Mar 26, 2021
New Minnesota apple triumphs over scab disease

The University of Minnesota’s apple breeding program has released its latest apple cultivar, MN80, to be marketed as Triumph.

MN80 has been released to nurseries for propagation, and growers can place orders for trees to plant starting in 2021.

This is the most recent variety to be released from the University of Minnesota (U of M) fruit breeding program, which was started 112 years ago. Other well-known varieties include Honeycrisp, Minneiska/SweeTango and MN55/Rave.

MN80, a cross of Honeycrisp and Liberty, produces attractive fruit with occasional stem bowl russeting. It will be ready to harvest in late September, similar to or slightly later than its parent, Honeycrisp, and is hardy to USDA zone 4, according to a university announcement.

MN80 has strong disease resistance and contains two genetic forms of resistance to apple scab, one of the most common diseases of apples, said David Bedford, a long-time apple breeder at U of M.

“One of the most interesting aspects of this variety is its strong disease resistance, as it contains two genetic forms of resistance to apple scab, which is one of the most common diseases of apples,” Bedford said. “With the continued scrutiny of chemical use in orchards, we believe that Triumph could be a useful tool to reduce the amount of chemicals used in apple production.”

Triumph has a sweet-tart balance of flavor that has been shown to be well liked by consumers. It also has a firm but crisp texture, good storage life and an attractive red over-color, Bedford said. “This variety should be a welcome addition to the apple market.”

Triumph has been released as an open variety (tree royalty only), which means growers can purchase trees directly from nurseries that are licensed to propagate and sell trees by the University of Minnesota, according to the announcement.

“While disease resistance is important, the culinary characteristics that are favored by consumers are equally important in the success of a new variety,” Bedford said.

The University of Minnesota has licensed a number of nurseries to produce and sell trees of this variety, and one of those nurseries (Cameron Nursery) has trees available for planting this spring.

Consumers will need to wait to get their first bite of Triumph as it takes several years for new trees to bear fruit. But those interested in growing their own apple trees can purchase this new variety as it becomes available at local nurseries over the next several years. Visit University of Minnesota Extension to learn more about growing apple trees in home gardens.

Extensive naming process

In September 2020, the Office for Technology and Commercialization (OTC) sent out a call for names for the apple formerly known as MN 1980 and received nearly 500 suggestions referring to everything from 2020’s biggest events to the uniqueness that is Minnesota.

According to a news release, the name the fruit breeding team and OTC ultimately selected expresses a feeling of hope and optimism that is fitting both for this new apple and for our time.

A U of M graduate student, Stephen Brockman of the Hegeman Lab, was the mastermind behind the new name.

“I chose the name ‘Triumph’ because creating a fruit cultivar of such high quality is quite literally a triumph,” Brockman said. “Years of meticulous work by many people culminating in a great achievement. It’s just as much a name as a description.”

“A big thanks to all who submitted name ideas and their passion for UMN apples,” the news release stated.

Triumph trees will be sold primarily to home consumers and small orchards, providing a more disease-resistant option to those looking to plant an apple tree in their own yard. The apples will likely be sold at orchards and farmers’ markets (not at large retailers).

A handful of Midwest growers will be planting Triumph trees this spring, with more trees available for purchase in 2022. “But don’t go searching your local farmers’ market just yet; it will be another four to five years before the new apples will be available for purchase,” the release stated.

To learn more about Triumph and other UMN apple varieties, visit Minnesota Hardy at

Licensed nurseries listed

The following nurseries are currently licensed to propagate and sell Triumph trees:

  • Cameron Nursery (WA)
  • Gold Crown Nursery (WA)
  • Moser Fruit Tree Sales (MI)
  • Bailey Nurseries (MN)
  • Adams County Nursery (PA)
  • Schlabach’s Nursery and Orchard (NY)
  • Wafler Family Orchard (NY)

This list will be updated on the Licensed Nurseries Apples Page:

Triumph has been released as an “open variety” (tree royalty only) which means growers can purchase trees directly from nurseries that are licensed by the U of M to propagate and sell Triumph apple trees. Nurseries that are interested in obtaining a license to propagate and sell Triumph should contact Technology Commercialization.

— Gary Pullano, editor

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