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U of M's newest apple, the 'First Kiss,' will be available this fall

It's related to the university's famous Honeycrisp.

Are you ready for your First Kiss?

That's what the University of Minnesota is asking ahead of the release of the newest apple developed by its apple breeding team.

Called "First Kiss" and produced by Minnesota orchards, the apple is similar to the Honeycrisp with one major difference – it's ready for harvest before Labor Day weekend.

The apple will be harvested in mid-to-late August, up to four weeks earlier than its famous parent, and should be available for consumers this fall.

The First Kiss dates back to the late '90s, the U of M says, when apple breeders David Bedford and Jim Luby set out to create an apple with the texture and taste of the Honeycrisp with an earlier harvest.

To do this, they crossed a Honeycrisp with an early ripening apple variety from the University of Arkansas, the "AA44."

After "years of rigorous trials" at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Horticultural Research Center, the First Kiss was finally perfected.

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It offers the "best of both worlds," said Bedford, a research scientist at the U. "Its crisp texture and spritely flavor make it an excellent choice for fresh eating and its early harvest date means Minnesota apple lovers can enjoy their favorite Minnesota grown fruit sooner than ever."

The U of M described the scarlet red apple as having a "lively, tart flavor." Its initial run will be limited, but the U says it should increase its supply over the next few years.

It's the 27th apple variety developed by the U of M since 1878, of which 18 are still grown and available today.

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