeycrisp resulted from a cross between Macoun and Honeygold made in the 1960s at the University of Minnesota. For years, people tasted the Honeycrisp apple and attributed its promising characteristics to genes inherited from its two putative parents. However, DNA evidence published in 2005 has shown that neither Macoun nor Honeygold are parents of the Honeycrisp apple. It has been revealed that Keepsake, another apple developed at the University of Minnesota, is likely one of the parents and the other parent remains unknown."

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I bet your right, we likely lost 1000x more fruits than we saved for the next generations. As an example look at kamut wheat

"The story of KAMUT® brand wheat began in 1949, when Earl Dedman, a US Airman stationed in Portugal, received some unusual looking grain from a man who claimed to have taken it from a tomb in Egypt. More likely, the man purchased it from a street vendor in Cairo, Egypt with the story that it had come from an ancient Egyptian tomb. Earl sent 36 kernels of the wheat to his father, Rube Dedman, a farmer near Fort Benton, Montana, USA. Within six years, the elder Dedman had grown the small number of seeds into 1,500 bushels, calling it “King Tut wheat.”

The grain called “King Tut wheat” became a local novelty. In 1964 a farmer passed out samples of the grain at the nearby county fair where Bob Quinn, 16 at the time, first saw it. After a few years, the novelty faded and the grain disappeared.

In 1977, just after finishing his Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry at the University of California at Davis, Bob was eating a package of Corn Nuts® snacks. Across the back of the package, it was written that Corn Nuts® was made from a giant corn. Remembering the giant King Tut wheat, Bob decided to contact the Corn Nuts® Company to see if they would be interested in making a giant wheat snack. The company expressed interest and Bob’s father, Mack, located a jar of the grain. However, after learning of the limited supply, the company decided not to continue with the project.

In 1978, Bob returned to the family farm near Big Sandy, Montana. Despite the loss of interest from the Corn Nuts® Company, the wheat was grown to increase the supply, starting from a handful of kernels that were carefully selected by Mack. During the same period, Bob also became interested in organic farming and in 1986 planted his first certified organic crop. By 1989, the entire Quinn family farm had become organic.
In 1986, Bob and his father decided to display the grain at a food show in Anaheim, California. This was the first year their company, Montana Flour & Grains, exhibited to promote their organic wheat and flour. Due to interest in the grain, they seeded their entire supply of 60 lbs. of the ancient wheat on one and a half acres and continued to increase this in following years.

Demand grew rapidly as many people reported enjoying the taste of foods made with the grain and that it was easier to digest compared to modern wheat. After positive results of an initial study with wheat sensitive people, Bob recognized the unique and healthy qualities of the grain and sought to protect them by preserving the variety under a trade name. In 1990, with the assistance of Mack, the “KAMUT” trademark was registered to be used as a guarantee, under which the original ancient grain would remain unmodified and always organically grown.

Today, KAMUT® brand wheat can be found throughout the world in products including breads, pasta, pizza, cereals, snacks, pastries, crackers, beer, green foods, and cereal drinks.

i also want to note.

I think the crunchiness of honeycrisp is certainly nice. It’s however not something i would demand in every apple.

I think our commercial apple growing system. Where most apples in the grocers have been stored for many weeks or months. “Trained” the consumer to value crunchiness. Because the crunchy apples where freshest or best stored. And also had better taste because of that. Almost every apple becomes “bad” when it’s stored so long that it becomes mealy.

The consumer also value’s a full deep red colour. I suspect because apples of a red cultivar with a lack of colour might have come from an overcropped/shaded tree and thus lacked the quality of other apples of the same cultivar.

In my experience however, the best apples if tasted did not have a full red colour.

same for apple size. While consumers clearly favor large sized fruit. I’ve found many small apples to be superior. (also in storage)

In the Netherlands, quite a few new apple cultivar’s have been introduced. That while crunchy (but not extremely so) are more flavorful. Or have a huge size with deep red colour.

(or fresco i think in Germany) is an example of such an apple.

SQ159 (Natyra, Magic Star, Sprank) is another one.

I’m very curious to see. How these new varieties that are more focused on quality (flavour etc) than quantity (and thus higher price) fare against our staple.

Our staple is elstar. which imo is a lot better than red delicious. But really cheap and a very productive apple. Quite a good/decent apple in it’s own right.

o, some of the best apples if tasted (old English apples for example) are not crunchy at all. But not mealy either. I would describe them as “dense”
If you train your subconscious to not “assume” bad flavor or quality when an apple is not incredibly crisp. A world of awesome cultivars opens up. It’s a shame our commercial system does exactly the opposite.

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Honeycrisp is the product of Keepsake x MN1627…and the 4 respective grandparents are
Northern Spy x Frostbite and Dutchess of Oldenberg x Golden Delicious.

I have a Frostbite, but it did not bloom this year. Previously picked it too early, so still looking to taste a ripe one.
I have at least 3 children of Honeycrisp including Triumph.



How are they doing for you? Interesting thing my honeycrisp dont get diseases. They also may produce apples 5 years straight then 5 years without apples. The japanese beetles love them!

Triumph is not as disease free as advertised and far too early…no fruit expected in 2024.

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That is a solid pedigree.

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Some probably might question Frostbite. But it has Melinda in it’s heritage, as do many of the U of Minnesota offerings. One of their original apples in their breeding program.

i have frostbite, sweet16 and keepsake on 2 of my trees. their flavor profiles are not typical of my tastes but i like different and the 1st 2 mentioned are known for that as well as being exceptionally hardy. looking forward to trying them. if too sweet for my palate my little niece im sure will enjoy them.


I agree hoeycrisp is for the commercial market. Big Box stores sell them all season because they are a known cultivar so trees sell well too. My first apple was a honey crisp. I tried other commercial apples like pink lady and Fuji and I prefer the pink lady or fuji over honey crisp. I have less commercial cultivars now like Cox’s Orange Pippin, Zestar!, and another antique apple to it will be interesting to see how those compare over time to the commercial apples. I don’t have honey crisp because honey crisp is notoriously hard to grow and I hear the stores have perfected it anyway. The romance series was less of a mistake and more so that the breeder had to develop them in secret for fear of being fired. That tells you more about the system than a mistake.


I don’t like Honeycrisp at all. To me the only thing it has going for it is texture. I’m tired of the texture and consider it “played” Right now I have a lot of diversity of texture in my orchard. Currently my favorite is Hudsons Golden Gem. It’s kind of like a pear but different.



Roxbury russet and red cinnamon are my favorites @39thparallel grows. Love my little crabapple for many reasons , flavor is one reason…