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A New Wave of Johnny Appleseeds

1 minute read

After decades of churning out good-looking but blah-tasting apples, America’s big orchards are in the midst of a delicious transformation. New varieties are dropping faster than ever in the U.S.–about every dozen years, where it used to take 40. When the University of Minnesota released the hard, sugary Honeycrisp in the early ’90s, the nation got a taste of what apples could be if they’re bred for flavor (unlike the shiny but often mealy Red Delicious). Since then, breeders have seized on America’s prime growing conditions–sunny days, cool nights–to find the next sensation. New varieties aim to improve on the Honeycrisp; SnapDragon doesn’t succumb to as many diseases, while RubyFrost comes with amped-up levels of vitamin C and resists browning. “We get fan mail,” says Susan Brown, director of the apple-breeding program at Cornell and creator of the two new apples. Next up in the produce aisle: the tangy Cosmic Crisp from Washington State University, set to debut in 2017.

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Write to Mandy Oaklander at mandy.oaklander@time.com