Apple enthusiasts got their first taste of the First Kiss apple, the newest apple variety from the University of Minnesota’s breeding program, at the 2018 Minnesota State Fair.
Although access to the apple is still limited, more Minnesota orchards have trees bearing fruit this fall.
In the St. Croix Valley, Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater as well as Afton Apple Orchard and Whistling Well Farm in Hastings carry the First Kiss apple in stores.
First Kiss is also sold under its brand name, Rave, which is exclusively grown by Stemilt Growers.
Chris Aamodt, owner of Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, said he sources his First Kiss apples from a farm in La Crescent, Minn. This is Aamodt’s second season selling First Kiss but hurry in, as they’ll likely run out soon.
First Kiss apples aren’t quite as sweet as their parent apple, the Honeycrisp. Like Honeycrisps, First Kiss apples are hard to grow, Aamodt said.
“Honeycrisp — it’s very temperamental to where it’s being planted, not just in our orchard but in the country,” he said. “It needs a certain amount of warm days and warm nights.”
The plus side of First Kiss apples is they ripen a few weeks earlier than Honeycrisp in late August. Unlike some other early season apples, Aamodt said First Kiss also stores well.
“The only downfall is they’re very expensive,” Aamodt said.
Although First Kiss trees are available commercially, Aamodt said the waiting list is years out.
On top of that, apple trees don’t bear fruit for several years after they are planted. The First Kiss apples on the market now were grown on trees planted five to seven years ago at orchards the University of Minnesota picked to grow First Kiss during the research phase, Aamodt said.
“These apples are going to be scarce for the next couple of years,” he said.