The best apple breeders

I was curious who is breeding all these fantastic apples so I looked up one specifically which was Goldrush. Purdue is actually responsible for four of the best modern apples. The apples we keep hearing and reading about all came from the same breeding project ironically. The apples from the project are Goldrush, Pristine, Williams Pride, and Enterprise. Known for disease resistance, flavor, vigor etc. I cannot say that I’ve tasted any of them but their reputation precedes them! Out of the four mentioned that I’m not growing already I ordered!


I have goldrush and pristine , I should look into enterprise, I believe someone suggested it when I was asking for suggestions for an apple variety to plant at my cabin.

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Another really great apple program is the University of Minnesota I grow 4 mature honeycrisp apples from their program. Here are all their latest releases
I planted a Zestar this year.

I know it’s been said before but Enterprise is not the apple the others are but it’s disease resistance makes it appealing to me. It’s certainly worth growing one tree in my orchard. I’ve read the thick skin can be unappealing. I’ve heard the flavor of enterprise is good but not fantastic.

You might find interesting some of Susan Brown’s (Cornell) talks:

  1. [Tasting the Apples of the Future, ] ( and
  2. [Apple Breeding and Genetics: Recent Advances] (
    There are also some talks from Gennaro Fazio (Geneva rootstocks) available online:
  3. Apple Rootstocks and the Quest for Marker Assisted Breeding ,
  4. From Root to Fruit Leveraging Genomic Resources to Breed a Difficult Perennial Crop: Apple Rootstocks
  5. From root to fruit – How rootstocks properties influence fruit production and quality

Great information! Thanks

I would agree that PRI was the best modern breeder. Don’t forget that Perdue had help from Rutgers and Univ of Illinois. Pristine, Pixie Crunch, and Goldrush? Those are stunning achievements.

Univ of Minnesota also comes to mind as an honorable mention. Honeycrisp anyone? I haven’t tried Frostbite or Keepsake yet, but they both come with high praise.

But Mr. Kidd of New Zealand is the dark horse here. Gala? Kidd’s Orange Red?

And what about John Cripps of Western Australia? Cripp’s Pink (aka Pink Lady)? Ding ding… lights out!


Haha, I love Cripp’s Pink as well (my favorite at the moment) but haven’t tasted some of the others here. I grafted Goldrush, Pristine, Williams Pride, and Enterprise this past year so unwittingly focused on PRI releases. I lost the Williams Pride graft so I’ll need to regraft next year but am hoping to get fruit from the others in the next few years. I’m especially looking forward to goldrush.

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I forgot about Williams’ Pride, another PRI apple.

I didn’t see it mentioned, but most of the PRI releases have the letters “pri” in the name, making them a little easier to pick out: PRIstine, EnterPRIse, William’s PRIde. I guess Goldrush was too good for the family name, haha!


There are other apple breeders out there too. I know that Washington State University has one with a newly released cultivar called “Cosmic Crisp.” I think I’ve seen that one in the stores.

The WSU apples are club apples, but worse because for now they are only licensed to WA state growers.

There is also the Midwest Apple Improvement Association, who have released a cultivar called EverCrisp. It is supposed to be open to all growers, but who knows if that includes backyard growers. There is a yearly per-tree fee associated with it. Presumably they plan on other future releases.

You have to consider the Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand- if only because of Jazz (Scifresh). I just ate one of these grown in Washington State and sold in supermarkets here (in Montana) and it’s a great apple.

Here’s a link to Orange Pippin’s listing:

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Clark, we’ve tried a lot of UMinn varieties this year from the orchard we visited, those were Honeycrisp, Zestar, Sweet Sixteen and a SweeTango from the store. All very good, with HC being me and the wife’s favorite. Zestar was also very good, maybe a less intensely flavored HC. ST more sweet than tangy, and just as crunchy, which makes sense since it’s a HC + Z offspring. I don’t think it’s been released to the public yet, tho. It’s interesting that these four are all early season apples. We have a HC planted, and may add a Z next year.

The orchard had Enterprise to sample when I was there last week. It had a very nice flavor, and while the skin is a bit chewy, it’s not a deal breaker for me like I thought it would. Of the other Geneva apples, there were Liberty, Jonagold, Cortland, I would say Liberty was our favorite, very tart and tasty. Cortland is a pleasantly flavored fruit, and doesn’t brown when cut. The JG’s we tried had watercore, and weren’t that good this time. We’re growing this and Liberty, and Macoun.

Of the PRI offerings, we tried Suncrisp, Goldrush, Winecrisp, Mollie’s Delicious, and Pixie Crunch, with me preferring the SC, and my wife the GR. Both are very good. WC is good, not great,but is nicely colored. The MD was very tasty, but is a huge apple, maybe the biggest one I’ve seen. PC were smallish, OK flavor. They grew Crimson Crisp, but were out when we visited. We have planted GR, WC, and Pristine, and would like to add SC next year.

Edit: sorry the Enterprise appears to be another PRI apple, not Geneva. Sorry for the misinfo…

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A local farmer here says Evercrisp is the next great apple. He is stoked about it.

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The only Zestars I’ve had were right up there with the best Honeycrisps I’ve had, which is to say, excellent! I grafted a Zestar this spring and man is it vigorous. I don’t bother buying HCs at the store anymore though, as they almost never impress. In Colorado, the HCs from local orchards (and seemingly all varieties) live up to their best. Must be those cool nights keeping acidity high while abundant sunshine ripens them to perfection.


I’ve grafted many of the PRI and UMinn releases though haven’t tasted most of them (much less from my own trees): Pristine, William’s Pride, Chestnut, Zestar, Honeycrisp, Pixie Crunch, Liberty, Suncrisp, Crimson Crisp, Keepsake, MN 1628, Winecrisp, Goldrush. I hope to get some Chestnuts next year as it is one of the best varieties I’ve ever tasted.


Were you tasting Empire perhaps, which I believe is a Geneva creation?

No, it was an Enterprise. They had some Empires to sample, but I can’t remember if I tried one. If I did, it must not have made an impression on me.

We went there together 3 times, and I went again last week. We tried so many varieties, prob close to 30 or so. We brought lots of them home, and should have plenty to eat the next few months.

It is an impressive place, with over 2K fruit trees, along with various berry patches, and veggie gardens. I just can’t imagine the amount of work that goes into a place like that. I really enjoyed the visits there, and would’ve gone more if we were closer than the 90mi away.

The owner told me last week that a person from the UK extension office is having a seminar in a few months there and invited me to come if I was interested. So, I might take him up on that offer.

It’s funny this thread talks about Honeycrisp. I talked to the owner’s wife there last week about their trees, and she said he is tempted to get rid of his HC trees!
She mentioned that it is very hard to get clean fruit from that variety, that a lot of the apples get some spots on them that look like very small bruises. She said for a backyard grower, it’s prob not an issue, but as an orchard, you’d like the fruit to be somewhat clean for the public. He mentioned that he doesn’t know if any orchard, except maybe one in these parts that can grow HC without these issues. Maybe that’s why they are so much more expensive in stores than other apples.

The first time we were there, HC were available, and they had a lot of “seconds”, or blemished fruit that you could buy for maybe $1/lb, whereas the clean fruit was about $2.39/lb. All other varieties were usually $1.39/lb.

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