‘Honeycrisp’ was originally believed to be a cross of ‘Macoun’ and ‘Honeygold,’ thanks to information on the University of Minnesota apple breeding program’s records. However, researchers discovered those varieties were not the parents. Nick Howard, a graduate student with the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Applied Plant Sciences, used DNA sequencing to get to the bottom of the popular apple’s lineage.
A study in 2004 confirmed that ‘Honeycrisp’ was not the child of ‘Macoun’ and ‘Honeygold’ but suggested ‘Keepsake’ was a parent. However, the study lacked enough genetic information to uncover the other parent or confirm ‘Keepsake.’
Using the extensive genetic data available through RosBREED, Howard was able to learn more about ‘Honeycrisp’s’ origins, and his work was recently published in Nature’s Horticulture Research. His research confirmed that ‘Keepsake’ was a parent of ‘Honeycrisp.’ It also showed that an unreleased University of Minnesota variety that is no longer available, ‘MN1627’ was the other parent.
Howard also identified the ‘Duchess of Oldenburg’ and ‘Golden Delicious’ varieties as the parents of ‘MN1627.’