Two apples developed by the University of Minnesota for Far-North growers are proving to be so good that gardeners farther south should include them in their fruit gardens.
'Honeycrisp' (introduced in 1991) is a sweet and flavorful red apple with spectacularly crisp texture. It will keep five months in cold storage.
'Sweet Sixteen' (introduced in 1978) is a tart-sweet red apple with creamy yellow flesh and a heady anise flavor. It's excellent for both fresh eating and cooking. It's scab resistant, too.
"Both are very high quality and are the only varieties out of the Minnesota program that are worth growing south of USDA Zone 4," says Tom Vorbeck, an apple grower and expert. Vorbeck has grown and taste-tested hundreds of different apples. He recommends both of these as far south as zone 6, but cautions that both varieties only develop strong red color when the nights are cool. In zones 5 and 6, the color is often a blotchy red over a yellow-green background. The flavor, however, is excellent.