Apple Top Lists

I found these on an old GW thread of mine, they may be of interest.
Maybe others know of some lists from experts they’d like to put in this thread.

Roger D. Way’s Top 20:

1. Spigold
2. Macoun
3. Golden Delicious
4. Esopus Spitzenburg
5. Empire
6. Jonagold
7. Jonathan
8. Yellow Newtown
9. Northern Spy
10. Patricia
11. Red Melba
12. Cox Orange
13. Golden Russet
14. Orleans Reinette
15. Spartan
16. Tydeman Early
17. Mutsu
18. Tompkins King
19. Spencer
20. Kidds Orange Red

Note: This list is from 1966

Tom Burford’s Top 20:

American Beauty
Blue Pearmain
Cox’s Orange Pippin
Esopus Spitzenburg
Grimes Golden
Kidd’s Orange Red
Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin
Pitmaston Pineapple
Ribston Pippin
Summer Rambo
Virginia Beauty
White Winter Pearmain
Winesap (old)
Yellow Bellflower
Zabergau Reinette

Ed Fackler’s Top 20:

  1. Sweet 16 – expensive bourbon with a shot of vanilla! Much easier to grow up north.
  2. Spigold – Complex, intense and very juicy (difficult to grow because of its Spy habits).
  3. Suncrisp – Intense “cox” flavor with more sugars.
  4. Freyberg – Banana-like with a touch of overripe raspberry.
  5. Hokuto – While subject to season (requires much sun late), it is a mix of Mutsu acids with Fuji sugars.
  6. GoldRush – Battery acid off the tree—heavenly at Christmas and keeps through May if stored in plastic.
  7. Braeburn – Murder to grow (sus. to every apple problem), but possesses enough complex acids to make it great.
  8. Jonagold – For the new-to-the-game (of apple flavors), it is a very pleasing mix of dead-ripe Jonathan and sugars of Golden. Easy to eat.
  9. Rubinette – A sweeter, milder (and juicier) version of Suncrisp, but ripens some 2 weeks earlier.
  10. Newtown – (Not to eat prior to Jan. 1) At this time, it is simply great, many subtle complexities.
  11. ArkCharm – Great for about 17.5 mins. off the tree (no storage). Rich and easy to eat.
  12. Orin – Wonderful in some (hot) seasons, bland in others. A mild pineapple-like flavor in most years.
  13. Shizuka – A sweeter and juicier version of Mutsu which ripens about 10 da. prior.
  14. NovaSpy – Great complexity (which slight vanilla-bourbon) and easier to grow than most Spy sibs.
  15. Sundowner – The highest flavored of the new “Austrailian” group which can only be grown near the equator (due to extremely late ripening)!
  16. Honeycrisp – For those who equate flavor with its wonderful texture.
  17. Fuji – See descrip. of Honeycrisp.
  18. Hudson’s Gold Gem – When properly picked, it compares to really great european pear (Collette, Magness, etc.). Difficult to grow due to shy production and fruit cracking.
  19. Melrose – When starved for n., it is one of the finest tart apples I’ve eaten, otherwise not much.
  20. Keepsake – Very shy, but flavor is great on the one apple you get every five years or so!

Tom Vorbeck / Applesource:


1 Fuji – Best keeping sweet apple in the world
2 Gala – Best very sweet early fall apple
3 Honey Crisp – Very crisp, large, hardy
4 Golden Delicious – The standard yellow sweet apple
5 Red Delicious – The standard red sweet apple (avoid Starkrimson strain)
6 Jonagold – World’s best, but short storage-life, frost-tender
7 Cameo – Poorly colored, best Red Delicious type (Untested)
8 Mutsu – Greenish yellow, cocktail of flavors, frost tender
9 Mollie’s Delicious – Large, crisp, sweet (does best on dwarf trees)
10 Creston – Resembles Jonagold; crisper but uglier; (Untested)
11 Sansa – An early Gala-type, low vigor
12 Golden Russet – Medium-sized, antique russet with a dense sugary flesh
13 Orin – Crisp, greenish-yellow, aromatic; #3 in Japan


1 Goldrush – Scab resistant, intense, Fuji class keeper, reliable
2 Braeburn – Best texture and flavor, moderate keeper
3 Melrose – Jonathan x Delicious, excellent pies & caramel apples
4 Swiss Gourmet – Best texture, mostly red, some russet, frost tender
5 Rubinette – Golden x Cox, a “best” Cox-like flavor
6 Spigold – Spy x Golden, huge and wonderful; growth problems
7 Jonalicious – Crisp, juicy, somewhat sour; growth problems
8 Suncrisp – Large, yellow, intense, (Cortland x Cox) x G.D.


1 Jonathan – Standard Midwest cooking apple
2 Akane – An early Jonathan-type
3 Idared – Best keeping Jonathan type
4 Newtown Pippin – Light green, medium-sized, best quality in December
5 Stayman Winesap – Best of the Winesaps; cracking problems
6 Liberty – Scab resistant McIntosh-type
7 Esopus Spitzenberg – Highest ranked sour apple at most apple tastings, short lived
8 Ashmead’s Kernel – Ugly russet; intense; frost tender
9 Monark – Large, crisp, pies and tarts; preharvest drop problems
10 Gravenstein – The standard late summer cooker
11 Arkansas Black – Gorgeous, hard, keeper, Winesap-type
12 Calville Blanc – Classic French cooker
13 Lodin – July sauce, large apples
14 Yellow Transparent – July sauce apple, “smoother” sauce than Lodi
15 Granny Smith – Large green keeper; barely matures here
16 Northern Spy – Premium processing cultivar; a best antique


Your post is a great help, thank’s! :+1:


Lot of great apples in those lists :+1: Thanks for those!

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That’s been my experience with Keepsake as well. Great eating apple, but the damn thing has only produced a dozen or so apples total (been in the ground since 2013)


Wish i would have seen these lists 2 years ago when i planted all of my apple trees. I guess I have to plant more now. Eds top choice of sweet 16 makes me want this one for sure. Took it off my ordering list because so many people were describing it as black licorice flovered.


I found the lists in The New Cider Maker’s Handbook (Claude Jolicoeur) very helpful, as the lists are broken into Regions and created by growers in those parts of the country growing apples to produce cider. The lists are: (1.) Quebec (Cold Hardiness Zone 4), (2.) New England: Steve Wood, Farnum Hill Ciders, (3.) Canadian Maritime Provinces: John Brett, Tideview Cider, (4.) British Columbia And Pacific NorthWest Region: Derek Bisset, (5.) Colorado And Rocky Mountain Region: Dick Dunn, (6.) South And Mid-Atlantic Regions: Chuck Shelton, Vintage Virginia Apples, and lastly (7.) Great Lakes Region: Gary Awdey.

In the list for his own region, Jolicoeur breaks his list down into “first-season” cider varieties, “late-season,” and also discusses varieties for fresh eating, cooking, and making sauces and jellies. He talks about having a small mixed orchard, where some trees may be multi-grafted, some crabapples, & etc… I followed his list for Quebec, as it is close to my region of Montana. Some of his recommendations, however, proved difficult to find, and some did not survive my attempt at grafting. And so I have about half his list, a few from the Colorado And Rocky Mountain list, and plus a good many others not on either list I am trying.

The Quebec list is as follows:
“First-season” Bilodeau (crab), Douce de Charlevoix, Bulmer’s Norman, and Lobo (though he says it is sensitive to scab).
“Second-season” Banane amere, Yarlington Mill, Belle de Boskoop, Golden Russet, Golden Nugget, Reine des Reinettes, Rubinette, Cortland, Liberty, Honeygold.
For the crabs, he suggests Dolgo, Kerr, and Chestnut, and for pears: Patten (fresh eating), Golden Spice, and Thorn (perry and cider blends).

For my own region of Montana, I also looked at the Colo. Rocky Mtn region list:
Baldwin, Cortland, Golden Russet, White Jersey, Somerset Redstreak, Sweet Copin, Redfield, Blenheim Orange, Kingston Black, and Bulmer’s Norman. Dick Dunn the creator of that list said he excluded (because of fireblight problems) Yarlington Mill, Brown Snout, and Harry Master’s Jersey.

Those lists were a starting point for me, and I have added others through some research which I have started growing. My own list for Montana (Zone 4b, or maybe in reality Zone 3) is as follows:
Ashmead’s Kernel, Black Oxford, Blue Pearmain, Bullock (a Golden Russet variety), Esopus Spitzenburg, Gnarled Chapman, Golden Russet (of NY), Harrison, Pomme d’ Or, Pomme Gris, Pumpkin Sweet of Mt. Vernon, Red Boskoop, Wickson (crab), William’s Pride, Winn Russet, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black, Bulmer’s Norman, Hewes Virginia Crab, Franklin, Blanc Mollet, Dolgo crab, Kerr crab, Honeygold, Hudson’s Golden Gem, Roxbury Russet, Reine de Reinette, and Banana amere.

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The ones I have had do have an anise flavor- the first time I tried it I was completely put off. I kept the bag of apples on my counter though and continued to try them over a few days and they really grew on me. The complexity is something I’ve not tasted in another apple. I think the anise flavor was just totally unexpected and that’s why it was off putting, but it grew on me and now I consider it one I really look forward to. I’ve heard that the black licorice flavor is not prevalent each year for many growers.


I’ve got sweet 16 and its parent, frostbite grafted to my sargent crabapple.


… like hard candy. Better/more pronounced when picked early. Dissipates with storage.


Great apple reviews. Thank you for the updated version.

Hey…i planted out the Keepsake from your scionwood…on Antonovka…so I guess I shouldn’t be expecting apples before I die?



Have you been able to try any yet?

I hear you…I’m going to graft some scions from that tree onto some larger wild crabs next spring. I hope to actually get one or two trees to perform better. Mine is on b118. I am becoming less and less impressed with b118. I have a fair number of “leaners” and the growth rates have been unimpressive when compared to dolgo, ranetka, and wild crab rootstocks. Better than antonovka in dry soils, but in heavier soil antonovka grows more quickly. I’m about done grafting to b118


no. just grafted them in may but all took and put on about 20in. of growth. I’m hoping for fruit next year as the tree is 7ft. tall.


"Leaners’ haven’t bothered me too bad…M7 does it all the time. (I guess they aren’t cold hardy enough there.) Jury is out on B118, and B9 and B10. But, I’m optimistic.

G202, G30, and G890 am hopeful they are also winners but we shall see in time.

I got tired waiting on M111 to bear, so the B118 is supposed to be better in that regard.
Also I lost a number on M111 to late freezes growing them in pots.

I’ve got a tree or two on M7, but I won’t plant any more on that rootstock. Once established, they appear to be able to survive winters here as long as there’s snow cover.

My issue with leaners is that they aren’t going to be the great wildlife trees I am looking for. I need a tree with a strong central leader as well as strong branching. Bears aren’t a major issue here, but when they get into a fruit tree without a strong central leader, you’ve got a mess. Even raccoons can raise hell with leaners.

The rest of the trees I plant/graft here will be on some type of crabapple rootstock or antonovka.


Interesting, didn’t know Keepsake was a shy bearer. I have 5 of them on G.222. Will be interesting to see how they fare on that rootstock.

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Check out P.18. has a good description of this root stock.

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I’ve seen discussion of P18 on another forum. If I was just getting started, I’d give it a try. I’m close to “done” planting new trees so I’ll stick with what I’ve been using.

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Fuji seedlings are mostly healthy looking…might make decent rootstocks. (But not sure about hardiness in your neck of the woods.)

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