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Fun Facts about Your First Kiss (Apple)

Well, not your first kiss exactly, but your first, "First Kiss®"!  It's the name of the new commercial apple introduced to Minnesotans by the University of Minnesota.

Here's the beauty of this scarlet red beauty: First Kiss® tastes like Honeycrisp, but, lucky for the fans of this popular apple, it is ready to harvest earlier. 

What's the story?

This variety has been in the works since the late 1990s when UMN apple breeders David Bedford and Jim Luby set out to develop an apple that would be ready to pick and eat by Labor Day weekend.

After two decades of rigorous trials to evaluate hundreds of crosses and thousands of trees at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Research Center, First Kiss emerged as a clear winner. And with it, David Bedford says, "we got the best of both worlds!" 

Can I buy these apples?

The new apple is available this fall (you can try one at the State Fair) but supply will be limited. As the trees mature and bear fruit, more apples will be available to Minnesotans. "We're excited for Minnesotans to get their first taste of First Kiss," Jim Luby said.

In the future, if you're looking for it in the store out of state, this new apple is being marketed with the name "Rave®" and grown by Stemlit Growers in Wenatchee, Washington.

Five Facts about First Kiss®

Be in the know! Here are five facts about the newest apple kid on the block:

  1. Honeycrisp x 'AA44' Even apples have parents! UMN plant breeders carefully cross-pollinated Honeycrisp with 'AA44' from the University of Arkansas. The result? An early season treat with the famous crisp and juicy texture of Honeycrisp! 
  2. First Kiss is ready to harvest and eat in mid-to-late August. That's up to four weeks earlier than Honeycrisp.
  3. First Kiss is #27--the 27th apple released by plant breeders at the University of Minnesota in the program's history! Eighteen of those 27 are still available today, including Honeycrisp.
  4. How does it taste? First Kiss features a tart, yet well-balanced flavor...and the texture is crisp and juicy, like a Honeycrisp!
  5. First Kiss apples can only be grown by licensed apple orchards in Minnesota. Sorry home gardeners!

BUT...want to know what varieties you can grow in Minnesota? Honeycrisp, haralson, Sweet Sixteen and more! Learn about the best varieties for Minnesota and what you'll need to know to produce some lovely apples in your own home garden at:

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have been developing and evaluating apple varieties since 1878. If you'd like to learn more about the U of Mn's apple tree breeding program, take a look at this video and have an apple!

Author: Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Communication Specialist

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