Looking into good multi-purpose older apples for mid-atlantic

oath5(z6b/7a MD)February 27, 2013

We used to have lots of old apple trees on my dad's property growing up. I don't think they were anything special and weren't very good eating apples I think they were more for cider. They were green and on the smaller side.

Anyway, all of those are all but firewood now (apple wood is the best for fires and cooking) but now I'm looking for some new apple trees for my dad to plant. We're installing a giant strawberry patch for him, I thought we should put in some apples, persimmons and peaches and possibly try a russian pomegranate (at least Id like him to try one) too since he wants to start canning and preserving. Maybe a sour cherry too.

He's looking for a really great multipurpose apple, one that you can eat fresh, bake/cook or use for applesauce and doesn't want to grow what you usually can get at the store or our local produce shop (which actually is well stocked with local apple varieties like empire, rome, etc) and also be relatively disease resistant.

He likes Winesap apples so I was thinking at least one tree we'd get would be getting would be that or stayman and then Arkansas Black which seems to have good cedar apple rust resistance. That's pretty much my biggest concern, that and fireblight. We'd spray of course.

Any other good oldies or modern new breed/natural crosses worth looking into that are of that older honeyed/spiced and have those higher tanins found in winesap.

I'm currently looking on orangepippin and bighorsecreek farm websites and there are so many interesting varieties. Currently looking at the supposed most resistant apples on orangepipin, a lot are english cooking apples.

Overall we're thinking of planting about 4-6 apple trees. Like I said he generally likes the qualities of winesap so I'm thinking a lot of older I guess winter apple varieties would be best bets?

So far I've also noticed a winesap relation, King David is also supposedly very resistant to fireblight. So currently options are:

winesap and or stayman winesap
arkansas black
king david

going in the right direction?

I asked in the Mid-Atlantic forum but I also wanted to ask here if there are any particular varieties we should check out.


- Max

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greenorchardmom(Ga Mts 7)

Winesap is a great apple but Winecrisp has better Disease Resistance
Arkansas Black is vry good once it mellows for a month
Goldrush is superb with very good DR
Sansa is very good for fresh eating don't know about cooking with very good DR
Liberty was bred for strong DR but is very good tasting as well
Kidds Orange Redd & Ashmead's Kernal are exceptional
but maybe not quite as strong DR still better than most
scottsmith should chime in here

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 10:39PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Max, of the three you list I like King David the best. I would consider GoldRush, its a very reliable and disease-resistant tree. Its not old but it has many of the qualities of older apples: unusual taste, extraordinary keeping, flexible use. I would consider a russet apple, my favorite is Pomme Gris but Golden Russet and Ashmeads Kernel are also excellent. I keep a list of my favorite apples for taste, see below. Many of them are more aromatic apples (like Golden Delicious), given the three you picked initially you may not be as interested in aromatic apples. Newtown Pippin might be another one he would like, its a classic American apple and a great late keeper but its a green unlike the other three you list. It has its own unique "tangy" flavor.


  1. Freyburg
  2. Gold Rush
  3. Kidds Orange Red
  4. Wickson Crab (but, cracks every other year)
  5. Nonpareil
  6. Rubinette
  7. Bonne Hotture
  8. Abbondanza
  9. Chestnut Crab
  10. Golden Russet (American)
  11. Hawaii
  12. Swayzie
  13. Newtown Pippin
  14. Pomme Gris
  15. Reine des Reinettes
  16. Ashmead's Kernel
  17. Mother
  18. Rusty Coat
  19. White Winter Pearmain
  20. Golden Nugget
  21. Akane (but is highly bug-prone)
  22. Maigold
  23. Ribston Pippin
  24. Myers Royal Limbertwig
  25. Pink Lady
    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I'll throw in MonArk - decent disease resistance - have had no issues other than flyspeck/sooty blotch, early ripening (mid-July, here), large red-over-green fruit with crisp subacid white flesh - good for fresh eating/cooking/drying. Keeps well under refrigeration for 6-8 wks without going mealy, like most early varieties. Ripens over an extended period(good for home orchard), would require stop-drop application in a commercial setting, or multiple pickings.

Gold Rush is a cedar-apple rust canary here, and the deer always eat all the fruits before they ever come close to being ripe. Wish I could get a chance to eat some, as it always draws good reviews.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2013 at 4:40PM
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It looks like you are off to a pretty good start...

My own experience with Apples on the Humid east coast where Disease and Insect pressure is tremendous is.....

Take time to find resistant varieties... There's nothing like watching you pride and joy wrecked by bugs or disease.... I lost my Spitzenberg apple this year to Fireblight... so I am much more sensitive now...

If you really want "Old" varieties - it's worth looking at some of the old Southern, East Coast heirlooms... as the ones that survived were pretty darned tough...

Winners so far for me are:
Horse and Yates...

Esophaus Spitzenberg got HAMMERED by fireblight and died.

Ashmead's kernel hasn't fruited yet - but survived the Great Fireblight Attack of 2012..


    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Yup, Spitz is a known magnet. Mine was getting nothing for many years then one year WHAM dead.

All the russet varieties I mentioned have been pretty clean for fireblight and diseases, in particular they avoid the summer skin diseases that make apples so ugly (and often rotting) when you are not spraying all the time. The Pomme Gris in particular always come out looking like gilded gems with their perfect coating of russet and no unsightly summer blotches.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 2:04PM
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oath5(z6b/7a MD)

Thank you guys very much for all the options to look over, I have a lot to mull over. It's looking like I might do a few of the winesap or winesap type stuff, maybe a russet. I'm looking at lists of some of those southern south east varieties right now, many are exactly what I'm looking for.
Disease Resistance really is a big factor, I think we may be throwing Liberty in there as well. Like I said a lot to consider I have a compiled list going it's HUGE lol.

I have to make sure all our pollination times are compatible, I would have to plant stuff and not get anything due to bloom times being all over the place and not crossing. I know the winesaps don't give off pollen so they don't pollinate other trees right?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:22PM
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greenorchardmom(Ga Mts 7)

I have found pollination to rarely be an issue
as apples tend to bloom on top of each other
for instance Winesap will be pollinated by any
late early - mid - late blooming apple & no its not a pollinator
I hear you wanting heirloom/antique apples!
I planted & abrubtly lost my 1st trees (Spitzenberg was one)
however you did imply you'll use chems & I don't
you always provide what countless edu trials lack
thanx I was just ordering a Arkane

This post was edited by GreenOrchardMom on Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 20:31

    Bookmark   March 1, 2013 at 7:58PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Green Orchard Mom, I really wish I could figure out how to keep Akane fruits more happy, but so far no luck. The skin is that soft/rubbery kind like Mcintosh but its thinner than the Mac's so is more rot/bug exposed. Its probably eventually a goner but its so tasty it gets an extra super long trial.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2013 at 10:09AM
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oath5(z6b/7a MD)

How is this list so far?

Current list:

Staymen Winesap
*Arkansas Black
Virginia Beauty
King David

I think I might be able to get one more tree, since I don't like even numbers of things and Arkansas Black might be able to be substituted, am looking at Kinnard's Choice, and a few others.

scott Pomme Gris is not only disease resistant on the fruit but is the tree generally healthy as well?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 9:19PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Pomme Gris has been very healthy for me. Whether your dad will like it or not I have no idea. Probably it will be his most or least favorite, not in the middle.

Re: your selection all the varieties are good but they are relatively similar. Maybe ditch one of the first two. Liberty is liked by some but not others, I don't have it myself since I didn't find enough positive comments. Get a Williams Pride if you want a disease-resistant one that is universally acclaimed.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:15PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I'm one of the people who doesn't particularly like Liberty. I remember one poster saying that it needed to be well-ripened to shine. I picked some at a PYO orchard this fall on 10/16, after an especially long season (due to the early spring). Even so, it was just so-so. ~13-14 brix, with a nondescript flavor. I've had worse, but it wasn't good. The standout from the same day was some super-sweet Golden Russets (>21% brix). Given what Scott has said in the past (that Pomme Gris is similar to Golden Russet), I would definitely go with that. I've got one myself, but only planted it last spring.

But, the must-have apple is Goldrush. Especially given the length of the growing season you have. Right off the tree it is one of the strongest flavored apples you'll find- lots of sweet and sour at the same time. And it's scab resistant with a great hard, good-keeping texture.

I've had some pretty good Winesaps and not-bad Staymans from PYOs. I once found an Arkansas Black in a grocery store. While it is reputed to keep very well, even it could not stand up to the "non-refrigerated and tucked in a corner" treatment it received there. It was quite soft and not very impressive. I later had one which had been better preserved and it wasn't bad, but didn't really grab me (like a harder, but not crunchy Stayman). Winesap has been the best of the 3 so far, especially when well-ripened to the point where a few are just starting to crack.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:24PM
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oath5(z6b/7a MD)

Thank you scott. I do realize they are similar, I may strike staymen though I do believe I tend to like those more (they're much bigger than regular winesap correct?).

We do like a particular type which is why they're pretty similar, but it wouldn't hurt to have a few different ones.

I have to figure out pollination pretty sure a lot of those are triploid if I kept all of them. SIgh, far too many to choose from.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 5:44AM
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The reason it's worthwhile to get several different types is that a mature apple tree can easily produce over 100 lbs of fruit.... and you can't eat that much all at once....

What you find is that early on (When you are getting 6 apples) - you wish the tree was producing 10x as much fruit... But... When it makes 350 apples... you wish for something else....

So... You put some in cold storage, cook with some of it, give plenty away, and even make juice/cider...

It will take a couple years to get there.... but if they are all basically the same - you will be dealing with 600+ lbs of fruit that doesn't have much flavor variety..... For cooking and Juice - you really need that variety - and especially STRONG flavors, as a single flavor profile and "Normal" eating apples tends to produce bland, one dimensional flavors in juices, ciders, and cooking

So... If you have 1 apple you love out of hand - certainly buy it... but don't loose out on the joy of variety....


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:23AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bob, Pomme Gris is similar to the English Golden Russet. The EGR is more finely russeted (more like sandpaper) than GR and its less sweet/sour. EGR and Pomme Gris are similar based on my memory. My favorite of all of that type is Swayzie, but its pretty hard to find. Another one of that type is Rusty Coat. GR is in a different school of apple than these, it is in what I call the "yellow flesh" group - Orleans Reinette, Clochard, Glockenapfel, Roxbury Russet, Pitmaston Pineapple, etc: yellow flesh with lots of sweet and sour. I had GR/EGR mixed up for several years because the first "GR" I ate were in fact EGR, some places mix up those names. Maybe the comment you saw was when I was mixed up.

Max, enough of those are not triploids that there will be no pollination problem. Stayman are bigger based on the ones I have seen.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 8:37AM
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greenorchardmom(Ga Mts 7)

I prefer a loud sweet/tart complex apple
my mom likes a less strong aromatic sweet mellow one
I grow Sansa Liberty Honeycrisp Whitney for her
switched my Akane to a Pomme Gris for me

I happen to have tasting notes from Winesap & Ark Black
being related I compared them if you are interested...
W was very good sweet pleasant texture
with slight aromatics too mellow to detect but nice
Ark Black was stunning I do love a dark apple
the skin was waxy ok but a bit tough
flavor sweet compex rich very very good
aromatics so good like apples fried in brown sugar & butter
the little ancient mountain lady that I bought them from said:
both are good keepers AB a month or more longer
both good disease resist but W is not as fireblight resistant
W better for applebutter, sauce & juice
AB better for pies, cider & esp hard cider she winked
think maybe she was messing with me by then
I just smiled & bought the apples

    Bookmark   March 6, 2013 at 12:41PM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

I haven't posted here for a few years, but when I goggled something about Pomme Gris ripening times, I found the exact answer to this question - one that I had posted in 2010!!! Jellyman answered it, and when I came back to find out about what scotsmith and others are doing, I found this thread.

I got hit hard last year with fireblight as well. Finally tasted a Pomme Gris this year - wow! And a tree-ripened Mutsu blew away what the local big orchard offered up.

I love my orchard. It's a special place that satisfies an interest I've had since I was a boy - picking something yummy off a tree and eating it.

The last three years have been tough on both me and my orchard. I just couldn't muster the strength to go do the things that needed to be done. Lack of care = crappy fruit production.

Next year could be the best one yet.


    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 12:03PM
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alan haigh

Goldrush is resistant to many things, including certain insects, but not cedar apple rust.

You say you are looking for disease resistance but CAR is not hard to control and you are going to have to spray insects at the same time a fungicide needs to be applied anyway.

Before you dive in here I think you should post a question about obstacles to a successful harvest. If you think you are going to be able to plant trees and then pick fruit in a few years without any spray you are probably not going to be harvesting more than anticipation. That is the usual harvest of casual home growers.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 6:30AM
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