Minnesota's SweeTango Apple: Colorful, Crisp and Controversial

Today’s post starts off with a riddle:

What’s “juicy and sweet with hints of fall spices,” "a satisfying crunch,” and a name that sounds like a segment of  “Dancing with the Stars?”

If you guessed SweeTango, the newest apple cultivar created by the University of Minnesota, you are correct!
SweeTango: Is it worth the trouble?SweeTango: Is it worth the trouble?

Since its Labor Day weekend debut, SweeTango has caused a buzz among apple eaters and growers. But it’s not just the taste that has people talking.

This apple comes with controversy because of the way the U of M has licensed it.

With previous releases, like the Honeycrisp, any orchard that could afford the licensing fee could buy the rights to grow and sell it. But over the years, this has led to quality control issues that were out of the U’s control.

So the U has granted exclusive licensing to Minnesota’s largest apple orchard, Pepin Heights, which will enforce strict limits on the number of trees sold, as well as the location of the orchards they're sold to.

Representatives from Pepin Heights and the U say by limiting the release of SweeTango, they can control the quality of their precious commodity.

But Minnesota's smaller apple growers, who are limited to 1,000 trees and can only sell their fruit at roadside stands or farmers’ markets, are complaining that this unprecedented licensing arrangement excludes them from sharing the wealth.

Considering that the U is a public, land-grant university, do the apple growers have a point? Can the U exert this much control over a product developed with tax-payer support?

At the same time, can you blame the U for being cautious not to repeat the mistakes made with the distribution of Honeycrisp, which became a victim of its own success?

What do you think? Should the U be less restrictive about who gets to grow and sell SweeTango? Or are they right to keep its distribution under tighter control?

And, finally, is all the fuss worth it? Have you tasted SweeTango yet? Is it as good as they say?

Post a comment and let us know.