Growing a Apple tree

In our modern day supermarket, an apple is something that never disappears.

No matter what time of year it is there will be apples. But does that mean there is still a season for apples? I think so.

Not all apples will appear in the store at all times. You typically will find well know varieties like Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala in the stores all year round. But some varieties only appear for a short time and some only at a local orchard or farmer’s market.

Check out this beautiful display of heirloom apples at a produce market in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For me I like to only but apples when they are at their peak. That would be from about August until the start of spring. Below you will find my guide for shopping for apples at their peak.

I strictly buy local grown Michigan apples all the way until the winter. Then the majority of the winter apples I buy were grown in the state of Washington.


A beautiful basket of Paula Red apples. One of the first commercial varieties of the season here in Michigan. They quickly go from crisp and tart, to soft and sweet within a couple weeks.

This marks the beginning of the season. These early apples tend not to keep very long. Some I think if you looked at them wrong, would turn to crack or rot right before your eyes.

The early apples are dominated by tart ones, such as Transparent and Vista Bella. These tart apples are good for making applesauce, in fact I would say the Transparent apple is the best apple to make applesauce The apples break down fast and easily, leaving behind a sauce with a melt in your mouth texture.

Early Season Apples Great for Sauce

I got a food mill recently to make sauce with some Transparents. I love the food mill because you don’t have to peel the apples at all, it removes the peels for you. I make a lot of apple sauce at the beginning of the season. The best baking apples are yet to come.

As for out of hand eating, Paula Red and Gingergold are two great apples that are available in this time, but like their counterparts have a short shelf life. Both are excellent apple sauce apples


A display of SweeTango apples. True story I did a taste test with these apple once and 2 out of 3 people preferred them over Honeycrisp!

Now this is when things really begin to pick up. A good majority of the apples ripen in September.

This month features some of the best and most popular. Honeycrisp and it’s offspring SweeTango hit store shelves right around Labor Day. This is also when you need to get your McIntosh apples.

The peak of their season is right at the start of September, that is when they are more tart and crisp. Another popular apple, the sweet Gala are also at peak this time of year (learn more about Gala apple season)

I still like to make sauce in September (McIntosh are a great sauce apple). But if you are in the mood for baking, Cortland, Empire, and Rhode Island Greening apples are at their peak.

And don’t forget about the Jonathans, they too are a September ripener. Still the best pie apples are yet to come.


Spies for Pies – they say the Northern Spy is the best pie apple. I say they are right.

Now this is when you want to get your baking apples. Ida Red, Granny Smith, and Northern Spy apples all ripen by mid to late October. These are the best of the best for baking a pie or making an apple crisp. So dust off your favorite pie pan and get baking.

Fans of the sweet Gala apples should be changing over to buying Fuji and Cameo which are both sweet apples but are going to be more crisp this time of year than the Galas.


The last 2 months on the calendar are pretty slow going for apples. All the apples with good shelf lives will be available, but you don’t see many new varieties hit the market place. One exception, I found last year was the Opal apple, which is a crisp, sweet, yellow apple.


My favorite apple to eat in the winter by far is the Lady Alice variety. Crisp, sweet/tart with great flavor.

Now you might think winter would not be a time when a lot of varieties hit the market place, but that isn’t the case. There are a lot of apples making their debut in the winter months.

Most of these were harvested in October and placed into cold storage for either two reasons:

1) Because they will taste better as they age, without becoming too soft

2) To fill the void once the other popular apples are well past their prime

Some of the winter varieties include the Pinata, which is crisp apple with a great flavor that contains a hint of something tropical. It is grown in Washington, by Stemilt Growers. You also have the Lady Alice, Junami and Jazz apples.

Spring is the End

When the spring time comes, there isn’t much of in the way of apples. From this point until July is the time of year you will less likely to find apples in the house.

I might grab something from the store to make applesauce with early summer berries, but besides that it’s back to waiting until the first new apple hits the farmer’s market.

Frequently Asked Questions

I would like to end this post answering some of my most frequently asked questions. I will add to this list as more questions are asked

Do Granny Smith Apples Go Out of Season?

The question I am really going to be answering here is do Granny Smith apples disappear from the stores? Not really. Organic ones can be hard to find in the summer and at the start of fall.

Conventionally grown Granny Smith are easy to find year round. When the supply of the domestic crop decreases in the summer, there are always Granny Smith from places like New Zealand or Argentina.

Granny Smith are a late harvest variety. Typically they are one of the last apples an orchard will pick near the end of October, early depending on the area.

Interesting fact, I have heard of someone who had a Granny Smith tree in California, in which they were able to keep it on the tree to the point where it was still crisp, yet had some sweetness to it. Most other places it is grown either gets too cold or the fruit falls off the tree before that can take place.

Read More About Heirloom Apples

As I said at the top of this post, apples are available year round. It’s that fall season where you need to stock up. It’s when the rare varieties are more readily available.

Check your local farmer’s market or orchard to get a hold of some great apples. If you got yourself an extra fridge you could even store apples.

A good resource book you might want to consider for research is Apples of Uncommon Character. I have looked over several books on apples and it’s my favorite. The pictures inside are excellent. It’s the kind of book you want to have on your coffee table.

Disclaimer: This posts includes affiliate links. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. These are products and services I recommend because I use or trust them. Cookies will be used to track the affiliate links you click.

Your guide to 2018 apple harvest dates in Michigan

MLive photo by Emily Rose Bennett

By Emily Bingham | [email protected]

If you love apples, here’s some delicious news for you: Michigan apple crops are set to ripen right on schedule in 2018.

According to experts at Michigan State University Extension, the predicted apple harvest dates for this year are about average in the southern part of the state, and a little early in the northern regions.

A recent post on MSU Extension’s website explained that it seems unusual weather is the new norm for apple growers. For example, in addition to seeing a significantly earlier peak harvest, 2017’s apple crops were also reduced by a late frost. Unusual weather returned again in 2018, but this time, a very cool spring plus by a few searing-hot weeks in the summer should equal out to average harvest dates.

That said, the post noted, “if hot, stressful weather occurs in August or September, apple maturity will be advanced.”

Each summer, MSU Extension releases a list of projected peak harvest dates for Michigan’s apples. The predictions are based on ripening dates in Grand Rapids as a general guide. Read on for the 2018 predicted harvest dates for more than a dozen popular apple varieties grown in Michigan.

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Courtesy Michigan Apple Committee

Paula Red

Predicted peak harvest date: August 24

This tart, aromatic apple was discovered in Sparta, Michigan. Great for baking and for snacking out of hand.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: August 26

This early-season variety is best fresh, so don’t plan on storing it for long. It’s a cross between Golden Delicious and Albermarle Pippin; the flesh is crisp and the flavor is sweet-tart.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: September 10

This juicy, sweet apple is Michigan’s third most popular variety. It originated in New Zealand, and a patent for it wasn’t obtained in the U.S. until the 1970’s.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: September 14

A classic, and for good reason: This super-juicy variety can be used in everything from applesauce to pie, and it’s delicious for snacking fresh, too.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: September 18

Developed in Minnesota and patented in the late 1980’s, this relative newbie became wildly popular in a short time. Its sweet flavor and crisp flesh make it an ideal apple for eating fresh, but it also keeps fairly well for storage.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: September 24

A firm, sweet-tart variety that is great for snacking as well as baking. Boasts a decent shelf-life as well.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: September 26

A sweet and ever-so-slightly spiced heirloom variety that can come in shades of deep red to purple, depending on sun exposure. Excellent in juices and cider.

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Predicted peak harvest date: September 26

This large, aromatic apple is a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious. It has a sweet-tart flavor that makes it popular for desserts.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee

Golden Delicious

Predicted peak harvest date: September 28

Discovered in West Virginia, this sweet apple is a great choice for sauces, cider, pies and other desserts.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee

Red Delicious

Predicted peak harvest date: October 2

Love it or hate it, this is the superstar of the apple world: Originating on an Iowa orchard in 1880, the Red Delicious has long been among America’s most popular apples. It has a very mild, sweet flavor.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee

Ida Red

Predicted peak harvest date: October 9

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: October 14

This variety is the picture-perfect apple: big, round and bright red. Crunchy, mildly sweet and slightly floral, this is a preferred apple for cooking and baking.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: October 25

Developed in Japan from two American cultivars (Red Delicious and Ralls Janet), this crisp apple is refreshing and tart-sweet.

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Via Michigan Apple Committee


Predicted peak harvest date: October 25

Braeburn’s beautiful bi-colored skin and deep, rich flavors have made it a very popular commercial variety. Excellent eaten fresh as well as cooked into sweet or savory dishes.

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Predicted peak harvest date: November 1

This yellow-bronze beauty has a rich, sweet, complex flavor and a firm, crisp flesh. It’s also Illinois’ state fruit.)

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A post shared by Michigan Apple Committee (@michiganapples) on Jun 18, 2018 at 6:01am PDT

More Michigan apple news, including recipes and an apple farm finder, can be found online at the website for the Michigan Apple Committee,

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More about Michigan apples

9 heirloom apples to look for this fall

The internet absolutely loves this guy who catches apples with his teeth

This Michigan orchard grows the best apples you’ve never heard of

8 insider tips for picking Michigan apples

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MLive file photo

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Don’t look now, but it’s apple season! With over 7,500 apple varieties grown across the entire world, it’s difficult to remember which apples are in-season, which make the best pies, and which are best eaten raw. To help you out, we’ve listed some popular apples in the United States, when they’re in season, and how you can use them. Let’s get cooking!

The Best Apples for Baking (and Pie)

There’s nothing better than a slice of warm apple pie topped with some vanilla ice cream. It’s okay to let your mouth water a little bit.

When baking, you need to pick an apple with the appropriate texture. Spending time on perfecting a fall apple dish only to take a bite of mushy apple is, to say the least, quite a disappointment! To avoid this, make sure that you pick an apple that is crisp enough to withstand the oven, and that has a good balance of sweet and tart taste.

Remember, you can also mix multiple types of apples to create a variety of flavors — it never hurts to experiment a little!

Recommended Apples —

  • Granny Smith
  • Golden Delicious
  • Honeycrisp
  • Cortland
  • Empire
  • Jonathan

The Best Apples for Cider

One of our favorite parts about fall is when we see cider hit the stands in the grocery store. The sweet and spicy combination that’s unique to apple cider is the perfect companion to a crisp fall day. This year, we challenge you to make a batch of your own!

In order to get all the right flavors for a balanced cider (sweet, bitter, sharp), apple cider typically requires a blend of apples. This chart shows a standard ration of the three flavors to use when making a hearty cider. If it’s your first time making cider, try this simple recipe.

Recommended Apples —

  • Gala
  • Fuji
  • Winesap
  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Honeycrisp

The Best Apples for Applesauce

You can really use any apples you would like when making applesauce, but for convenience we recommend soft apples. Not only will they be easier to cut, but they’ll also cook faster than harder apples.

Applesauce is one of our favorite fall treats because you can adjust your recipe as needed, adding more cinnamon here, a little nutmeg there. Make a big batch, refrigerate, and enjoy!

Recommended Apples —

  • Cortland
  • Jonagold
  • Winesap
  • Fuji
  • Granny Smith

The Best Apples to Eat Raw

There’s nothing worse than biting into a subpar apple. Although fall is the time in which apples are in season, some are more tasty when eaten raw, whereas other apples might be better in applesauces or pies.

The first thing to remember is that certain apples are in season during certain months. So, for the freshest taste, pick apples that are at their peak.

Recommended Apples —

  • Honeycrisp
  • Braeburn
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Golden Delicious
  • McIntosh
  • Empire

Apple Varieties by Season

We all know that apples are in season in the fall, but what some might not know is which part of fall. Some varieties are best in late August, whereas others are at their peak in November. Below are different apple varieties, organized by when they’re in season.

Summer Apples (poor storage apples) —

  • Earligold
    • In season:mid- to-late-July
    • Flavor: tart
    • Must refrigerate
  • Hawaii
    • In season: mid- to-late-July
    • Flavor: tart
    • Must refrigerate
  • Rambo
    • In season:mid- to-late-July
    • Flavor: tart
    • Must refrigerate
  • Akane
    • In season: late July to late August
    • Flavor: tart
  • Mollie’s Delicious
    • In season: mid-August to mid-September
    • Flavor: sweet

Fall Apples (good storage apples) —

  • Gala
    • In season: mid-August to late October
    • Flavor: sweet
  • Honeycrisp
    • In season: mid-August to late September
    • Flavor: sweet + tart
  • Empire
    • In season: late August to mid-October
    • Flavor: sweet
  • Jonathan
    • In season: early September to mid-November
    • Flavor: tart
  • Cortland
    • In season: early September to mid-November
    • Flavor: sweet
  • Red Delicious
    • In season: mid-September to mid-November
    • Flavor: sweet
  • Jonagold:
    • In season: mid-September to mid-November
    • Flavor: sweet

Winter Apples (best storage apples) —

  • Melrose
    • In season: mid-September to late October
    • Flavor: tart
  • Ida Red
    • In season: mid-September to mid-November
    • Flavor: tart
  • Turley Winesap
    • In season: late September to mid-November
    • Flavor: tart
  • Mutsu
    • In season: late September to late October
    • Flavor: sweet + tart
  • Stayman Winesap
    • In season: early October to mid-November
    • Flavor: sweet + tart
  • Fuji
    • In season: early October to mid-November
    • Flavor: sweet
  • Granny Smith
    • In season: early October to mid-November
    • Flavor: sour
  • Black Twig
    • In season: early October to mid-November
    • Flavor: tart

Mouth watering? Check out our Holiday Cookbook for over 40 recipes >>

Forget Red Delicious: Here Are The Apples You Should Use In Everything

At first blush, apples might seem pretty boring (that’s the fruit that got mankind expelled from paradise?) but a perfectly crisp, sweet and tart apple, fresh from the tree, is a beautiful thing — but each variety has its strengths and uses.

Photos by Jackson’s Orchard, Kirinohana, Claire Lower, JeffreyW, and Japen Go.

There are a ton of apples out there, and you shouldn’t be afraid to get out there and explore each and every one. If all you’ve had is Red Delicious (more like “Red Dumbface” am I right?), you are missing out, my friend. Next time you find yourself at the market, count the types of apples. If you’re at a grocery store, there will probably be four or five, but the farmer’s market? You will find tens of apples, literally tens. (As in like, 10-20.) The traits that make one type of apple great for eating out of hand (delicate, fresh flavour and lots of juice) can make it less than ideal in a pie (aka “mush city”).

But, as is the case with many culinary questions, there is sometimes more than one “right” answer, and personal preference can trump empirical data. (For instance, my mother roasts her Brussels sprouts until they are mush. Is this wrong? Yes, it is a crime against Brussels sprouts, but yelling Alton Brown quotes at her isn’t going to change her preference.) So, instead of lecturing you on what apples you “should” be eating, baking, and drinking, I’m going to arm you with the knowledge that let’s you make better apple choices, because “the more you know” applies even to apples.

So Fresh, So Crisp: Galas, Honeycrisps, and Fujis for Snacking

Apples are, quite possibly, the easiest snack in the world. You don’t have to peel them; simply rinse and get to chomping. Not all varieties are well-suited for fresh eating, though. The perfect apple should be a balance of fresh sweetness and bright acidity, with crisp, juicy flesh and that distinct “appley” aroma brought to us by esters. Basically, the opposite of the mealy, one-note, stupid stupid Red Delicious.

According to food writer Harold McGee, the best “dessert” or “eating” apples have a pH of 3.4 and are around 15% sugar. This isn’t the most useful information (unless you have some sort of food laboratory hidden behind your bookshelf), but it is interesting. So which ones should you buy for putting directly into your beautiful mouth? According to this adorably homely you-pick website that I’ve been obsessed with for years, the best fresh apples are Gala, Honeycrisp, Cameo, Pink Ladies and Fuji. These are the apples you want on your cheeseboards, my friend. They don’t show Granny Smith (which can have a pH of 3.3-3.9) much love, but if you’re like me and love yourself a tart apple, you really can’t go wrong with the Granny. (Bonus: sprinkle a little salt on there. I don’t know why but my grandmother salts pretty much all of her fruit and it really takes it to a delicious place. My grandmother is a genius.)

Get Baked: Golden Delicious for Desserts

When cooking apples, you’re looking for two things: something that won’t break down into a mushy mess, and something that will maintain its flavour. I’m not sure that there’s one single perfect baking apple, but most certified apple experts™ would agree that the Golden Delicious comes close.

In a very extensive (and very delicious) pie study conducted over at Serious Eats, the great J. Kenji Lopez-Alt found that apples of this variety had a great sweet and tart, buttery flavour, but that they were slightly lacking in the texture department. Still, he gave the Golden an 8 out of 10, which is a very respectable rating coming from a man of such exacting taste and opinions. (Guess what the stupid Red Delicious got? A “1”! Suck it, Red D.)

You might think the solution is as simple as mixing in a firmer, less flavorful apple, but when it comes to pies, Kenji is a one-apple man, describing pies with two apple varieties as “a pie that’s got nice firm chunks of apple interspersed with brown apple mush.” Instead, he firms the Goldens up by par-cooking them to convert the pectin (the fruit “glue” that helps the apple keep its shape) into a more heat-stable form, preventing liquid from leaking out and turning your pie into a soupy mess:

The easiest way to do this? Pour boiling water over your sliced apples and let them rest for about 10 minutes before drying them, tossing them with cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch (to help thicken their juices), and piling them into the pie shell and baking them.

(You can also strengthen pectin’s bonds by adding lemon juice — pectin does better in acidic environments — but you’ll end up with a lemony pie, which might be ok with you.)

Of course, there are other schools of thought on mixing apples. America’s Test Kitchen is a fan of apple mush, and their recipe relies on the McIntosh’s textural tendencies to provide “a nice, juicy base for the harder Grannies.” Don’t know who to trust? Make both and see which you like better. It should be noted, however, that ATK’s recipe was engineered to be made with apples you can get at any grocery store at any time of the year, while Kenji’s is meant to be made during Golden Delicious season, preferably with apples you’ve picked yourself just hours before, so maybe save the ATK pie until the end of apple season.

Of course, no one is saying you can’t experiment with your own apple combinations. Want to see how an apple will hold up without baking an entire pie? Test them out à la McGee (he gives us so much) and wrap a few slices in foil and bake for fifteen minutes, or microwave them wrapped in plastic wrap until the plastic balloons fill with steam.

Smooth as Butter: Boil Down Braeburns (and Others)

Apple butter is basically applesauce on steroids. You make applesauce, but then you keep going until the sugars caramelize and it gets all nice and spreadable. Then spread it on bread, spoon it into yogurt, or dollop it on pork chops. You could start with store bought applesauce, but homemade is most likely going to taste better, especially if you start with the best-tasting apples.

Recommendations for which apples make the best butter are kind of all over the place. Some advocate the use of only the softest apples such as Braeburns, McIntosh, Fujis, and Courtlands. While it is true that softer apples will cook down faster, the same, firmer apples that are so good in pies (such as Yellow Delicious) can be apple butter if you cook it long enough (and believe in yourself). The only apples that aren’t really recommended are the harder varieties like Rome, and the too-mealy Red Delicious. (For a super easy apple butter that will make your home smell divine, use this Crockpot recipe.

Liquid Assets: Honeycrisps, Galas, and Cameos for Juice and Cider

There are two ways to drink your apple-a-day. You can juice the bastards and enjoy the resulting liquid in all of their fresh, unpasteurized glory, or ferment them. Guess which one I prefer?

For plain, healthful juice, I would recommend sticking to the same apples you enjoy the raw flavour of. These would be again be your Gala, Honeycrisp, Cameo, and Fuji, with Honeycrisps giving you the most bang for your buck, liquid-wise. There’s also no reason you can’t make a blend here. Need to up the sweetness without adding in much else? This is the only time I will recommend a Red Delicious. Need more acid? Granny’s got your back. The only apples you should really avoid when juicing are the dryer varieties, like Rome and Arkansas Black. To juice your apples, throw them in a juicer (duh) or steam or simmer the juice out of them using these instructions.

Now that we’ve gotten the boring part out of the way, let’s talk apple booze. There are multiple ways to go about this, and it’s a topic you can really sink your teeth into, but at its simplest, you just need to throw some yeast into some juice and letting the little buggers convert sugar into alcohol. Since you want your juice to ferment, you need to provide the yeasties with a good bit of sugar. According to Serious Eats, this means that half of your juice should come from apples with a high sugar content and low acid (think Golden Delicious, Johngold, Macoun, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, and Honeycrisp). Once you have at least 50% sweet juice, you can balance it out with sharp apples (like Granny Smith or Rhode Island Greenings if you can find them), just keep their contribution to around a quarter of the juice. The remaining juice can come from sweet apples, or semi-sweets, like McIntosh, Baldwins, Cortlands.

The easiest, laziest, most elegantly schlocky way to accomplish this is to use my method of throwing a gram of champagne yeast into 2 litres of juice. (This actually works with any juice that has at least 20 grams of sugar per serving and is free of preservatives.) Just pour the yeast in a (clean) bottle with the juice, pop on an airlock, and let it go for a couple of days. The article linked above can walk you through details like how to calculate A.B.V., but it’s really quite simple. If you want to greatly decrease the chance of off-flavours, add a crushed Campden Tablet (or a portion of a tablet, depending on your volume) to the juice before adding the yeast. This will kill any wild yeast you might have floating around in there (which can mess up your flavour profile), but won’t “sterilize” your fresh apple juice.

If you wish to enjoy a more, ahem, refined product, is your new best friend. On it, Jessica Shabatura will gently guide you through the whole process, from sterilization, to choosing the right yeast, to carbonation and bottling. Her method is slightly more complicated than mine (and requires a few more ingredients and supplies), but the outcome is more certain.

So, how do you like them apples? (Sorry, but I’ve been waiting over a thousand words to say that.) Whether in pies, eaten fresh, or fermented into hard cider, apples are the fruit that keeps on giving. I still don’t think they were worth getting kicked out of Eden for, but they definitely aren’t boring…as long as you stay away from that @%$USing Red Delicious.

McIntosh Apple Tree Info: Tips For Growing McIntosh Apples

If you’re looking for an apple variety that thrives in cold climates, try growing McIntosh apples. They are excellent either eaten fresh or made into delicious applesauce. These apple trees provide an early harvest in cooler areas. Interested in learning how to grow McIntosh apples? The following article contains McIntosh apple tree info, including McIntosh apple care.

McIntosh Apple Tree Info

McIntosh apple trees were discovered by John McIntosh in 1811, purely by chance when he was clearing land on his farm. The apple was given the family name of McIntosh. Although no one knows exactly what cultivar is the parent to McIntosh apple trees, the similar flavor suggests Fameuse, or Snow apple.

This unexpected discovery became integral to apple production throughout Canada, as well as the Midwest and Northeast United States. McIntosh is hardy to USDA zone 4, and are the designated apple of Canada.

Apple employee Jef Raskin, named the Macintosh computer after the McIntosh apple but deliberately misspelled the name.

About Growing McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples are bright red with a blush of green. The percentage of green to red skin depends on when the apple is harvested. The earlier the fruit is harvested, the greener the

skin will be and vice versa for late harvested apples. Also, the later the apples are harvested, the sweeter they will be. McIntosh apples are exceptionally crisp and juicy with bright white flesh. At harvest, the flavor of McIntosh is quite tart but the taste mellows during cold storage.

McIntosh apple trees grow at a moderate rate and at maturity will attain heights of around 15 feet (5 m). They bloom in early to mid-May with a profusion of white blossoms. The resulting fruit ripens by mid to late September.

How to Grow McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples should be situated in full sun with well-draining soil. Prior to planting the tree, soak the roots in water for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the tree and 2 feet (61 cm.) deep. After the tree has soaked for 24 hours, check the depth of the hole by placing the tree inside. Make sure that the tree graft will not be covered by soil.

Gently spread out the tree roots and begin filling in the hole. When 2/3 of the hole is filled, tamp the soil down to remove any air pockets. Water the tree and then continue filling in the hole. When the hole is filled, tamp down the soil.

In a 3-foot (just under a meter) circle, lay a good layer of mulch around the tree to retard weeds and retain moisture. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the tree trunk.

McIntosh Apple Care

To produce fruit, the apples need to be cross-pollinated with a different apple variety of a crabapple.

Young apple trees should be pruned to create a strong framework. Prune scaffold branches by trimming them back. This hardy tree is relatively low maintenance once established. Like all fruit trees, it should be pruned out each year to remove any dead, damaged or diseases limbs.

Fertilize newly planted and young McIntosh trees three times per year. One month after planting a new tree, fertilize with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Fertilize again in May and again in June. In the second year of the tree’s life, fertilize the tree in the early spring and then again in April, May, and June with nitrogen fertilizer such as 21-0-0.

Water the apple deeply twice a week when the weather is dry.

Inspect the tree every so often for any signs of disease or insects.

McIntosh (apple) facts for kids

“McIntosh” redirects here. For the type of computer, see Apple Macintosh. For other uses, see Macintosh.

The McIntosh (pronunciation: /ˈmækᵻntɒʃ/ MAK-in-tosh), McIntosh Red, or colloquially the Mac, is an apple cultivar, the national apple of Canada. The fruit has red and green skin, a tart flavour, and tender white flesh, which ripens in late September. In the 20th century it was the most popular cultivar in Eastern Canada and New England, and is considered an all-purpose apple, suitable both for cooking and eating raw. Apple Inc. employee Jef Raskin named the Macintosh line of personal computers after the fruit.

John McIntosh discovered the original McIntosh sapling on his Dundela farm in Upper Canada in 1811. He and his wife bred it, and the family started grafting the tree and selling the fruit in 1835. In 1870, it entered commercial production, and became common in northeastern North America after 1900. While still important in production, the fruit’s popularity fell in the early 21st century in the face of competition from varieties such as the Gala. According to the US Apple Association website it is one of the fifteen most popular apple cultivars in the United States.


  • Description
  • Cultivation
  • History
  • Cultural significance


The McIntosh or McIntosh Red (nicknamed the “Mac”), is the most popular apple cultivar in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. It also sells well in eastern Europe.

A spreading tree that is moderately vigorous, the McIntosh bears annually or in alternate years. The tree is hardy to at least USDA Hardiness zone 4a, or −34 °C (−29 °F). 50% or more of its flowers die at −3.1 °C (26.4 °F) or below.

A McIntosh illustrated in 1901

The McIntosh apple is a small- to medium-sized round fruit with a short stem. It has a red and green skin that is thick, tender, and easy to peel. Its white flesh is sometime tinged with green or pink and is juicy, tender, and firm, soon becoming soft. The flesh is easily bruised.

The fruit is considered “all-purpose”, suitable both for eating raw and for cooking. It is used primarily for dessert, and requires less time to cook than most cultivars. It is usually blended when used for juice.

The fruit grows best in cool areas where nights are cold and autumn days are clear; otherwise, it suffers from poor colour and soft flesh, and tends to fall from the tree before harvest. It stores for two to three months in air, but is prone to scald, flesh softening, chilling sensitivity, and coprinus rot. It can become mealy when stored at temperatures below 2 °C (36 °F). The fruit is optimally stored in a controlled atmosphere in which temperatures are between 1.7 and 3.0 °C (35.1 and 37.4 °F), and air content is 1.5–4.5% oxygen and 1–5% carbon dioxide; under such conditions, the McIntosh will keep for five to eight months.


The McIntosh is most commonly cultivated in Canada, the United States, and eastern Europe. The parentage of the McIntosh is unknown, but the Snow Apple (or Fameuse), Fall St Lawrence, and Alexander have been speculated. It is one of the top five apple cultivars used in cloning, and research indicates the McIntosh combines well for winter hardiness.

If unsprayed, the McIntosh succumbs easily to apple scab, which may lead to entire crops being unmarketable. It has generally low susceptibility to fire blight, powdery mildew, cedar-apple rust, quince rust, and hawthorn rust. It is susceptible to fungal diseases such as Nectria canker, brown rot, black rot, race 1 of apple rust (but resists race 2). It is moderately resistant to Pezicula bark rot and Alternaria leaf blotch, and resists brown leaf spot well.

The McIntosh is one of the most common cultivars used in cloning; a 1996 study found that the McIntosh was a parent in 101 of 439 cultivars selected, more than any other founding clone. It was used in over half of the Canadian cultivars selected, and was used extensively in the United States and Eastern Europe as well; rarely was it used elsewhere. Offsprings of the McIntosh include: the Jersey Black hybrid the Macoun, the Newtown Pippin hybrid the Spartan, the Cortland; the Empire; the Jonamac, the Jersey Mac, the Lobo, the Melba, the Summered, the Tydeman’s Red, and possibly the Paula Red.


An apple in a market.

Apple trees were introduced to Canada at the Habitation at Port-Royal (modern Port Royal, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia) as early as 1606 by French settlers. Following its introduction, apple cultivation spread inland.

The McIntosh’s discoverer, John McIntosh (1777 – c. 1845–46), left his native Mohawk Valley home in New York State in 1796 to follow his love, Dolly Irwin, who had been taken to Upper Canada by her Loyalist parents. She had died by the time he found her, but he settled as a farmer in Upper Canada. He married Hannah Doran in 1801, and they farmed along the Saint Lawrence River until 1811, when McIntosh exchanged the land he had with his brother-in-law Edward Doran for a plot in Dundela.

While clearing the overgrown plot McIntosh discovered some wild apple seedlings on his farm. He transplanted the seedlings next to his house. One of the seedlings bore particularly good fruit. The McIntosh grandchildren dubbed the fruit it produced “Granny’s apple”, as they often saw their grandmother taking care of the tree in the orchard. McIntosh was selling seedlings from the tree by 1820, but they did not produce fruit of the quality of the original.

John McIntosh’s son Allan (1815–1899) learned grafting about 1835; with this cloning the McIntoshes could maintain the distinctive properties of the fruit of the original tree. Allan and brother Sandy (1825–1906), nicknamed “Sandy the Grafter”, increased production and promotion of the cultivar. Earliest sales were in 1835, and in 1836 the cultivar was renamed the “McIntosh Red”; it entered commercial production in 1870. The apple became popular after 1900, when the first sprays for apple scab were developed. A house fire damaged the original McIntosh tree in 1894; it last produced fruit in 1908, and died and fell over in 1910.

Horticulturist William Tyrrell Macoun of the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa is credited with popularizing the McIntosh in Canada. He stated the McIntosh needed “no words of praise”, that it was “one of the finest appearing and best dessert apples grown”. The Macoun, a hybrid of the McIntosh and Jersey Black grown by the Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, was named for him in 1923. In the northeastern United States the McIntosh replaced a large number of Baldwins that were killed in a severe winter in 1933–34. In the late 1940s, Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Andrew McNaughton told Soviet Minister for Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko that the McIntosh Red was Canada’s best apple.

The McIntosh made up 40% of the Canadian apple market by the 1960s; and at least thirty varieties of McIntosh hybrid were known by 1970. Its popularity later waned in the face of competition from foreign imports; in the first decade of the 21st century, the Gala accounted for 33% of the apple market in Ontario to the McIntosh’s 12%, and the Northern Spy had become the preferred apple for pies. Production remained important to Ontario, however, as 30,000,000 kilograms (66,000,000 lb) of McIntoshes were produced in 2010.

The original tree discovered by John McIntosh bore fruit for more than ninety years, and died in 1910. Horticulturalists from the Upper Canada Village heritage park saved cuttings from the last known first-generation McIntosh graft before it died in 2011 for producing clones.

Cultural significance

Apple Inc.’s Macintosh line of personal computers was named after the fruit.

The McIntosh has been designated the national apple of Canada. A popular subscription funded a plaque placed 100 metres (110 yd) from the original McIntosh tree in 1912. The Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board replaced the plaque with a more descriptive one in 1962, and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada put up another in a park nearby in 2001, by a painted mural commemorating the fruit.

Apple Inc. employee Jef Raskin named the Macintosh line of personal computers after the McIntosh. He deliberately misspelled the name to avoid conflict with the hi-fi equipment manufacturer McIntosh Laboratory. Apple’s attempt in 1982 to trademark the name Macintosh was nevertheless denied due to the phonetic similarity between Apple’s product and the name of the hi-fi manufacturer. Apple licensed the rights to the name in 1983, and bought the trademark in 1986.

In 1995 the Royal Canadian Mint commissioned Toronto artist Roger Hill to design a commemorative silver dollar for release in 1996. Mint engraver Sheldon Beveridge engraved the image of a group of three McIntoshes and a McIntosh blossom which adorn one side with a ribbon naming the variety. An inscription on the edge reads “1796 Canada Dollar 1996”. Issued sheathed in a silver cardboard sleeve in a black leatherette case, 133,779 pieces of the proof were sold, as well as 58,834 pieces of the uncirculated version in a plastic capsule and silver sleeve.

McIntosh Apple Tree

Light, Tangy Flavor in Just One Year

Why McIntosh Apple Trees?

Our McIntosh Apple Tree is famous for its fresh fruit, which boasts a light, tangy flavor and distinctive red skin. Plus, since this tree produces heavily and ripens early in the season, you’ll get fruit in one year or less.
Enjoy your McIntosh Apples fresh or use them for baking and cooking in pies and sauces, or even apple cider. Not only will you get your fruit quickly, but you can also grow it organically. You won’t have to worry about spraying your trees with chemicals and pesticides. Just plant your tree and pick your fruit right off the branches!

Plus, because our McIntosh doesn’t have serious issues with pests or diseases, and boasts hardy strength, it’s easy to grow. You get healthful, strong growth from your McIntosh…with or without a green thumb.

Why is Better
Our McIntosh Apple Trees are more mature trees that have been trained to produce a branching structure. This requires an extra year of work for us, but the results you experienced will be dramatic. As a matter of fact, some of them are already producing apples in the nursery.
Begin harvesting your McIntosh Apples as soon as the first season under ideal conditions – get your own McIntosh Apple Tree today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Full sun and well-drained soil help your McIntosh Apple thrive, so select an area with both (6 hours of sunlight per day). Now that you have found your ideal planting location for the McIntosh Apple, there are some basic steps for planting the tree. Place your tree, tamp down the soil as you fill the hole to prevent air pockets, and water to settle. Finally, mulch to preserve moisture.
*Tip: Make sure your mulch is not touching the base of the trunk.

2. Watering: Your McIntosh Apple will benefit from a regular watering each week. You may need to water more often in times of extreme heat or drought. The soil surrounding your tree should be moist, but never saturated. If you’re not sure when to water, simply check the soil about 2 or 3 inches down – if it’s dry here, it’s time to water.

3. Pruning: Once your tree has become established and is starting to bear fruit, it will need some periodic, moderate pruning. Only prune the tree during times of dormancy, making sure to remove any vigorous, upright stems. Weak, damaged or dead branches should also be removed.

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McIntosh Apple Tree

McIntosh Apple is famous not for its crunch, but rather its snap. From the first bite, the classic MacIntosh snap of the skin alerts you to prepare for the perfect blend of tartness to sugar that is so much the reason for its popularity.

McIntosh Apple tree produces heavy crops of small to medium-sized apples that ripen and are ready for harvest around mid-September. Often, McIntosh Apple crops persist into early winter, as this tree is hardy and can easily withstand colder temperatures.

The tree is cold hardy, but it’s also adapted to a wide range of climates. Recent studies have determined McIntosh to have a low chill requirement, as well. Fruit sets have been reported into what would be considered extremely low chill zones 10 and 11a.

The classic apple tree in the landscape, the McIntosh is a decorative addition to your yard with its show of delicate apple blossoms in early spring. As the apples begin to develop, you’ll enjoy watching as your fruit transition into red over green, decorating the tree amid the vibrant dark green leaves.

When you’re craving apples at the end of the summer, growing your own McIntosh tree is here to satisfy your sweet tooth. Not only do McIntosh apples grow from lovely trees, these delicious apples ripen early in the season, making them a convenient go-to snack. These apples are great for eating.

Classic All Purpose McIntosh Apple Tree

The sweet tart taste and tender white flesh of the McIntosh Apple makes it great for snacking. But there is a lot more to this unique variety than just fresh eating. The “Mac’s” were the first of the all-purpose apples.

McIntosh Apples have the perfect balance of acid to sugar. This makes them great for butter, jelly and cider. And no county fair would never be the same without a McIntosh candied apple on a stick.

For bakers, McIntosh cooks down into a soft consistency. Slice and mix with other varieties, such as Winesap, or Gala Apples to produce the perfect filling for the world’s best Apple Pie. And there is nothing that beats the flavor of a “Mac” apple sauce.

Don’t delay in getting this tree planted in your garden. The sooner you plant, the faster you’ll begin enjoying the wonderful fresh fruit harvest from your backyard.

Pollination Partners for McIntosh Apples

McIntosh requires a pollinator, so when planting remember to think of a later or earlier ripening variety to extend your harvest of apples. Be sure to select varieties that are recommended for the USDA Growing zone you are planting in. Enter your zip code in the Zone Finder to see what zone you are in.

An early ripener, McIntosh apple tree is one of the earliest of the apples to ripen. When planning your selection, don’t forget to plant a few Apple varieties. McIntosh will be your early ripening variety.

To extend your season of harvest, plant the McIntosh with the mid-season Winesap and a late season Arkansas Black Apple. You’ll gain an heirloom harvest of some of the finest eating apples known.

#ProPlantTips for Care

This crisp, juicy Apple grows best in well-drained soil with full sun exposure. A moderate amount of moisture is required to ensure the McIntosh tree produces a full crop of delicious, ripe apples.

You’ll want to plant your McIntosh where it will get plenty of sunlight, as full sun exposure is needed to grow. Fruiting time can take anywhere from three to five years, but if you have a little patience, the apples this tree produces are well worth the wait.

McIntosh Apple can be maintained to any height with pruning. It is always recommended that fruit trees be maintained below 10 feet for ease of maintenance and harvesting.

All apples require a certain amount of care in different regions of the country. Check with your local Ag Extension Agency to find out apple care recommendations for your area. Nature Hills carries a wide range of natural and conventional products to help with your fruit tree care.

When planting, mix some HSU Growing Supply Leaf Compost into soils with low organic matter to get your tree off to great start, In any soil, the Fertilome Root Stimulator will aide in the quick adjustment of its new home.

McIntosh Apple was a chance seedling discovered by John McIntosh in the early 1800s, while clearing his property in Fall St Lawrence and Alexander, Canada. By the beginning of the 20th century, the McIntosh Apple was the #1 variety planted in Canada and throughout the upper Midwest and East Coast in the United States.

Order one of America’s favorite apple trees today!

Recommended pollinators: Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith

Chilling Requirements: Moderate to High 500 to 1000 hours

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