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Gov. Pawlenty with the Honeycrisp bill

Gov. Tim Pawlenty displays the newly signed bill proclaiming the Honeycrisp the official state fruit to a cheering audience at Andersen Elementary School. University horticulturist David Bedford (in gray suit) stands to the governor's left.

Minnesota-you know, the Honeycrisp State

The Honeycrisp apple, one of many varieties developed by University horticulturists, becomes the official Minnesota state fruit

By Deane Morrison

June 7, 2006

Now that the dust has settled on the 2006 legislative session, here's a juicy but tasteful story that emerged from it: On May 24, surrounded by cheering pupils in the gymnasium of Andersen Elementary School in Bayport, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed legislation designating the Honeycrisp apple as the offical state fruit of Minnesota. Among the attendees were University horticulturist David Bedford, one of the breeders who developed the Honeycrisp; pupils from Lauren Avery's 2004-05 fourth-grade class at Andersen, who started the drive for the legislation and lobbied hard for it; and the Senate and House sponsors of the bill, Sen. Brian LeClair and Rep. Mike Charron. "It's quite a thrill," says Bedford, who bred the Honeycrisp with University horticulture professor Jim Luby. "After 30 years in development and 15 years on the market, Honeycrisp has enjoyed a very favorable response, but this is the most meaningful of all." Known for its explosive crispness, juiciness, and flavor, Honeycrisp began in 1960, when breeders crossed two apple varieties-Macoun and Honeygold-as part of a program to develop high-quality, winter-hardy fruits. A Honeycrisp can be recognized by either its distinctive mottling of red on a yellow background or by the ecstatic expressions on the faces of apple eaters. "I like them a lot. They're my favorite apple," says Andersen fifth-grader Madeline Sova, who is one of the core (ahem) group of pupils who spearheaded the project. Honeycrisps grow on a million trees worldwide, but they are only the latest success story from the University's fruit breeding program. The roots of the program reach back to its establishment by the state 100 years ago; since then, it has resulted in more than 100 new varieties. Among the other apples to fall from University trees are the Fireside, Regent, State Fair, Honeygold, Zestar and Haralson. Haralsons, the most popular apples in the state for five decades, recently ceded that title to Honeycrisp.

Read more about the Honeycrisp.

See a photo of a Honeycrisp here.

Listen to a Minnesota Moment radio spot on the Honeycrisp.