I was happy to see Minnesota's spectacular contribution to the apple world, the Honeycrisp, on the shelf at the grocery store here in Tucson. I bought a dozen, and they won't last long. They were only $1.99 per pound, which is one dollar less than they were in stores following harvest two years ago.

This is the first world-famous apple variety which we will be able to grow in northern Minnesota. Although the Honeycrisp is rated Zone 4, I have heard that the University of Minnesota is considering classifying it Zone 3 (our zone in Northwest Minnesota) due to the tree's good performance at Grand Rapids and other points north.

Now, planting an orchard in our area is simply not going to be a profitable venture. The one-in-twenty years cold spell will probably wipe out the whole works, as happened at our nursery in 1996. We lost at least a couple of dozen mature, producing trees that winter, including the hardy Haralson.

Yet, with the market for Honeycrisp exploding, it is tempting to put in a few trees. The next trick is getting ahold of them. We are on back order for our trees for spring. Commercial growers are the culprits--they are snapping up the tree as fast as they can be reproduced. According to the U of M, which collects royalties on every tree, there are about 1.3 million Honeycrisp trees growing around the world, and that number is growing fast.