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The First Kiss Apple Tree

The name “first kiss” might take you back to your younger years when you share a magical kiss under the moonlight with your crush. The First Kiss Apple tree got its name for a very good reason. It’s crisp, tart, and an apple you’ll remember and want to consume more of for years to come.

Apple tree branch with three pinkish red apples on it that closely resemble the fruit of the First Kiss Apple tree

A First Kiss Apple tree isn’t for everyone to grow, though. This article will cover why and when you’ll be able to find the First Kiss Apple. 

History of the First Kiss Apple Tree 

The First Kiss Apple tree was developed by a team, David Bedford and Jim Luby, at the University of Minnesota, also known by the acronym UMN, in the 1990s.

This apple is a cross between a Honeycrisp — which is known for its taste, juiciness, and texture — and an early bloomer from the University of Arkansas referred to as AA44. The First Kiss Apple tree is ready to harvest by Labor Day weekend, while the Honeycrisp usually isn’t ready to pick until the end of September or early November.

This creation went through years of trials conducted at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Horticultural Research Center. The apples and the tree are more resistant to heat than other varieties. 

Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics

The First Kiss Apple tree looks similar to the Honeycrisp Apple tree. It has smooth, elliptic green foliage. The tree usually reaches between 14 and 18 in height. The spread of the tree usually reaches between 12 and 15 feet once fully mature. It has white flowers that develop in March or April. 

First Kiss apples are red with splotches of green. They range in size from 2.5 to 2.75 inches in diameter. However, some of these apples have been known to get over three inches in diameter.

Closeup of a single pinkish red apple that is very similar to an apple from the First Kiss Apple tree

Planting Zones

As of now, you can’t grow this tree unless you’re a commercial grower in Minnesota. A majority of areas of Minnesota are in zones three and four. Certain parts zone five as well.

Keep on the lookout for this tree being available for commercial use. At that point, the growing area and zones will expand. You can expect the growing zones to include zones six and seven, as well as possibly zone eight and nine since these can survive in warmer climates. 

States in zone three include New York, Colorado, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Vermont.

Zones four consists of states like Maine, Iowa, New Mexico, Michigan, South Dakota, Utah, and Montana.

States in zone five are as follows: New Mexico, Virginia, Wyoming, and Washington.

In Zone 6 are Michigan, Maine, Nevada, Massachusetts.

Zone seven states include Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland.

Zones eight and nine consist of states like Florida and Texas. 

Since you can’t grow a First Kiss Apple tree without being a commercial grower, you can grow a Honeycrisp instead, which grows apples with the same unique flavor. These grow in the aforementioned planting zones.

You can check out our Honeycrisp growing guide as of now. 

How to Grow the First Kiss Apple Tree 

For someone to grow a First Kiss Apple tree, they’ll have to be a commercial grower. Before they can obtain it, they must obtain a license from the University of Minnesota.

A commercial grower or someone who is planting a First Kiss Apple will need to plant it in loam soil. The soil should also be loose and drain freely. These trees prefer soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. 

Size and Spacing

The trees prefer full sunlight to flower and produce a high amount of high-quality fruit. Since they have a rather larger canopy, you’ll need to plant them between 15 and 20 feet apart from other apple trees. When you’re growing them near other trees, you’ll need to take into consideration the spread of that tree as well. 


First Kiss Apple trees don’t require two trees to pollinate. In other words, they’re self-pollinating, and the male portion of the flower can meet the female part easily and reproduce. You could have a larger yield if you have two apple trees, though. 

Tree Care 

As mentioned, First Kiss Apple trees aren’t currently obtainable by the average person. When they do become available to the general public, you care for them just as you would a Honeycrisp Apple tree. 


These First Kiss apples grow best in direct sunlight. The fruit will be hardier and ripen fully when it receives sunlight for at least eight hours each day.

Apple tree in full sunlight with many pinkish red apples on it that are similar to the apples of a First Kiss Apple tree

In the morning, an apple tree must receive direct sunlight to dry any dew from the leaves that accrued overnight. When the dew dries completely and rapidly, the tree is less likely to develop a fungal or bacterial infection. It also will help reduce the spread of a current infection. 


The First Kiss Apple tree should be watered regularly to make sure the roots remain moist. When the weather is warmer from May to October, daily watering is often necessary.

Whether you water using a can or a house, you want to make sure to focus on the roots. Typically, you want the water to penetrate seven inches from the top of the root system down. 


You’ll need to prune the First Kiss Apple tree each year so it grows and produces fruit properly. Each pruning should begin with a thorough inspection of all the branches.

Remove any dead or diseased ones first. Lob them off at the start of the branch to remove the branch completely if you have a mature tree over the age of three. If your tree is less than three years of age, you should remove them at the stem tips, so they branch.

Additionally, you should remove any branches that are thick and hindering air circulation to the rest of the tree. 

Make sure that you never prune more than one-third of the branches during pruning to avoid killing the tree. If you need more information on how to prune, this link will give you an in-depth guide. 

Diseases & Care

The First Kiss Apple tree is also prone to certain diseases, including powdery mildew, fire blight, and black rot. You’ll need to target an infection as soon as you notice it to prevent it from spreading to the entire tree. We wrote a thorough guide to help you understand the possible infections, how to prevent them, and what to do when your tree develops one. 


Animals enjoy the sweet-tart taste of the apples, just like humans. Therefore, animals that can climb or who are tall enough to reach the branches will take them directly from the tree. Any animal who eats them will also pick the fallen apples from the ground. 

The First Kiss Apple tree is prone to aphids and mites, which will attack the leaves. Codling moths are notorious for attacking the fruit. For help in identifying and dealing with common apple tree pests, click this link.

Common Uses for the First Kiss Apple 

First Kiss apples are the perfect blend of sweet and tart, just like its predecessor — the Honeycrisp. They’re crispy, yet juicy due to having larger-than-average individual cells in their pulp. These traits make the fruit one of the top apples for eating raw. They’re also ideal for baking. 

Apple pies are a classic use for almost any type of apple, including this one. You could also make an apple crumble, sauce, tart, crumble, muffins, or cake. We have an excellent recipe for Apple Butter, as well as one for Apple Muffins. Add them into a salad, stuffing, or chicken dish. You could even make apple juice or smoothie out of them. 

Apple Oatmeal Cookies -- a great recipe idea for First Kiss Apple tree apples
Apple Oatmeal Cookies (click for the recipe).

You may want to can First Kiss apples for use in the future. Typically, canned apples last between one and two years. You can choose to can them in halves, slices, or chunks. Technically, you could remove the core and can them whole; however, you’ll find that you can’t can many of them in one jar. 

Apples can be frozen to store. You may freeze them whole, cut, or even as a sauce. They tend to last between six and nine months. Another option for long-term storage and even as a treat is drying. Usually, they last six months, as long as they’re placed in a storage bag that keeps air out. 

Health Benefits of First Kiss Apples

One apple provides numerous health benefits while remaining a low-calorie snack. Fortunately, with its high-fiber content, you stay full longer. The fiber also benefits your heart and digestive system. Apples naturally consist of pectin, which might help lower bad cholesterol levels. 

Apples also have potassium, several varieties of vitamin B, vitamin C, and magnesium. The nutrients help to boost your immune function, optimize nerve function, muscle function, and bone strength. 

For a more detailed analysis of the health benefits of apples, check out our blog

Where to Buy This Fruit Tree?

Unfortunately, the average person can’t purchase a First Kiss Apple tree as of the writing of this article. One day in the future, you’ll be able to purchase the tree, though.

In the meantime, if you want the taste of the First Kiss apple, you can purchase a Honeycrisp Apple tree. It just won’t fruit as early. You may purchase this tree at Nature Hills Nursery

Where to Buy the Fruit

You can purchase First Kiss apples in Minnesota from certain orchards. If you’re not in the area, you may find Honeycrisp apples from local orchards and grocery stores. 

Closeup of picked pinkish red apples that closely resemble the apples of the First Kiss Apple tree

Fruit Facts

While this seems cruel that the average person can’t purchase a First Kiss Apple tree yet, there are advantages of commercial growers dominating the market.

Since growers have specialized knowledge regarding growing fruit, especially considering that it generates a profit for them, you receive the highest quality of fruit when you eat these. The fruit is grown in the ideal location for the plant, especially in terms of the climate.

The commercial growers use production practices and care techniques that are known to work, which guarantees they’re of the utmost level of quality.  

The average person will be able to purchase First Kiss Apple trees in 2034. This is when the patent on the tree will expire, so the regulations will no longer be in effect. When the general public is allowed to become growing these, they must learn proper growing techniques to avoid them only bearing fruit biennially. 

Wrapping Up the First Kiss Apple Tree 

Once you have your “First Kiss,” it may just become your favorite apple. For now, you’ll have to head to Minnesota to experience them or enjoy the Honeycrisp. Fortunately, one day, when you can grow it, you’ll reap the reward of a very versatile fruit. 

Excited for more apple content? Visit our apple trees page to learn more about apple planting, growing, picking, cooking, and more!