The University of Minnesota is home to one of the oldest continuous fruit breeding programs in North America. We develop fruit cultivars that are adapted to the vagaries of the continental climate of our region—temperatures that range from 100° F in the summer to -40° F in the winter, and precipitation that can vary dramatically from year to year.
The University of Minnesota fruit breeding program was initiated in 1878 as a response to the settlers’ need for sources of fresh, canned, and dried fruits to provide essential variety and nutrition in their diet. The breeding program was charged with developing winter-hardy fruit varieties that would produce reliably on farmsteads. As a result, nearly 100 varieties of apples, plums, grapes, strawberries, raspberries and other fruits have been introduced since the 1920s.
Today, the fruit breeding program remains comprehensive, with substantial efforts to develop commercial varieties of apple, grape, strawberry, and blueberry. Our goal is to develop winter-hardy, disease-resistant cultivars that bear high quality fruit at commercially profitable levels in our region.