Apple Tree Recommendation pls - Oregon

I’m looking to put an order for apple trees for Spring 2023. I live 15 min. outside Portland, Oregon, in the Willamette Valley. We have about 3/4 of an acre, all south facing, and I’m looking to plant some apple trees. I was a farm kid, but after school we were in the city, and I never had space to garden. Now in our forever home, I literally want to put down roots.

I’m looking for the unicorn of apples, specifically at least dual purpose, and not susceptible to everything. I’m interested in fresh eating, pies, some cold storage, and of course hard cider. For fresh eating we like a crisp body similar to Honeycrisp and Pixie Crunch (I know, eye roll, but we are big on texture for fresh eating). Looking at Dwarf only, for ease of management, and I still want a backyard. Shooting for 4 trees…for now :smiley:

On the tentative Yes list (unless you think otherwise)

  • GoldenRush
  • Hudson’s Golden
  • Ashmead’s Kernel - ? Maybe, I’ve heard incredible flavor, but not the crunchie-est?

This is a the “I just can’t decide”, only looking for one more tree, looking for advice:

  • Grimes Golden (How bad is the Bitter Pit?)
  • Golden Russet
  • Liberty

Or…I kick the Ashmead’s Kernel off, and say “yes” to both Grimes Golden and Golden Russet, you see my problem here.

Which one of these three would you recommend? Knowing the above what I’m looking for, how would you rank these?

Are there any other varieties I’m overlooking?

Thank you in advance, I haven’t had the opportunity to try any of these apples, the apple tastings were canceled last year because Covid was going crazy. The list above is okay for pollination group mach up I believe, but I’m not that concerned. Every other person in the area has apple trees in their backyard, as well as several abandoned trees mixed in with hedges. I accidentally grabbed a tomatillo at the nursery last year, thinking it was a tomato. With only one plant it would not produce fruit, I still put it in the ground, thinking I’d use the leaves in floral arrangements. Boy, I was surprised with it set with heavy fruit. I don’t have any pollination concerns.

So, with that, please give me your thoughts and wisdom on the apple front!

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Since you are in Oregon if you are willing to drive a bit you could get and grow the cosmic crisp apple. It is only able to be sold in Washington so it is out of most people’s reach but not yours. I would say the cosmic crisp meets your criteria of being a apple for everything. Sweet the a Fuji or honey crisp but still good for cooking. Something I think is overpriced in stores but still a amazing apple.

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Liberty ticks the box on most of your criteria, but will disappoint on the crunch once it has been stored a few months. We’re still eating Libs picked in early September, but they’ve definitely been in decline since the first of the year. But they’re a decent pie apple, good for fresh eating if you like Mac style apples, and a fine cider apple. They make an excellent sauce. It’s nice that they’re a healthy tree, but codling moth flock to them.

Varieties you might be overlooking? Karmijn de Sonnavile. Cox’s Orange Pippin. Rubinette. Jonagold, Wealthy, Kidd’s Orange Red, Prairie Spy, Ginger Gold.

Your problem will be that the longer you’re here the more apple varieties will become must haves!


@marknmt is right about alternate varieties and orchard creep, of course. @elivings1 makes a good point regarding Cosmic Crisp, if you’ve tried that apple and liked it.

That said, I think that your tentative “Yes” list is excellent as-is. AK doesn’t have Honeycrisp texture - thought it’s not mushy or mealy here by any means - but I think that its flavor earns it a spot. I also think that the first option on your “can’t decide” list, Grimes, is an outstanding multipurpose apple and a can’t-go-wrong choice. I’ve never observed bitter pit with Grimes in Northern California, for what it’s worth.


Liberty is your ‘utility player’ on the list, covering most bases, but not the best player in any category.

None of us has probably eaten one yet, but Triumph might be a consideration.

Red Delicious and Arkansas Black meet the disease resistant requirements, as do the other couple I just named.

But, other than Liberty, you should have some good eaters in your proposed collection.
Some say Liberty is good coming out of storage…I can’t agree or disagree on that, but anything but Granny Smith at the supermarket has Liberty beat in fresh eating. Grimes is a bit tough to grow. And I’m having trouble getting any vigor in my Hudson’s…so still patiently holding out to get to eat one before I kick the bucket.


Size is usually determined by the root stock. Bud 9 will make any apple tree dwarfed in size. However a low vigor apple on bud 9 would stagnate. So a low vigor apple on a stronger root stock would be a better mix.

But you also have not asked the question do you want apples once a season or do you want early mid and late or keeper apples.

Goldrush for example will keep you apple happy well into feburary or longer.

Basicly your going to need more then 4 trees. I suggest you buy an assortment of root stuck at least 25 bud 9 maybe few emla 26 for low vigor types and get ready to graft in 2023

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I believe the Cosmic Crisp tree (at least as of right now) can only be sold to Washington residents and cannot be taken or exported out of Washington State. It may change in a few years.

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Did you skip 2022? You could still get started today.

And your comment about getting only dwarf trees- read up about the negatives of a dwarf tree (life span, staking, too much fruit weight compared to what the small tree can support, etc.). You could get a grafted “semi dwarf” and keep it pruned to size and not deal with some of the downsides of a dwarf. We had some dwarfs as a kid and they snapped in half.

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Sounds to me like it won’t be long until you learn to graft. Once you figure that out then you won’t have to leave anything off your list.

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OP said he/she lives in Oregon is why I suggested it. Unless they are checking id it would just be a few hour drive. I agree with OP when it comes to it being a bit late to get fruit trees online assuming they are doing online only. Bay Laurel and Grow Organic Peaceful Valley end their sales end of December into the new year, One Green World seems to depend on the year but is sold out of most at the moment, Trees Of Antiquity is pretty much sold out last I checked, Cummins sales year in advance so is pretty much sold out for 2022, Raintree is sold out pretty much and not sure about FEDCO. This means the only major online nursery I know of for most trees at this point is edible landscaping which charges 60+ percent of cost for shipping which will be quite expensive. Hate to say it but OP is landed where I was last year where most of their plants they will want to buy either will have to be local or planned for the fallowing year.

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we can grow virtually any apple in the willamette valley, the main limitations are apple scab (some have resistance), powdery mildew (some have resistance) and protection from codling moth (similar with all apples so not a selection criterion)

liberty is great, everyone should grow it. it’s not the crispiest but it was crispy enough for me right off the tree

the ones I’m trying out that are a little newer are pixie crunch, cordera, crimsoncrisp, snapdragon, triumph, winecrisp. most of these have some apple scab resistance so I think they should work but I won’t have a report on them for a few years

might I suggest you grow pixie crunch if you already know you like it? it’s “Field immune to scab, susceptible to downy mildew” and unknown to powdery mildew, so it’s worth a try. the patent recently expired, I got mine as a scionwood cutting from Bob Purvis, but you can buy a finished tree from many places like cummins

btw m26 is one of the best rootstocks for the willamette valley, if you can handle a 10 foot tall, 10 foot diameter tree (can be kept smaller with pruning)

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Yes, I know, lol. Part of this is starting with 4 trees, and then getting more down the road. There are several ancient rhododendron that I need to remove, but they are going to be a heck of a project. Half of them have rot at their base. Once those are cleared, we’ll more space, but between getting the veggie bed ready, starting seedlings, then having to bring them in with the weather not warming here, just not going to happen this year.

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Growing up in Oregon, Apple and Pear trees can be volunteers, weeds, or the only sign a homestead was once in a location, but I didn’t know you could grow almost anything, that is interesting!

I’ve had Pixie Crunch, but it had been in cold storage for a while, and I think the taste had mellowed. I had looked at Crimsoncrisp, but I think that is susceptible to powdering mildew and firelight, so I had put it on the back burner. I’m going to have to dig into some of those other ones you mentioned, as I don’t know them.

I had been looking at M26 and G11 as the rootstocks. 10 ft trees wouldn’t be an issue, just not much bigger, as I worry I will not be able to get up in them to manage if there is a pest outbreak. Keeping them pruned will obviously help as well.

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I hope so, I’ve got a friend who is a master gardener and helps with the grafting workshops, going to be hitting her up.

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I typed ‘dwarf’ but looking back at the charges, M26 and G11 look to be more in the semi-dwarf range. I’ve looked around, I haven’t had much luck finding the apples on my list for this year but I’ll keep on looking. If I find something, I’ll put it in the ground for sure.

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My biggest problem with Libs is that they’re so variable. When they’re right, they’re terrific. But when conditions are not just so they lapse into mediocrity pretty easily.

I’ve had excellent Liberties out of months of storage, but again, you can’t depend on it. I will say that this year they improved in storage for the first few weeks, but that’s a time when I have better apples to eat but which don’t keep as well, especially Karmijn.

I’m currently working to convert much of my tree over to Karmijn.


powdery mildew is annoying, I have a couple susceptible trees, but all that happens is they lose a few leaves in the spring and then the fruit can get disfigured with “netting”. most people, when I hand them a PM-netted apple, just think it’s nice russeting or something

fire blight has low pressure here and you should be able to cut it out to manage it. you shouldn’t lose trees to it

so scab is the main one I think about when looking for trees to try because it can disfigure apples the most and they can look unpalatable (although still edible)

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I’ve had samples of perfect GoldRush that were grown in Willamette eaten mid March. I am growing it but haven’t yet ripened one. I’m curious if you have tried all on the list. Ashmeads is great but has been a shy producer for me in the NW corner of US. If you know you like strong sweet/tart apples Karmijn is highly recommended and makes a great pie too. Grimes Golden is a generous producer but not especially remarkable otherwise, never had bitter pit with it. I’ve heard Hudson’s Golden can also be a shy producer. Have you considered Crimson Crisp? It has the sweetish crunch of a modern apple.

If you haven’t already, consider getting in touch with Home Orchard Education Center. Good luck and welcome!

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I’ll have to admit that my original Liberty died several years ago. And I got in not hurry to replace it…until some good member of this forum sent scions to me that I didn’t ask for, and I grafted it.
It is a healthy tree…but the fruit are just so-so in my opinion.


I can appreciate that. I do hope you eventually get one at its best. Just what that requires I don’t really know. After 20 years of growing my Lib I still can’t tell you how to do it!