Michele Warmund
Department of Horticulture

Selecting apple trees for planting can be a bit overwhelming with so many cultivars available from nurseries. Every year promising new cultivars are released. However, there are several factors that help narrow the choices.

  • Is it adapted to Missouri?
    Some apples, such as Honeycrisp and Jonagold, become discolored and soft in our summer heat. Others apples grow well in drier climates but 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 apple cultivars are very disease resistant and require few if any fungicides. Other apples will not produce a high quality 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. 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. Also, crabapples that bloom at the same time as your apple trees work perfectly well as pollenizers. Bees are needed for successful pollination and fruit set. For this reason, do not spray apple trees with insecticides 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, new strains are released 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

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 scabCedar apple rustPowdery mildewFire blight
Scab-immune cultivars
EnterpriseVery resistantSusceptibleVery resistantModerately resistant
GoldrushVery resistantSusceptibleResistantResistant
JonafreeVery resistantResistantSusceptibleResistant
LibertyVery resistantVery resistantResistantResistant
PristineVery resistantSusceptibleVery resistantModerately resistant
RedfreeVery resistantResistantResistantmoderately susceptible
Williams' PrideVery resistantResistantResistantResistant
Standard cultivars
Akanemoderately susceptibleResistantResistantResistant
Arkansas Blackmoderately susceptibleResistantResistantResistant
BraeburnSusceptibleSusceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptible
CortlandVery susceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptibleSusceptible
EmpireVery susceptibleResistantSusceptibleResistant
GalaSusceptibleSusceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptible
Golden DeliciousSusceptibleVery susceptibleSusceptibleSusceptible
Granny SmithSusceptibleResistantVery susceptibleVery susceptible
JonagoldVery susceptibleVery susceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptible
JonathanSusceptibleVery susceptibleVery susceptibleVery susceptible
LodiSusceptibleVery susceptibleResistantVery susceptible
McIntoshVery susceptibleVery resistantSusceptibleSusceptible
Mutsu (Crispin)Very susceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptibleVery susceptible
Northern SpySusceptibleSusceptibleSusceptibleResistant
Ozark GoldSusceptibleSusceptibleSusceptibleSusceptible
Red DeliciousSusceptibleVery resistantResistantResistant
Rome BeautyVery susceptibleVery susceptibleSusceptibleVery susceptible


Harvest dates and fruit description for several apple cultivars

"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.

CultivarTypical harvest timeFruit characteristic
Lodimid-JulyMedium size; yellowish green; soft, sweet-tart flavor
Pristinelate JulyMedium-large; yellow with blush; slightly tart
Williams' Pridelate JulyMedium-large size; red fruit; softens quickly; spicy, well-balanced flavor
Redfreeearly AugustMedium size; bright red; well-balanced flavor
Akanemid-AugustMedium size; bright red; looks and tastes similar to Jonathan
Galamid-AugustSmall size; yellow to red strains available; outstanding fresh flavor
Honeycrispmid-AugustLarge; yellow with mottled red; sub-acid; juicy
Primamid-AugustMedium to large size; dark red; firm, but softens in heat
Jonamaclate AugustMedium size; dark striped fruit; semi-firm
Ozark Goldlate AugustMedium to large, yellow fruit; resistant to russetting
Cortlandearly SeptemberLarge red fruit; can be soft
Jonafreeearly SeptemberSimilar to Jonathan
Jonaliciousearly SeptemberMedium size; red over yellow color
Jonathanearly SeptemberMedium-sized red fruit; tart but well-balanced flavor; favorite throughout the Midwest
Libertyearly SeptemberSmall-medium size; red over green color; McIntosh-type of fruit; tart with coarse texture
McIntoshearly SeptemberSmall to medium size; red over green color; tart fruit; can be soft; favorite in northeastern United States
Empiremid-SeptemberMedium size; red fruit; McIntosh-type
Golden Deliciousmid-SeptemberLarge yellow apple; tends to russet, sweet and well-balanced flavor; many feel this is what an apple should taste like
Jonagoldmid-SeptemberLarge, red over yellow fruit, well-balanced flavor
Red Deliciousmid-SeptemberMedium to large, solid red fruit, sweet apple with little acidity
Suncrispmid-SeptemberMedium-large; yellow with orange blush; sub-acid flavor
Mutsu (Crispin)late SeptemberLarge, yellow-green fruit; very juicy; mostly sweet flavor
Rome Beautylate SeptemberLarge, red fruit; very firm; good flavor; favorite in eastern United States
Winesapearly OctoberMedium sized, crisp, juicy, red fruit; tart
Arkansas Blackmid-OctoberMedium to large; deep purplish color; firm; coarse texture; good flavor
Braeburnmid-OctoberLarge red fruit; outstanding, well-balanced flavor; very firm fruit
Enterprisemid-OctoberLarge; bright red; spicy and juicy
Fujimid-OctoberMedium to large reddish fruit; not attractive; very sweet and juicy
Northern Spymid-OctoberSmall to large size; greenish yellow with red blush; firm, crisp, juicy, and tart
Yorkmid-OctoberMedium to large; red blush over green-yellow; firm, crisp and juicy
Goldrushlate OctoberLarge; yellow; semi-tart and juicy
Granny Smithlate OctoberMedium to large green fruit; hard crisp; tart but well-balanced flavor


Positive and negative traits of selected cultivars

CultivarPositive traitsProblems
AkaneEarly season; Jonathan-type red apple, disease resistantCan get too soft in heat
Arkansas BlackLong storage 
BraeburnOutstanding flavor and textureFire blight; may not consistently ripen before frost; prone to bitter pit (calcium disorder in fruit)
CortlandGood all-around useNot well adapted to Missouri
EmpireBetter than McIntoshProne to fruit rots, probably best of McIntosh types for Missouri, but suffers under Missouri summers
FujiSweet, crisp applesVery long season may not ripen before frost; prone to russetting and bitter pit; poor color, but newer strains have better color
GalaGreat flavor; juicyExtremely susceptible to fire blight; brittle wood; short storage life
Golden DeliciousGreat all-around flavorProne to biennial bearing and russetting; where possible plant low russetting types such as `Smoothee'
Granny SmithGood fruit qualityVery long season, may not ripen before frost Jonathan-type apple, disease-resistant. Like Jonathan, susceptible to powdery mildew
HoneycrispGreat flavor, extremely crispNot attractive when grown in Missouri; requires calcium applications to trees; leaves sometimes appear mottled
JonagoldGood flavorWill not pollinate other apples; soft texture when grown in Missouri
JonaliciousFavorite of a small group of peopleHas never proven to be an outstanding cultivar
JonathanWhat Missourians think apples should taste likeVery susceptible to fire blight and powdery mildew
LibertyVery productive; McIntosh-type apple; very disease resistantSmall fruit, quality not the same as a good McIntosh grown in the northeast United States
LodiEarly season; good sauceSoft fruit; splits and becomes mealy as turns yellow
McIntoshNice appleDoes not do well under Missouri summers
Mutsu (Crispin)Sweet, crisp, juicy appleTriploid, therefore pollen is sterile; anything will pollinate it, it won't pollinate anything
Northern SpyGood for processing 
Ozark GoldNonrussetting Golden Delicious-type appleSoft fruit; Prone to fruit drop in heat
PriscillaUnique, spicy flavorLow yields
Red DeliciousSweet appleBland flavor; does not get the typical shape that those grown in the Pacific Northwest have
RedfreeGreat color, flavor and texture for so early in the seasonProne to biennial bearing
Rome BeautyOld favoriteDoes not thrive in Missouri
SuncrispFirm, crisp textureFruit prone to russet; requires thinning to prevent biennial bearing
Williams' PrideFlavor is good for early seasonTurns soft with brown skin and flesh under high temperatures
WinesapOld favorite; long keeperDoes not thrive in Missouri
YorkFavorite of your grandparents; good keeperDoes not get as good a flavor as it might in the eastern United States


Primary use for selected varieties

With refrigeration

  • Short, a few weeks
  • Medium, 2 to 3 months
  • Long, 3 to 6 months
  • Very long, 6+ months
CultivarFresh eatingProcessing (sauce, baking)SaladFreezingStorage
AkaneX   Medium
Arkansas BlackXX  Very long
BraeburnX   Very long
CortlandXXX Long
EmpireXX XLong
EnterpriseX X Long
FujiX   Long
GalaX   Medium
Golden DeliciousXXXXLong
GoldrushX X Long
Granny SmithXXX Long
HoneycrispX X Long
JonafreeX   Long
JonagoldX   Medium
JonaliciousX   Long
JonamacX   Long
JonathanXX XLong
LibertyXX XLong
Lodi X  Short
McIntoshXX  Long
Mutsu (Crispin)XXXXLong
Northern Spy X  Very long
Ozark GoldXX  Medium
PristineX X Short
Red DeliciousX X Long
RedfreeX   Short
Rome Beauty X  Long
SpartanXX XLong
SuncrispXXX Medium
Williams' PrideX   Short
WinesapXX  Very long
YorkXX  Very long

Tables included in this publication present popular apples that are grown in Missouri. These tables are a guide for choosing a cultivar for planting and do not include all the cultivars available from nurseries. When planting a newly released cultivar, it may be untested in all locations of the state.

For a description of heirloom apple cultivars not listed in these tables, refer to the Register of New Fruit and Nut Varieties (R.M. Brooks and H.R. Olmo, 1952, University of California Press); available in libraries.

Publication No. G6022