MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Apple fans in Minnesota will soon be able to find a favorite apple in grocery stores year-round.

The Honeycrisp apple has come a long way from its humble beginnings here in Minnesota. When the apple was first introduced in 1991, University of Minnesota researchers only produced a three-week supply. Now, Honeycrisp is the No. 1 desired apple in America.

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“When you find a winner, you stick with it,” research scientist and Honeycrisp breeder David Bedford said.

Spring usually means Honeycrisp apples fans must do without their favorite fruit. But Bedford says researchers found a way to have the popular apple available all year.

“The real solution to that is to have some fresh ones from the southern hemisphere,” said Bedford.

Bedford says the patent on the apple has expired, but the university still has rights over international production. So, university researchers helped develop orchards in South America to deal with the demand. The apples are now grown in Chile and New Zealand.

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“Most people won’t pick up a Chilean Honeycrisp and say ‘oh, what is that?’ They’ll say ‘oh, Honeycrisp,'” Bedford said.

Bedford returned recently from Chile.

“Some very nice orchards of Honeycrisp that are coming into baring some beautiful fruit and it looked very encouraging,” Bedford said.

Bedford says the apples are hard to grow, but Chilean farmers have figured it out and just in time. The shipment of 200,000 bushels of Honeycrisps from Chile is expected to arrive in Minnesota this week.

Although Honeycrisp will soon be available in Minnesota year round, it may take a while before that happens across the country. Ten million trees have been planted, but more are needed to meet the demand.

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It could take between 5 and 8 years before Honeycrisps are available year round in every market.

Reg Chapman