|James Kohut, Staff Writer|
It's harvest time across the North, that fabulous (not to mention delicious) time of the year when we reap the rewards of our hard work and efforts in our vegetable gardens and home orchards. And what fruit is more symbolic of a bountiful harvest in the North than the highly esteemed apple? It's hardy, it's easy to grow, it produces abundantly, and the fruit is so tasty and versatile!
As each year goes by, more and more high quality apple cultivars are developed for northern climates, to the point where they are matching up to the quality of their more recognized southern counterparts that one finds on the supermarket shelves. One relatively recent introduction has received rave reviews both from professional growers and from home gardeners. Without a doubt, the Honeycrisp apple is one of the most popular apples in the North.
This fine apple was developed by the University of Minnesota's prestigious apple breeding program, which has such successes as Haralson, State Fair and Fireside to its credit. It produces large red fruit with excellent flavor, amazing crispness and juiciness. The fruit is great for eating fresh, and will keep for more than half a year. The tree is resistant to many common apple afflictions, and is ideal for the home orchard. Honeycrisp is perfectly hardy in zone 4, and is being evaluated in zone 3, with a good deal of success so far.
All apples like rich, deep soil which is relatively neutral, although they are in truth quite adaptable. One thing they don't enjoy is standing water, so make sure they are planted in a well-drained location. The trees will eventually grow quite large, so leave lots of room for spread and air movement. As with all fruit trees, be prepared for higher maintenance than with ornamental trees, including the odd insect and disease problem. This time of year, though, it will all seem worth it when the fragrance of hot apple pie wafts through the house!
(photo courtesy of the University of Minnesota)