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The Rave Apple Tree

The Rave Apple tree is one of the newest apple cultivars to become commonly available throughout North America. This variety of apple only recently hit the markets in 2017.

Closeup of bright, red apples that closely resemble the fruit from the rare Rave Apple tree.

The Rave Apple tree is a hybrid cross between the University of Minnesota’s Honeycrisp Apple tree and a non-patented Apple cultivar from Arkansas known as the MonArk Apple tree. One standout feature of this apple tree is that the fruit is ready to pick as early as July.

Whether you’re looking to get some information on growing your own Rave Apples, or you just want to find the best recipes for this particular cultivar, our guide is going to have you covered with everything you need to know about the Rave Apple tree. 

History of the Rave Apple Tree

The Rave Apple tree was developed by David Bedford and Dr. James Luby of the University of Minnesota’s Apple breeding program. In more scientific terms, this is known as the MN55 Apple.

This apple was created by crossbreeding the classic Honeycrisp and a non-patented variety of Apple from Arkansas and known as the MonArk which is also known by its more scientific name the AA44. 

The first apple of this particular cultivar to be grown was planted in 1997.  It took nearly 20 years of work to get this apple from its earliest stages to being commercially available. The Rave Apple only hit the market in 2017.

This is an officially licensed apple cultivar from the University of Minnesota. This means that finding Rave Apple trees to grow on your own might be extremely difficult. However, these apples are now widely available in stores throughout the United States.

Rave Apple trees are currently most commonly grown in the state of Arkansas. Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of this particular apple tree. 

Rave Apple Tree Characteristics

The Rave Apple tree takes after its parents. It draws on the Honeycrisp’s flavor and size while taking after other qualities of the MonArk Apple.

One of the most sought-after characteristics of this apple tree is that it produces fruit in the summer. Rave Apple trees can start producing fruit as early as July and are typically ready for harvest sometime between August and September. This makes them a much earlier season apple than many of the other common apple cultivars out there today.

These apple trees can also range from 10 to 15 feet in height. This is another characteristic that these apple trees take after the Honeycrisp. There is one thing that we need to keep in mind about the Rave Apple.

Closeup of a branch of a Honeycrisp apple tree with a single red Honeycrisp apple on it with out of focus trees in the background.
Branch of a Honeycrisp apple tree.

This is a relatively new cultivar which means that there is still a lot that needs to be learned in terms of how this apple can be grown and taken care of. Since it only hit commercial viability in 2017, we’re only starting to see what it looks like when we grow Rave Apple trees throughout North America.

This guide will get you up to speed on everything you need to know about this apple cultivar. 

Planting Zones 

Our guide on how to grow apple trees can get you up to speed for everything you need to know to become the next world class apple orchardist. However, if you’re looking for the quick details to get started, this guide is what you need.

The Rave Apple tree is zone 4a hardy. This means that the sample is going to do great in most northern American climates as well as Canadian regions. 

Size and Spacing

The Rave Apple tree is similar in nature to the Honeycrisp Apple tree. This means you’re going to want to leave a good amount of spacing between this apple tree and its neighbors. This ensures that the trees do not overcrowd each other and that there is plenty of room for them to grow and spread out.

Pollination

Here’s a fun fact about apples and pollination. Even self-pollinating apples that do not typically require a pollinator can do better in the presence of other apple trees. Even though pollination is optional for some apple cultivars, it typically creates an environment that means a better yield and an earlier harvest. 

Rave Apple Tree Care

What we can learn about taking care of the Rave Apple tree comes from its close relationship to the Honeycrisp. Since this apple tree is a hybrid of the Honeycrisp, many of its care tips are going to be identical.

Sunlight

This is a full sunlight apple tree. Your Rave Apples are going to want to have 6 to 8 hours of exposure to sunlight everyday. This means evenly spacing them so they don’t overcrowd each other and making sure they’re not planted too close to other large objects such as bigger trees and buildings.

Watering

Just like a Honeycrisp, the Rave Apple tree does best in low to moderate moisture soil once it’s been established. As these trees are being established, they require a higher amount of water in order to take root in their new environment.

Pruning 

Our guide on pruning apple trees will give you everything you need to know in order to take the best care of your tree and ensure a bountiful harvest. This quick cut will give you the basics.

You want to prune your apple trees before they blossom and as late and winter as you can. This is typically towards the end of winter or the beginning of spring depending on the cultivar that you have. Pruning your apple tree helps to ensure a strong harvest as well as give you the opportunity to control how the tree is growing. 

Diseases & Care 

This tree is a very new cultivar. This means that it hasn’t had too many years of exposure to all of the diseases that other apple trees routinely face. We know that this apple tree has an average susceptibility to apple scab. However, there is not much documentation about how this apple tree can withstand other diseases such as fire blight

Pests 

Because this cultivar is so new, what we know about how it handles pests is still very limited. It’s safe to assume that this apple tree will be similar to the Honeycrisp and have an average susceptibility to a wide range of pests. This means that these apple trees might benefit from spraying in order to stay pest free. 

Man wearing protective gear spraying apple  orchard trees in bloom.
Agricultural worker in a apple orchard spraying pesticide.

Common Uses For The Rave Apple Tree 

The Rave Apple is a very new cultivar. It’s still finding its niche out there in the world of apple cooking. However, there are plenty of ways to use the sample and exciting new recipes that you can try out today. 

What Does The Rave Apple Taste Like?

This apple has a tart and aromatic flavor. It was specifically designed to offer one of the best raw eating experiences out of many contemporary apple cultivars. The sample has the same snap of the Honeycrisp, but also features a unique aromatic experience that will ensure that the apple is delicious from the first bite to the last. 

Cooking

The Rave Apple gets really interesting when we consider how we can cook it.

These samples were designed to be eaten raw. Their flavor is delicious when fresh and their flesh is ideal for eating right off the branch. The Rave Apple is also a little tricky to cook. The same characteristics that make its flesh ideal for eating raw also make it difficult to bake or fry.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t cook the Rave apple. It just means that we need to be a little creative and think outside the box when we’re cooking with these kinds of apples. 

Eating Raw

This is where the Rave apple shines.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota specifically designed the Rave Apple to be eaten raw. The Flesh of this fruit has a great bite and it’s vibrant flavor is best when eaten as fresh as possible. If you’re looking for a new tart apple to have in your raw snacking rotation, the Rave apple is an ideal choice for everyone.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

The flesh of the Rave Apple is very fragile. Drying or freezing might break down the flesh of this apple too much to make it useful for other recipes down the road. However, if you’re looking to turn this apple into apple butter or an apple jam it might be a great choice for canning.

Rave Apple Recipes That Will Keep the Party Going! 

Rave Apples do not stand up well to cooking. The flesh of the sample is very fragile and breaks down extremely quickly if you try to bake or sautee these apples. This doesn’t mean that you can’t cook with them. It only means that they require a special touch when being incorporated into recipes.

Salads are a great option of four apples like the Rave Apple. This recipe for Sweet Cinnamon Apple Salad is a great choice for a health-conscious dessert alternative. Our recipe for Apple Chicken Salad is another great choice for people who want to do a little bit more with the Rave Apple. 

Closeup of Apple Cabbage Coleslaw -- a great recipe for using the fruit of the Rave Apple tree.
Amazing Apple Cabbage Coleslaw (click for the recipe).

Health Benefits of the Rave Apple Tree 

The Rave Apple has a variety of health benefits that are commonly shared among other apple cultivars. This is a food that is low in calories and high in nutrients. Apples are particularly high in vitamin C which helps with the immune system as well as digestion. These apples are also full of antioxidants and phytochemicals which have been linked to improved outcomes for heart health, cancer, and diabetes. 

Where To Buy The Rave Apple Tree ?

Here’s where things get a little tricky with the Rave Apple tree.

Rave Apples are a very new cultivar. This means that they fall under new market standards as well as regulations. Rave Apples, along with a few other recent cultivars, are what are known as “club apples.”

They’re called club apples not because you can get them on a fun night out at the club, but because you have to be part of a preselected club of orchardists in order to be able to grow these apples. Currently, there is only one farming company that grows Rave Apples. The Stemilt Growers company is the only farming company that is currently growing this cultivar for commercial use. 

If you’re looking to grow your own, you’re going to have to break into the apple business. If that doesn’t sound like a viable solution for you, you can always try waiting. Plenty of apple cultivars start their life as exclusive varieties that are only grown by a select few. Over time, if these apples become successful, or fade from the public view, they tend to become more openly available.

No matter which way you look at it, the Rave Apple tree is going to be a tricky one to grow on your own. 

Where To Buy The Rave Apple 

Here’s some good news for everyone looking to try a Rave Apple.

These apples are currently available all throughout the United States. Because this apple cultivar produces fruit in the summer, you can typically find fresh Rave Apples throughout the country earlier in the season than you can for other cultivars.

Closeup of shiny, red picked apples that closely resemble the fruit of the Rave Apple tree.

Unless a local orchard is ordering these in, you won’t be able to find any Rave Apples at an apple orchard near you. These are currently exclusively shipped to produce retailers all across the United States. They can be found in specialty shops as well as your standard grocery store.

Wrapping up The Rave Apple Tree 

The real apple tree is the most recent member of a long history of creating new apple cultivars. The Rave Apple was designed for its flexible and vibrant taste as well as being ready for harvest much earlier in the season than other types of apples. Well you might not be able to grow your own Rave Apples just yet, but you can still enjoy their delicious taste when they start popping up in your local store.

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