First and Fresh – Minnesota’s Apple Season Starts in August

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Early season Minnesota Grown apples available at orchards, grocery stores, and farmers markets in mid-August. Visit for locations.

SAINT PAUL, Minn., Aug. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Move over pumpkin spice lattes! Early season apples are the real first taste of fall, and they’re starting to be available at orchards, grocery stores, and farmers markets across Minnesota. Varieties such as First Kiss®, SweeTango®, Zestar!®, and RiverBelle are some of the best tasting and more popular varieties, and are available for picking up to four weeks sooner than Minnesota’s most famous apple, Honeycrisp.

Apple picking at local orchards is a Minnesota tradition, and despite dry weather throughout the state, this year growers are looking forward to big yields and large crowds. Information and locations for local orchards can be found by visiting

“Orchard owners across the state are ready for everyone to enjoy this year’s crop,” says Rachel Wandrei, marketing manager for Minnesota Grown at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “Mother Nature throws growers challenges every year, but rest assured that delicious local apples will be ready to eat starting in August.”

If you can’t visit your local orchards, Minnesota Grown apples are available at grocery stores and farmers markets – and the Minnesota State Fair. Those planning a trip to the Great Minnesota Get-Together can stop by the Ag-Horticulture Building to grab their “First Kiss” of the season.

Available from mid-August through early-September, keep your eyes peeled for local apples including the four varieties below:

First Kiss® – The newest University of Minnesota (UMN) early season variety is a Honeycrisp cross available up to four weeks before Honeycrisp ripens. It’s an incredibly crisp, lightly tart, and aromatic apple. Excellent storage life of up to five months.

Zestar!® – This apple is typically the second early season apple to ripen, and offers a delicate crispness, juicy texture, and zesty flavor with a hint of brown sugar. Developed by UMN and introduced in 1999, this apple has a crisp texture and good storage life – up to two months in the refrigerator.

SweeTango® – A Honeycrisp-Zestar! cross, this apple is known for its sweet and tart flavor. Developed by UMN and first available in 2009, SweeTango apples have explosive flavor, crisp texture, and juiciness in every bite.

RiverBelle – A sweet and tart apple with a fruity flavor makes a crisp eating apple. RiverBelle apples grow in the Mississippi River valley of Minnesota and Wisconsin. This unique, orange-flecked apple was developed by Doug Shefelbine in collaboration with the Mississippi Valley Fruit Co.

For over 35 years, Minnesota Grown has helped connect customers with local farmers. The Minnesota Grown Directory includes more than 140 orchards and more than 170 farmers markets around the state. Find an orchard near you at You’ll also find the Minnesota Grown logo at grocery stores offering locally grown apples and other products.


The Minnesota Grown Program is a statewide partnership between the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota producers of specialty crops and livestock. For over 35 years, the program has created consumer awareness of Minnesota Grown products, increased demand for Minnesota Grown products and connected buyers and sellers. Participants in the program are a diverse group of farmers and processors, including farmers markets, nurseries and garden centers, apple orchards, berry farms, Christmas tree farms, honey producers, maple syrup producers, livestock producers, wineries, and CSA farms (community supported agriculture). For more information, visit

Contact: Megan Anderson, Bellmont Partners                                                 

612-423-0335, [email protected]

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SOURCE Minnesota Grown

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