Well over a thousand apple varieties are available today. Many of these are sports, or accidental mutations of another variety. Others, especially the more recent introductions, are the result of painstaking crossing and selection by apple breeders. Each parent plant supplies half the heritage of seedlings, but that half may be a set of characteristics either partly or completely hidden in the parent. The seedlings are an unknown mixture until breeders grow them to fruiting size to see what characteristics they have. This work takes time, and many seedlings prove to be inferior to their parents.

Sports, or mutations, may occur at any time, often without apparent reason: Suddenly one branch of a tree is different. Occasionally the odd branch results from mechanical damage, such as pruning; sometimes experimenters purposely change genetic structure with chemicals or radiation. Mast sports are worthless, but now and then one turns out to have characteristics that make it worth propagating to create a new strain.

  • Delicious', which is by far the most popular and economically important apple in America, first sprouted in an Iowa orchard in 1872. Its parentage is uncertain, but one parent may have been a nearby 'Yellow Bellflower' apple. That 'Delicious' exists at all today is almost a miracle. The owner, Jesse Hiatt, cut the seedling down twice, but it resprouted each time, so finally he let it grow. In about 1880 it bore fruit that Hiatt thought was the best he'd ever tasted. The name 'Delicious' was given at a fruit show by C. M. Stark of Stark Nurseries. Stark didn't learn the name of the grower until 1894, and by then the apple had already begun its rise to fame.
  • Delicious' has produced a number of sports, including the original red sport, 'Star-king'; the redder 'Richard', 'Royal Red', 'Hi Early', 'Chelan Red', and 'Red Queen'; and the spur-type 'Starkrimson', 'Red-spur', 'Wellspur', 'Hardispur', and 'Oregon Spur'. 'Delicious' is also a parent of 'Melrose'.

The first seedling of 'Jonathan' sprouted in Woodstock, New York, apparently from the fruit of an 'Esopus Spitzenburg'. A Judge Buel of Albany found the apple so good that he presented specimens to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, naming it for the man who first showed it to him. 'Jonathan' was the most important commercial variety before 'Delicious' took over.

Red sports of 'Jonathan' include 'Jon-A-Red' and 'Jonnee'. Hybrid descendants include 'Jonagold', 'Jonamac', 'Idared', 'Melrose', 'Minjon', and 'Monroe'.

The 'Mcintosh' apple came from the Mcintosh Nursery in Ontario, Canada. John Mcintosh discovered it about 1811 but did not propagate grafted stock until 1835, when the grafting technique was perfected. Well-known descendants of 'Mcintosh' include 'Summerred', 'Niagara', 'Early Mcintosh', 'Puritan', 'Tyde-man's Red', 'Jonamac', 'Macoun', 'Empire', 'Cortland', 'Spartan', and the spur variety, 'Macspur'.

Other apples with long lines of descendants include 'Rome', 'Golden Delicious', 'Northern Spy', and 'Winesap'.

The extensive work on dwarfing rootstocks for apples has produced plant sizes ranging from a 4-foot bush to a 30-foot spreading tree. There is

An informal espaliered apple even a true, or genetic, dwarf that stays small on any rootstock.

Spur-type apple varieties are sports of standard varieties. They grow more slowly than other plants, and their spurs are packed closer together on the branch. This less vigorous growth means that they are a kind of genetic dwarf, but they are still good-sized trees unless grafted to dwarfing roots. Spur varieties are difficult to train formally. If you buy spur varieties on dwarfing roots, use a training method that doesn't call for any particular form.

Pruning methods depend on how you grow the tree. For general pruning of the larger dwarfed trees or standard trees, see pages 40-43. For special training, turn to page 46.

Thinning is crucial with apple varieties. If left alone the trees set too much fruit, and the heavy crop can snap branches. Even more important, many apple varieties tend to bear every other year. If you leave too much fruit you encourage this alternate bear ing: The following year you may find that your tree bears only a handful of apples because the large crop of the previous year has depleted the tree's reserves. Most important of all, the quality of the remaining fruit is better after thinning.

There are many thinning methods, but the best method is to make a light first thinning by the time the fruit is pea size. After this, wait for the natural drop of young fruit in June, then thin the remaining fruit so that there is a single apple every 6 inches along the branches. Each spur may have a cluster of fruit. A single fruit is less likely to become diseased, so leave only the largest fruit on each spur.

Thin carefully or you will damage the spurs or even pull them off with the young fruit. If the apples are small one year, thin more heavily the next year. If the fruit set is light but the fruit is large, thin less next season.

Most apples are self-infertile, so for a good crop most varieties need a pollinator.

Espalier Mcintosh Apple Tree With Apples

A formal espalier

Mutsu Espalier
A "spur" type tree
Apple Genetic Sport Spur Type


A formal espalier

Almost any two kinds that bloom together offer good cross-pollination. The following varieties produce poor pollen so cannot pollinate other varieties: 'Jonagold', 'Spigold', 'Mutsu', 'Gravenstein', 'Winesap', 'Stayman', and 'Stayman' sports such as 'Blaxstayman' and 'Staymared'. If you plant one of these varieties, you will need to plant three different varieties in total to gel fruit from all of them. Also, if you plant only a very early and a very late variety, they will not cross-pollinate.

All apples need some cool winter weather, but there is an enormous range in this requirement, so varieties are available for any climate except tropical and low desert regions.

Apples are subject to attack by many organisms, but the gardener will have most trouble with codling moth and other fruit-spoiling pests and with the usual aphids, mites, and scales. See the pest and disease section on pages 29-37 for further details. A regular spray schedule is best. Repeated sprays can control diseases such as mildew.

Early Season Varieties

  • Akane' A hybrid of 'Worcester Pearmain' and 'Jonathan', 'Akane' has bright red skin; crisp, juicy white flesh; and 'Jonathan'-like flavor. The moderately productive tree is less susceptible to iireblight than the 'Jonathan' parent is. Origin: Japan. 'Jerseymac' A 'Mcintosh' cross that ripens in August, this red fruit is medium firm, juicy, and of good quality. The tree produces a crop every year and is generally available. Origin: New Jersey. 'Liberty' The medium-sized fruit is sweet and juicy, somewhat coarse-grained, and abundantly produced; the skin is almast entirely red. The tree's greatest virtue is extreme resistance to rust and scab and high resistance to fireblight and mildew. Origin: New York.
  • Mcintosh'
  • Lodi' The fruit is up to 3 inches in diameter, with light green skin, sometimes with a slight orange blush. The flash is nearly white with a greenish tinge; fine grained, tender, and juicy; but sour. The eating quality is only fair, but 'Lodi' is excellent in sauce and pies. The tree tends to overset fruit and must be thinned. Widely-available. Origin: New York. 'Tydeman's Early' A 'Mcintosh' type, similar in shape and ripening four weeks earlier, this apple is almost entirely red from a very early stage. Fruit drops quickly at maturity and should all be picked within a few days for optimum quality and flavor. The eating quality is good and the fruit keeps much longer than most early varieties. When few other varieties are being harvested, early ripening is a virtue. One drawback is growth habit: The branches are undesirably long and lanky and need to be controlled by-pruning. For best results grow this one on dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstocks. Widely available. Origin: England.

Early to Midseason Varieties

'Gravenstein' Fruit is large but not uniform, with skin that's red against light green. The greenish yellow flesh is moderately line textured, crisp, firm, and juicy. It is excellent for eating fresh, in sauce, and in pies. The trees are strong, very vigorous, upright, and spreading. Widely-available along with 'Red Gravenstein'. Origin: Germany. 'Jonamac' This 'Mcintosh' type dessert apple is of very good eating quality, milder in flavor than the 'Mcintosh'. Origin: New York. 'Mcintosh' If you write down the attributes of a great apple—medium-to-large fruit with sweet, tender, juicy white flesh; very good fresh or in sauce, pies, or cider—you are describing 'Mcintosh'. The skin is yellow with a bright red blush. The tree is strong and very vigorous. Widely available. Origin: Ontario.

Jonamac Apple Tree


Jonamac Apple Tree
'Golden Delicious'


  • Red Delicious'
  • Spartan'
  • Paulared' This apple rates high on several counts. It has an attractive solid red blush with a bright yellow ground color. The flesh is white to cream and nonbrowning. Its excellent, slightly tart flavor makes it good both for eating fresh and in sauce and pies. Although it colors early, for quality apples it should not be picked until nearly mature. Fruit holds well on the tree and is harvested in two pickings; it has a long storage life. The tree is everything an attractive tree should be-strong and upright, with good branch structure. Origin: Michigan.
  • Prima' This juicy red apple has fair quality, but its main feature is its resistance to scab, mildew, and fireblight. Origin: Illinois.

Midseason Varieties

  • Cortland' According to many apple growers, this is excellent—even better than 'Mcintosh'—as a dual-purpose apple, for eating and cooking. The tree bears heavy crops of large, red-striped fruit with white flesh that is slow to turn brown when exposed to air, making it especially suited for use in salads. The tree is strong and very vigorous, with a spreading, drooping growth habit. Widely available. Origin: New York. 'Empire' This cross between 'Mcintosh' and 'Delicious' has medium, uniform fruit with dark red striped skin and whitish cream flesh that is firm, medium textured, crisp, very juicy and of excellent eating quality. A major fault is that it develops full color long before maturity, tempting the grower to harvest too early. The trees are moderately vigorous and of spreading form. Origin: New York. 'Gala' This variety gains high marks for quality as a fresh fruit with the advantage of long storage life. The me-dium-sized fruit is yellow brightly striped with red and borne on a large, upright tree. Origin: New Zealand.
  • Jonagold'
  • Jonathan' The standard 'Jonathan' is one of the top varieties grown in commercial orchards in the Central States. The fruit is medium sized and uniform; the skin is washed red and pale yellow; and the flesh is firm, crisp, and juicy. Rich flavor makes it a good choice for snacks, salads, and all culinary uses. Trees bear heavily. Widely available. Origin: New York. 'Spartan' A cross between 'Mcintosh' and 'Yellow Newtown', the fruit is medium sized, uniform, and symmetrical. It has solid dark red skin and light yellow, firm, tender, crisp, and juicy flesh. The tree is strong, moderately vigorous, and well shaped. It must be thinned to assure good size and annual bearing. Widely available. Origin: British Columbia, Canada.
  • Red Delicious'

Midseason to Late Varieties

  • Golden Delicious' For a great eating and cooking apple, 'Golden Delicious' ranks as high as any. The fruit is medium to large and uniform in size. The skin is greenish yellow with a bright pink blush. The flash is firm, crisp, juicy, and sweet—excellent fresh and in desserts and salads, and very good for sauce. The tree is of medium height, moderately vigorous, upright, and round, with wide-angled crotches. It bears very young and continues to bear annually if thinned. This is an excellent pollinator and will set some crop without cross-pollination. Widely available. Origin: West Virginia.
  • Jonagold' A cross of 'Jonathan' and 'Golden Delicious', this is a beautiful large apple with a lively yellow-green ground color and bright red blushes. The cream-colored flesh is crisp and juicy and has good flavor. It is good for axiking, is among the very best apples for fresh eating, and stores well. The trees are vigorous with wide-angled branches. Origin: New York.

'Granny Smith'

Tree That Produces Nuts Virginia


'Granny Smith'

  • Red Delicious' The number one supermarket apple, there is no question about its dessert and fresh-eating quality. The fruit is medium t.o large with striped to solid red skin. The flesh is moderately firm in texture and very sweet and juicy. Your best choices are the red sports such as 'Wellspur' or 'Royal Red'. The tree lends to produce full crops every other year unless properly thinned for annual bearing. Widely available. Origin: Iowa.
  • Yellow Newtown' The medium-sized fruit has greenish yellow skin and crisp, firm flesh. It is good for eating fresh and excellent for sauce and pies. The trees are strong and vigorous. Widely available. Origin: New York.

Late Varieties

'Fuji' This variety is later to ripen than 'Granny Smith' and, like that variety, needs a long growing season (at least 200 days). Origin: Japan.


  • Granny Smith' The fruit is medium to large and bright glossy green. The flesh resembles 'Golden Delicious' but is more tart. It is very good eaten fresh or in desserts, salads, sauce, and pies. The tree is strong, vigorous, upright, and spreading, but it can only be grown in areas with a very long growing season. It has recently become the favorite tart apple in groceries. Widely available. Origin: Australia. 'Idared' A cross of 'Jonathan' and 'Wagener', this hybrid has an attractive, nearly-solid red skin with a smooth finish. The large, uniform fruit has white, firm, smooth-tex-tured flesh that is excellent for eating fresh and for cooking. It has a long storage life. The tree is vigorous, upright, and productive. Widely available. Origin: Idaho.
  • Mutsn' A cross of 'Golden Delicious' and the Japanese 'Indo', this relative newcomer has gained the approval of both growers and consumers. Large, oblong, greenish fruit develops some yellow color when mature. The flesh is coarse, firm, and crisp. The flavor is excellent (tarter than 'Golden Delicious') when eaten fresh, and it is good for sauce, pies, and baking. Unlike 'Golden Delicious' it does not shrivel in storage. The tree is vigorous and spreading. Origin: Japan.
  • Northern Spy' Trees of this variety are very slow to begin bearing; sometimes 14 years elapse before they produce their first bushel (but they bear much sooner on dwarf root-stock). The fruit is large, with yellow and red stripes, and the flesh is yellowish, firm, and crisp. The quality is excellent fresh and for pies. The fruit bruises easily, but has a long storage life. Trees are vigorous and bear in alternate years. Widely available. Origin: New York.
Northern Spy Tree
'Northern Spy' '

'Rome Beauty' This variety and its sports are the world's best baking apples. Many red sports (such as 'Red Rome') are available in a beautiful, solid medium-dark red. The fruit is large and round, and the flesh is medium in texture, firm, and crisp. The tree is moderately vigorous, starts to produce at an early age, and is a heavy producer. The fruit has a long storage life. Widely-available. Origin: Ohio. 'Stayman' This variety is a very late ripener. Where it can be grown, it is good for cooking or eating fresh. The fruit is juicy with a moderately tart, rich, winelike flavor. The skin is bright red and has a tendency to crack. The flesh is fine-textured, firm, and crisp. The tree is medium sized and moderately vigorous. Widely available. Origin: Kansas.

Extrahardy Varieties

In cold-winter areas where some of the favorite apple varieties are subject to winter damage, gardeners may choose one of three hardy varieties developed by the University of Minnesota.

  • Honeygold' Midseason to Late. This apple boasts a 'Golden Delicious' flavor. The fruit is medium to large with golden to yellowish green skin and yellow flesh that is crisp, smooth, tender, and juicy. It is good for eating fresh and in sauce and pies. The tree is moderately vigorous. Origin: Minnesota.
  • Red Baron' Midseason. This cross of 'Golden Delicious' and 'Red Duchess' has round, medium-sized fruit with cherry-red skin. The flesh is crisp and juicy with a pleasantly tart flavor. It is good eaten fresh or in sauce and pies. Origin: Minnesota. 'Regent' Late. This variety is recommended for a long-keeping red winter apple. The fruit is medium sized, with bright red skin and crisp-textured, creamy white, juicy flesh. Rated excellent for cooking or eating fresh, it retains its fine dessert quality late into winter. The tree is vigorous. Origin: Minnesota.

Low-Chill Varieties

  • Anna' Early. This apple flowers and fruits in Florida and Southern California. The apple is green with a red blush and fair quality. It is normally harvested in .July but sometimes sets another late bloom that produces apples for the fall. Use an early blooming variety such as 'Dorsett Golden' or 'Ein Shemer' as a pollinator. Origin: Israel. 'Beverly Hills' Early. This is a small to medium-sized apple, striped or splashed with red over a pale yellow skin. The flesh is tender, juicy, and tart. Overall the apple resembles 'Mcintosh'. Use it fresh or cook it in sauce or in pies. The tree is suited mainly to cooler coastal areas, since heat spoils the fruit. Locally available. Origin: California. 'Dorsett Golden' Early. This large 'Golden Delicious'-type fruit requires no frost or significant winter chill and performs well in coastal Southern California and the hot-summer regions of the Deep South. Use it for eating fresh or for cooking. A good pollinator for 'Anna' and 'Ein Shemer'. Origin: Bahamas. 'Ein Shemer' Early. This is another 'Golden Delicious'-type fruit that is well-adapted to the Deep South, Texas, and Southern California. The tree begins bearing at an early age. Makes a good copollinator for 'Dorsett Golden'. Origin: Israel. 'Gordon' Early to midseason. The crisp flesh is enclosed in red-striped green skin. The blooming and bearing period is unusually prolonged—August to October in California. It performs particularly well in coastal Southern California. The fruit is good both for eating fresh and for cooking. Self-fruitful. Origin: California. 'Winter Banana' Midseason. The large fruit is strikingly beautiful. The skin color is pale and waxy with a spreading pink blush. The flesh is tender, with a wonderful aroma and tangy flavor. 'Winter Banana' requires a pollinator such as 'Red Astra-chan' in order to set a good crop. Locally available. Origin: Indiana.
  • Winter Pearmain' Mid-season. This large green apple has moderately firm flesh of excellent quality. It is a consistent producer in Southern California. Origin: Unknown.

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