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G6022, Apple Cultivars and Their Uses

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Apple Cultivars and Their Uses

Michele Warmund
Department of Horticulture

In choosing an apple cultivar to grow, your decision may hinge on many factors. Maybe you want to grow the same type of apples you've seen at farmers markets or supermarkets. Maybe you want to grow the same apple you had when you were a child. Maybe you want to try an apple you've never seen.

In choosing an apple, you need to consider several factors.

  • Is it adapted to Missouri?
    Some apples become soft in our summer heat. Some apples that grow well in drier climates develop russet (brown "scurfiness" on surface of the fruit) in Missouri because of the high humidity.
  • How much care do you want to give the apples?
    Some apples are very disease resistant and require few if any fungicides. Other apples will not produce a viable crop in Missouri without chemical sprays. Unfortunately there are no insect-resistant cultivars. Most apples become "wormy" from codling moth larvae without treatment.
  • What type of apple do you want?
    Summer apples are great for eating fresh but often have a short storage life. They should be consumed promptly. How many bushels of apples can you eat fresh? Many of the later ripening apples tend to have a prolonged storage life. However, even late-ripening apples held in a refrigerator will deteriorate about three months after harvest.
  • What about pollination?
    It takes at least two different types of apple for successful pollination. Crabapples that bloom at the same time as your apple trees work perfectly well as pollenizers. Apples also need bees to carry out pollination. Do not use insecticides near apple trees during flowering. Also remove dandelion flowers when apples are in bloom to encourage bees to pollinate apple flowers.
  • Which strain of a cultivar should you choose?
    As cultivars are grown, people are always looking for strains that might be earlier ripening, better colored, earlier coloring, spur type, etc. For example, Red Delicious apple has more than 40 strains currently available on the market. Some strains are better than others. This guide cannot include all possible strains; the fruit is described according to what would typically be expected for a cultivar. After reading a cultivar's description in this publication, contact a nursery for more information.

Characteristics of various disease-resistant and standard apple cultivars.

Note
Disease ratings are based on a collection of observations by MU personnel, Cornell Extension personnel, and as rated by commercial nurseries.

  • Very susceptible, disease control will be necessary
  • Susceptible, disease control will usually be needed
  • Resistant, control needed only under high pest pressure
  • Very resistant, no control necessary for this disease
  Apple scab Cedar apple rust Powdery mildew Fire blight
Scab-immune cultivars
Enterprise Very resistant Susceptible Very resistant Moderately resistant
Goldrush Very resistant Susceptible Resistant Resistant
Jonafree Very resistant Resistant Susceptible Resistant
Liberty Very resistant Very resistant Resistant Resistant
Pristine Very resistant Susceptible Very resistant Moderately resistant
Redfree Very resistant Resistant Resistant moderately susceptible
Williams' Pride Very resistant Resistant Resistant Resistant
Standard cultivars
Akane moderately susceptible Resistant Resistant Resistant
Arkansas Black moderately susceptible Resistant Resistant Resistant
Braeburn Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible
Cortland Very susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible Susceptible
Empire Very susceptible Resistant Susceptible Resistant
Fuji Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible
Gala Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible
Golden Delicious Susceptible Very susceptible Susceptible Susceptible
Granny Smith Susceptible Resistant Very susceptible Very susceptible
Honeycrisp Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible
Jonagold Very susceptible Very susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible
Jonamac Susceptible Resistant Susceptible Susceptible
Jonathan Susceptible Very susceptible Very susceptible Very susceptible
Lodi Susceptible Very susceptible Resistant Very susceptible
McIntosh Very susceptible Very resistant Susceptible Susceptible
Mutsu (Crispin) Very susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible Very susceptible
Northern Spy Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Resistant
Ozark Gold Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible
Paulared Susceptible Resistant Susceptible Very susceptible
Red Delicious Susceptible Very resistant Resistant Resistant
Rome Beauty Very susceptible Very susceptible Susceptible Very susceptible
Suncrisp Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible Susceptible

Harvest dates and fruit description for several apple cultivars

Note
"Well-balanced" flavor refers to the balance of acids (sour/tart) and sugars (sweet) in the fruit. A very sweet fruit with very little acidity (e.g., Red Delicious) does not have well-balanced flavor. A fruit may be very high in acids but also have high levels of sugar for a well-balanced, full flavor.

Cultivar Typical harvest time Fruit characteristic
Lodi mid-July Medium size; yellowish green; soft, sweet-tart flavor
Pristine late July Medium-large; yellow with blush; slightly tart
Williams' Pride late July Medium-large size; red fruit; softens quickly; spicy, well-balanced flavor
Redfree early August Medium size; bright red; well-balanced flavor
Akane mid-August Medium size; bright red; looks and tastes similar to Jonathan
Gala mid-August Small size; yellow to red strains available; outstanding fresh flavor
Honeycrisp mid-August Large; yellow with mottled red; sub-acid; juicy
Prima mid-August Medium to large size; dark red; firm, but softens in heat
Jonamac late August Medium size; dark striped fruit; semi-firm
Ozark Gold late August Medium to large, yellow fruit; resistant to russetting
Cortland early September Large red fruit; can be soft
Jonafree early September Similar to Jonathan
Jonalicious early September Medium size; red over yellow color
Jonathan early September Medium-sized red fruit; tart but well-balanced flavor; favorite throughout the Midwest
Liberty early September Small-medium size; red over green color; McIntosh-type of fruit; tart with coarse texture
McIntosh early September Small to medium size; red over green color; tart fruit; can be soft; favorite in northeastern United States
Empire mid-September Medium size; red fruit; McIntosh-type
Golden Delicious mid-September Large yellow apple; tends to russet, sweet and well-balanced flavor; many feel this is what an apple should taste like
Jonagold mid-September Large, red over yellow fruit, well-balanced flavor
Red Delicious mid-September Medium to large, solid red fruit, sweet apple with little acidity
Suncrisp mid-September Medium-large; yellow with orange blush; sub-acid flavor
Mutsu (Crispin) late September Large, yellow-green fruit; very juicy; mostly sweet flavor
Rome Beauty late September Large, red fruit; very firm; good flavor; favorite in eastern United States
Winesap early October Medium sized, crisp, juicy, red fruit; tart
Arkansas Black mid-October Medium to large; deep purplish color; firm; coarse texture; good flavor
Braeburn mid-October Large red fruit; outstanding, well-balanced flavor; very firm fruit
Enterprise mid-October Large; bright red; spicy and juicy
Fuji mid-October Medium to large reddish fruit; not attractive; very sweet and juicy
Northern Spy mid-October Small to large size; greenish yellow with red blush; firm, crisp, juicy, and tart
York mid-October Medium to large; red blush over green-yellow; firm, crisp and juicy
Goldrush late October Large; yellow; semi-tart and juicy
Granny Smith late October Medium to large green fruit; hard crisp; tart but well-balanced flavor

Observations on the main positive and negative traits for selected cultivars.

Cultivar Positive traits Problems
Akane Early season; Jonathan-type red apple, disease resistant Can get too soft in heat
Arkansas Black Long storage  
Braeburn Outstanding flavor and texture Fire blight; may not consistently ripen before frost; prone to bitter pit (calcium disorder in fruit)
Cortland Good all-around use Not well adapted to Missouri
Empire Better than McIntosh Prone to fruit rots, probably best of McIntosh types for Missouri, but suffers under Missouri summers
Fuji Sweet, crisp apples Very long season may not ripen before frost; prone to russetting and bitter pit; poor color, but newer strains have better color
Gala Great flavor; juicy Extremely susceptible to fire blight; brittle wood; short storage life
Golden Delicious Great all-around flavor Prone to biennial bearing and russetting; where possible plant low russetting types such as `Smoothee'
Granny Smith Good fruit quality Very long season, may not ripen before frost Jonathan-type apple, disease-resistant. Like Jonathan, susceptible to powdery mildew
Honeycrisp Great flavor, extremely crisp Not attractive; requires calcium applications to trees; leaves sometimes appear mottled
Jonagold Good flavor Will not pollinate other apples; soft texture when grown in Missouri
Jonalicious Favorite of a small group of people Has never proven to be an outstanding cultivar
Jonathan What Missourians think apples should taste like Very susceptible to fire blight and powdery mildew
Liberty Very productive; McIntosh-type apple; very disease resistant Small fruit, quality not the same as a good McIntosh grown in the northeast United States
Lodi Early season; good sauce Soft fruit; splits and becomes mealy as turns yellow
McIntosh Nice apple Does not do well under Missouri summers
Mutsu (Crispin) Sweet, crisp, juicy apple Triploid, therefore pollen is sterile; anything will pollinate it, it won't pollinate anything
Northern Spy Good for processing  
Ozark Gold Nonrussetting Golden Delicious-type apple Soft fruit; Prone to fruit drop in heat
Priscilla Unique, spicy flavor Low yields
Red Delicious Sweet apple Bland flavor; does not get the typical shape that those grown in the Pacific Northwest have
Redfree Great color, flavor and texture for so early in the season Prone to biennial bearing
Rome Beauty Old favorite Does not thrive in Missouri
Suncrisp Firm, crisp texture Fruit prone to russet; requires thinning to prevent biennial bearing
Williams' Pride Flavor is good for early season Turns soft with brown skin and flesh under high temperatures
Winesap Old favorite; long keeper Does not thrive in Missouri
York Favorite of your grandparents; good keeper Does not get as good a flavor as it might in the eastern United States

Primary use for selected varieties

Note
With refrigeration

  • Short, a few weeks
  • Medium, 2 to 3 months
  • Long, 3 to 6 months
  • Very long, 6+ months
Cultivar Fresh eating Processing (sauce, baking) Salad Freezing Storage
Akane X       Medium
Arkansas Black X X     Very long
Braeburn X       Very long
Cortland X X X   Long
Empire X X   X Long
Enterprise X   X   Long
Fuji X       Long
Gala X       Medium
Golden Delicious X X X X Long
Goldrush X   X   Long
Granny Smith X X X   Long
Honeycrisp X   X   Long
Jonafree X       Long
Jonagold X       Medium
Jonalicious X       Long
Jonamac X       Long
Jonathan X X   X Long
Liberty X X   X Long
Lodi   X     Short
McIntosh X X     Long
Mutsu (Crispin) X X X X Long
Northern Spy   X     Very long
Ozark Gold X X     Medium
Pristine X   X   Short
Red Delicious X   X   Long
Redfree X       Short
Rome Beauty   X     Long
Spartan X X   X Long
Suncrisp X X X   Medium
Williams' Pride X       Short
Winesap X X     Very long
York X X     Very long

Note
Tables included in this publication present many popular apples that are grown in Missouri. These tables are not in any way designed to be all-inclusive. It is hoped that they will help you choose an apple to plant or help guide you in purchasing fruit.

For a description of apples not listed in these tables, particularly "antique" cultivars, you may want to check the following references.

  • Fruit, Berry, and Nut Inventory, available in libraries or from Seed Saver Publications (RR 3, Box 239, Decorah, IA 52101); a description of cultivars and where to buy them,
  • Register of New Fruit and Nut Varieties(R.M. Brooks and H.R. Olmo, 1952, University of California Press); available in libraries.

G6022 Apple Cultivars and Their Uses | University of Missouri Extension