MSU's research orchard at the Horticulture Farm in Bozeman is part of MSU Extension's fruit tree research. Funded by a Montana Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant, the project includes sites in ten different counties across Montana. Research goals include identifying fruit tree cultivars appropriate to different regions of the state and providing resources and educational opportunities for Montana producers. Trees are evaluated for winter survival, bloom time, production, and fire blight resistance (in apples and pears). Project headquarters were shifted to the Western Agricultural Research Center (WARC) in 2019. For more project information and research results, visit WARC's fruit tree research project homepage

A cluster of plum blossoms on a branch

Horticulture Farm Varieties

The Horticulture Farm site contains 17 varieties of apple, plum, pear, and cherry trees. Most trees were planted in 2013, although new apple saplings were added in spring 2020 and spring 2021. The site saw heavy vole damage over the 2019-2020 winter, resulting in the loss of most of the mature apple trees. Saplings planted in 2021 were all grafts from scion material from the damaged trees.

Apple Varieties

  • Goodland - Developed from a Patten Greening seedling at the Experimental Farm in Morden Manitoba in 1931. Excellent eating apple, and excellent cold hardiness.
  • Sweet 16 - Released from University of Minnesota in 1977. Good cold hardiness.
  • Zestar - State Fair x MN 1691 cross released from University of Minnesota in 1999. One of the best apple cultivars in the trial. Great flavor and good cold hardiness.
  • Carroll - Moscow pear x Melba cross developed at the Experimental Farm in Morden, Manitoba in 1961. Excellent eating apple. Not as vigorous as other apple cultivars.
  • Idared - Released from University of Idaho's Experiment Station in 1942. Excellent fresh or cooked.
  • Breakey - Developed from a Calville Rouge seedling in Morden, Manitoba in 1935. Good dessert apple.
  • Collet - Developed in Morden, Manitoba.  Good disease resistance.
  • Enterprise* - Released from the University of Purdue Horticulture Farm in 1994. Good disease resistance and an excellent cooking apple. 
  • Kerr Crab - Haralson x Malus dolgo cross developed in Morden, Manitoba in the 1950s. Fruits are large for a crab apple. 
  • McLean Crab - Medium-sized crab apple from Canada, developed in the 1960s. 

An asterisk (*) indicates apple varieties added in the spring of 2020; all other varieties originally planted in 2013.

Pear Varieties

  • Ure - A release from the Morden, Manitoba Research Station in 1978.
  • Golden Spice - A release from the University of Minnesota in 1949. Best performing pear cultivar in our research. Small fruit, but makes a wonderful cider and is very cold hardy. 

  • Luscious - A South Dakota State University release. Questionable cold hardiness east of the divide.

Plum Varieties

  • Mount Royal - A European plum with dark blue fruit.
  • Toka - A Prunus americana x simonii cross introduced in 1911 by Dr. Neils Hansen.
  • Pipestone - A University of Minnesota release from 1942.

Cherry Varieties

  • Montmorency - One of the most common sour cherries, named for the Montmorency area of France where it originated.

'Mount Royal' plums ripening in the Horticulture Farm orchard