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David Bedford, the apple breeder at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, was my guest on Tuesday's AM Minnesota Program. I always schedule an AM Minnesota with David at this time of the year to talk about the apple crop and industry in Minnesota.

How Did Spring Frost and Drought Affect Apple Crops and Prices?

Remember last spring we had a couple of really cold nights when the blossoms were on the apple trees? If a frost kills the flowers there will be no apples in the fall! David said there was scattered minor damage but we "dodged a bullet" as the frost was minor. However, the drought this summer did have an impact on the apple trees too. The number of apples was not affected but they may be slightly smaller this year, which may actually enhance the flavor. With a somewhat smaller crop this year you may see slightly higher prices for apples at your grocery store or local orchard.

New Apple Variety Released in Minnesota

Last year, David said they were ready to release a new apple variety that had not been named yet. It is now being released and it is called the Triumph apple. It is a bit of a play off of apple scab because the Triumph is resistant to apple scab. Thus, you do not have to spray the tree with a fungicide to prevent apple scab. By the way, it was traditional plant breeding that developed the Triumph variety. It only took a little over 20 years to develop the Triumph variety.

The University of Minnesota says the Triumph "is a pleasantly tart and well-balanced red apple with good storage life."

Triumph Apple (Credit: University of Minnesota)

The parents of the Triumph are the Liberty apple and the Honeycrisp, which is one of the most popular and best-selling apple varieties in the United States. The Honeycrisp was also developed at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Currently, Triumph trees are only available at nurseries licensed by the U of M to propagate and sell the new apple variety. According to the list on the UofM Minnesota Hardy website, the only licensed nursery in Minnesota right now is Baily Nurseries in Newport, just south of St. Paul. The 10 other nurseries licensed to sell Triumph trees are in Michigan, New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. See the full list here.

It takes several years for new Triumph trees to bear fruit, so consumers won't be able to taste them just yet, but if you are interested in growing your own Triumph apple tree, you can purchase the new variety as it becomes available at local nurseries over the next few years.

Click play in the player below and listen to David talk about the apple breeding program at the University of Minnesota. 

FYI: There are only 3 apple breeding programs in the United States, one at Cornell out east, one in the west at the University of Washington, and of course here in the Midwest at the University of Minnesota.

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