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University of Minnesota apple variety known nationally as 'Rave' (TM) and sold by Minnesota growers as 'First Kiss' (TM). Released in 2016, it was known during testing as MN #1955 following a cross in 1996 between Honeycrisp and MonArk. Ripens late August in Minnesota. Other characteristics are a beautiful bright red skin that nearly covers a yellow background and an inside with crisp, fine white flesh. Rave/First Kiss is outrageously juicy with a refreshing snappy zing. It is a product os Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station project #21-016, "Breeding and Genetics of Fruit Crops for Cold Climates," principal investigator: James J. Luby. David Bedford: scientist, apple breeder. (Photographed at Pine Tree Orchard, White Bear Lake, MN) ('Rave' is licensed nationally to Stemilt Growers LLC)

The University of Minnesota apple variety MN55 harvests in mid-to-late August. Courtesy University of Minnesota, David L. Hansen

The same apple breeding team that brought Honeycrisp to market is releasing a new cultivar this year. First Kiss, the brand name for apples grown in Minnesota from the University of Minnesota’s MN55 variety, will be ready to harvest in mid-to-late August, according to a news release. That’s up to four weeks earlier than its parent Honeycrisp.

First Kiss is the 27th apple to be released by the breeding program, but it’s the first time the university is using a separate brand name for apples grown in Minnesota. MN55 apples grown outside the state will be marketed and sold as Rave as part of an exclusive license agreement with Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, Washington.

MN55 is a cross between Honeycrisp and an early ripening variety from the University of Arkansas known as AA44. The apple’s characteristics include a scarlet red coloring and lively, tart flavor.

The complete news release with a video as well as more information about the University of Minnesota breeding program are available at https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/umn-plant-breeders-introduce-first-kiss-apple