Good Fruit Grower

December 2015

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80 DECEMBER 2015 Good Fruit Grower W hat began as a seed of desire to follow in his father's and grandfather's foot- steps has led Chuck Nystrom to find a new apple variety that may become the next big winner for apple growers and consumers alike. The apple, originally named the B51, was "found" by Nystrom in the early 90s and is gaining ground in the development and testing phases to becoming commercially available. "Only God creates it; I found it," Nystrom said of the apple now being marketed as SugarBee exclusively through Chelan Fresh in Washington State. "I plant the seeds and take care of them." Nystrom, owner and manager of Ocheda Orchard in Worthington, Minnesota, has known apples his entire life. As a young child he spent time at his grandfather's orchard nearby. Then when his father, Donald Nystrom, decided to branch out and start his very own orchard, Chuck was right there alongside him in the endeavor. "In 1965 my dad planted the first trees," said Nystrom, 65. "I skipped school to help him plant." He said those first trees were the traditional apples grown in Minnesota—the "Minnesota standbys," as he calls them. Though he doesn't remember what exactly they planted, he does remember planting Fireside and the sport Connell Red, in particular. Even as a teenager he loved farming and wanted to farm for the rest of his life. Yet it was the encouragement of his father to go to college and have another plan just in case. This led him to the very place that developed those "Minnesota standbys" such as the Connell Red/Fireside and Red Haralson—the University of Minnesota. By the time he finished earning a degree in agricul- tural engineering, Nystrom was back on the farm in 1972 and learning everything he could about the business, the industry, and the farm his dad had begun just a few years earlier. It was at an apple grower tour/meeting in the mid- 1980s that Nystrom met and began talking to a fellow SugarBee causes a BUZZ The variety was developed in Minnesota from open-pollinated Honeycrisp. by Andrea Nelson COURTESY OF ANDREA NELSON The future looks promising for SugarBee, which has a mild, sweet flavor and stores well.

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