COVID-19 Update: All members and visitors need to make a reservation in advance of their visit to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Find updates and information here.
By Susie Eaton Hopper
Looking for an apple tree for your yard? The 28th University of Minnesota apple release might be just the ticket.
It’s named Triumph™ and is the progeny of the all-time best-selling University of Minnesota variety ‘Honeycrisp,’ and ‘Liberty.’ This apple took 30 years to premiere from start to finish at the Arboretum’s Horticultural Research Center (HRC), according to HRC apple breeder David Bedford.
Its magic power is that it is apple scab resistant, incorporating two genes to fight the fungus that deforms fruit skin. Honeycrisp, for example, has only one. That may not sound like a huge deal, but apple scab makes apples less desirable and is a common reason growers spray apples with chemicals. Two genes gives this tree a better firewall against this common apple problem, Bedford says. “This apple is an environmental improvement,” Bedford adds.
Triumph™ will be a useful apple for organic growers and for home growers, plus consumers will benefit from apples with fewer, if any, chemical sprays. So the name Triumph™ does describe some part of this new tree, as it is a triumph over apple scab, Bedford says.
The name was one of over 500 submitted to the University of Minnesota last year in response to a call to help name the newest University of Minnesota apple introduction. Graduate student Stephen Brockman came up with the winning moniker. “I chose the name ‘Triumph’ because creating a fruit cultivar of such high quality is quite literally a triumph,” Brockman explains. “Years of meticulous work by many people, culminating in a great achievement. It’s just as much a name as a description.”
Bedford says there were a dozen or so great finalist names, but many of them didn’t pass the trademark test necessary to become a commercial name. Triumph™ hit all the right notes.
Of course no University of Minnesota apple would reign supreme without great taste. “It’s not as crisp as Honeycrisp, but it has a firm, juicy texture,” Bedford says. He describes it as having a nice sweet tart balance, perhaps not as intense as SweeTango; it could be compared to a sweeter Haralson, another University stalwart.
Known in the HRC growing plots as #MN 80, this variety has not been sold at the Arboretum AppleHouse yet, Bedford says. As with all new University of Minnesota apple releases, there is “a tree lag, then a fruit lag” that consumers need to understand, he says, so it’ll likely take a few years before you’ll be biting into one of these winter-hardy wonders.
For consumers eager to get a tree or two, there will be limited availability in local garden centers in 2022. There will be many Triumph™ planted at the HRC this spring. Then in three or four years, expect them to show up at the Applehouse and at farmer’s markets in the area. Or in your own backyard, as they grow and mature. For more information about UMN apples and apple growing, visit mnhardy.umn.edu.