Upsetting the apple cart: Chilean-grown Honeycrisps arrive in spring

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You might be surprised to find fresh Honeycrisp apples at a grocery store soon. Wait a minute--don't apples get picked in autumn?

The Honeycrisp variety may have its roots in Minnesota, but these will come from orchards in South America.The Business Journal reports that you'll be able to get your Honeycrisp a day because the first-ever crop grown in Chile is en route to the U.S.

Growers there have spent the past decade perfecting the popular variety. Westcott Agri Products Inc. of Elgin, Minnesota, has exclusive rights for the Chilean production of the Honeycrisp and will be the first company to provide a year-round supply to its American retailers.

How do you like them apple prices? Honeycrisp can fetch $100 a case for wholesale, compared to $30 for Gala apples and $20 for Braeburn. The Packer, an industry trade publication, said that Honeycrisps grown in Chile will be a size or a size and a half smaller than what consumers are accustomed to. That's partly due to the weather way down south, but also because the producing trees are young. Apple size could double within two years.

The Honeycrisp apple was developed by University of Minnesota researcher David Bedford, who has traveled to Chile to see the orchards. The Business Journal story said the Honeycrisps are clearly the apple of the scientist's eye, nothing that he speaks of them "...like he would his children, so he's concerned that some domestic and international growers aren't properly caring for the variety and may harm public perception of the apple." The variety can be tricky to produce, but Bedford said Chilean growers have done a good job.

"The ones I tried down there are good," Bedford said. "Slightly different than ours, but still in the good category."

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