Horticulture -- U of M Varieties -- Tree fruits -- Apples -- Rave/First Kiss

The University of Minnesota’s latest apple release MN55 will be popping up in more locations this year as both First Kiss and Rave, the latter being the apple’s brand name when grown outside MN. (Photo: Business Wire)

In 2018, Minnesota apple lovers fell in love with First Kiss, the newest apple variety from the University of Minnesota’s (UMN) apple breeding program. This year there will be even more chances to experience the new Honeycrisp progeny, which is also known as Rave, both in Minnesota and beyond.

Keep your eye out for the UMN’s newest apple First Kiss (aka Rave)! It will be popping up at more orchards, farmers markets and grocery chains this year! #FirstKissApple #RaveApple #MNImpacts #NIFAImpacts #UMNResearch #UMNProud

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First Kiss made a splash during its debut at last year’s Minnesota State Fair, selling out in just a few days. While availability in 2019 will still be limited, more orchards will have trees that are mature enough to bear fruit.

“With new apples that hit the market, every year is bigger than the one before as more and more trees come into production,” explains Jim Luby, a professor and fruit breeder in the UMN’s Department of Horticultural Science, part of the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences. “More Minnesota growers have become licensed to grow First Kiss over the last year so we will continue to see more and more First Kiss hitting the market in the coming years.”

While First Kiss will primarily be for sale directly at licensed orchards throughout the state, consumers will also see more making their way into local farmers markets, grocery chains, and, of course, the Minnesota State Fair including the Minnesota Apple booth in the Ag/Hort building.

A list of licensed Minnesota orchards is available at www.mnhardy.umn.edu but consumers should be sure to call in advance to check on availability, as harvest dates vary across the state and some growers’ trees are too new to bear much fruit.

Something to Rave about

Apple lovers both in Minnesota and across the US should also be on the lookout for Rave, the brand name for the MN55 apple cultivar when grown by national licensee Stemilt Growers.

Since its release in 2017, Stemilt has carried out multiple guerilla marketing efforts to share Rave with consumers across the country. This year, the company plans to build on those efforts by taking Rave on a multi-state road trip from August 20 through Labor Day that will kick off right here in Rave’s “home” state.

“Rave is the social apple, the one that shoppers will try and rave about,” said Brianna Shales, Communications Manager at Stemilt. “Our consumer marketing work focuses on delighting and sharing. We’re excited about hitting the road with Rave, and will also be working closely with retail partners to promote Rave in a variety of ways in the stores and cities they will feature this apple in.”

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chanhassen will also join in on the fun with an apple themed family tree challenge on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in October and November. Arboretum visitors can stop by the Learning Center to sample and compare a top Minnesota variety with one of its parent varieties, hear stories about UMN developed apple varieties, and print out an apple postcard.

Stop by the Arboretum Apple House in September to take home some of your favorite varieties and apple themed gifts — they expect the Apple House to open Aug. 28.

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