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Newest Minnesota-made apple may not be a star, but it’s a game changer


They don’t come along all that often, maybe one every six or seven years.

So when the University of Minnesota introduces a new apple — an apple good enough to qualify for a name — it’s a pretty big deal.

Meet Triumph (formerly known as MN1980).

This apple has more than just a racy name and a sweet-and-sour taste: It’s got a good backstory.

It was designed to be more resistant to one of the most pernicious diseases in the fruit world — apple scab. The common disease doesn’t kill the trees, but it does deface the fruit, so much so that it can’t be sold.

“You can eat apples with scab if you close your eyes,” said David Bedford, senior research fellow with the U’s department of horticulture science.

Because it has two distinct genes that fight apple scab, Triumph was considered a triumph over the disease. (Get it?)

Bedford, who’s been an apple breeder at the U for 41 years, admits his newest introduction isn’t likely to reach the heights of other hort department debuts, suchg as Honeycrisp (the No. 1 apple in America), or have the star power of SweeTango.

But that’s OK with Bedford, who compares the apples he’s helped create to children, each of which has its own potential.

While a “niche” apple, it’s one designed to appeal to organic growers because it needs fewer chemicals to grow successfully. It also signals something of a sea change in apple production.

“The whole industry is trying to use fewer chemicals,” he said. “To be able to contribute to that makes it all worthwhile, even if it’s not going to be another Honeycrisp.”

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Bedford describes the taste of Triumph as sweeter than a Harralson, but tarter than a Honeycrisp. “A litttle bit more like a SweeTango,” one of the U’s more recent apple introductions.

So when do the rest of us get a taste of Triumph?

Well, it’s going to be a while.

Trees should be available for growers in 2022 or 2023, he said. Specialty growers might have apples a few years after that. But “it won’t show up at Cub Foods for six to eight years,” he estimated.

But perhaps we shouldn’t be in such a hurry.

It took about 30 years to develop Triumph, from breeding to release, said Bedford.

What’s that saying about good things coming to those who wait?

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