SweeTango no rotten deal

The Minnesota Daily Editorial Board created misconceptions about the U’s latest apple.

Horace Greeley, the famous American editor, reportedly said, “I would not live in Minnesota because you can’t grow apples there.” University of Minnesota researchers proved Greeley wrong by developing such popular Minnesota grown apples as Honeycrisp, Zestar®, Haralson, Fireside, Regent, Zestar, SnowSweet and SweeTango®. The University has released 27 varieties of apples and our trees now account for about 80 percent of the apples grown in Minnesota. GreeleyâÄôs misstatement about apples came to mind while reading the Minnesota Daily editorial in the Wednesday, Sept. 23 issue. The editorial creates misconceptions about the opportunity for Minnesota apple farmers to grow and sell the SweeTango® apple The facts are clear. The university decided to license SweeTango® to Pepin Heights Orchards after a lengthy consultative process that included the leadership of the Minnesota Apple Growers Association. Contrary to the claims made in the editorial, the agreement provides all Minnesota growers access to this new variety. There are 50,000 trees available to independent Minnesota apple growers and these growers can sell the SweeTango® apples that they grow to both wholesale and retail markets. Minnesota apple growers are taking advantage of this opportunity. To date, 87 of MinnesotaâÄôs 108 apple growers have purchased trees and can sell SweeTango® apples. The apple breeding program is part of a larger plant breeding program that has developed more than 800 plant varieties of apples, grapes, strawberries, flowers, grains, grasses, soybeans and other agricultural crops. These plant varieties improve MinnesotaâÄôs economy, provide new options for growers and help supply consumer demand for plants that will thrive in MinnesotaâÄôs climate. As with other commercial products the U develops, SweeTango® not only helps fund apple research and development, but revenue from it also helps fund scholarships for U of M students. The university has long been committed to developing and providing plant varieties that serve the interests of Minnesota growers and the people of Minnesota. We will continue to work with apple growers and others to assure that our research, education and outreach meets their needs. Daily readers who wish to support Minnesota apple growers have plenty of opportunities to do so. I encourage you to buy Minnesota grown apples at a farm stand, a farmers’ market or a grocery store. In the grocery store, be sure to look for the Minnesota Grown sign next to the apples or ask your grocer to verify where they were grown. That way you can be sure you are buying a great tasting apple that was grown in Minnesota.