Apple Cultivars and Their Uses
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.
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|
|Enterprise||Very resistant||Susceptible||Very resistant||Moderately 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|
|Arkansas Black||moderately susceptible||Resistant||Resistant||Resistant|
|Cortland||Very susceptible||Susceptible||Very susceptible||Susceptible|
|Golden Delicious||Susceptible||Very susceptible||Susceptible||Susceptible|
|Granny Smith||Susceptible||Resistant||Very susceptible||Very susceptible|
|Jonagold||Very susceptible||Very susceptible||Susceptible||Very 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|
|Red Delicious||Susceptible||Very resistant||Resistant||Resistant|
|Rome Beauty||Very susceptible||Very susceptible||Susceptible||Very susceptible|
"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|
|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|
- 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|
|Arkansas Black||X||X||Very long|
|Northern Spy||X||Very long|
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.