Apple Tree suggestions for Southern New England/ Zone 6b

Hi all,

I’ve done a lot of reading of the posts here and over at Houzz, and have settled on getting Harrow Sweet pears on OHxF 87 and GoldRush apples on G.202 from Cummins largely based on Alan Haigh’s posts. I’m not worried about a pollinator for the pear tree since a neighbor has one, but I would like to get one or possibly 2 or 3 apple trees as companions for the GoldRush. If I’m only getting one tree I’d get semi-dwarf, if I’m getting 3 additional trees I’d go with dwarf rootstock.

I almost grabbed a Liberty when it was on sale at Home Depot but pollination charts show it’s not compatible with the GoldRush, and a lot of people here seem to think Liberty isn’t all that great.

I grew up on Macs and Cortlands, and am leaning towards getting a Cortland, but I figured I would check with you people first. I also saw some interesting things about Black Oxford but I have never tried this one and wouldn’t know where to look. I would like the apples for fresh eating, sauces, baking, and possibly cider.

So ---- if you had a small (1/3 to 1/2 acre) yard and could only put in one or two trees to go along with a GoldRush, which would it be?

Cortlandt is tasty and productive but loses its crispness in a flash in storage.

I’d plant any tree that appeals to me and graft it to several varieties. Crimson Crisp is very disease resistant, with nice growth form and quite tasty, so might make an excellent mother tree for a few varieties.

My favorite heirloom of the moment (last 3 seasons) is Esopus Spitzenburg. It gets higher brix than almost any I grow here in NY and ripens just a bit before Goldrush, which is a plus. Late spring may limit Goldrush to being just a fair apple.

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All due respect to @alan, all I have read, E. Spitz is susceptible to all kinds of apple diseases. If it were me, it would not be an apple for beginners.

I’ve heard good things from @scottfsmith about SunCrisp so I planted one. We have two other Southern New England members here that I could think of, @BobVance and @mrsg47. They probably will be able to share their favorite with you.

So far, the rootstock I like is G41. There are many newers dwarf and semi dwarf to choose from.

You have 1/3- 1/2 of an acre and want 4 trees. I have not even 1/3 of an acre, I have 30 trees. Fruit growing can be an addiction.


MonArk (summer) and Hauer Pippin (winter). (Freedom has some Mac in its lineage but blooms earlier than Goldrush). Also Enterprise, another that flies under the radar. Guy Ames, nurseryman in Arkansas calls it the near perfect apple. All three bloom roughly in the Goldrush bloom window.

There are several orchards in this area that grow a nice selection of heirloom and modern apples. Scott’s Farm in southern Vermont is a great one. Since you can’t order trees for a few months anyway, it might be worth checking out some of these places and seeing which apples appeal to you most. Plus, like Alan said, you’ll probably end up just multi-grafting your trees anyway.


Hi Joe I too grew up eating Macs. courtlands were never a favorite of mine. My favorite all around apple is Jonagold. So many uses! A Medium sized apple with pink flesh ‘Mott Pink’ is the tastiest apple I grow. Jonagold, a triploid is sterile and will not self pollinate. You will need other apples blooming at the same time to get the best pollination for Jonagold. I use Pristine (excellent yellow summer apple),Enterprise, and Caville Blanc as pollinators for Jonagold.

Ananas de Reinette is a very interesting apple as it has a hint of pineapple. All of the apples I have mentioned will grow in your Zone. Mott pink, Jonagold and Enterprise are tart apples with a good crunch and some sweetness. Pristine is sweeter and a great apple to have in August!


It all depends on how “Normal” you want your yard to look. :slight_smile: My 1/2 acre has somewhere in the area of 150 (but not all apples…). Many (most?) of them are multi-grafted.

I agree with Alan that Esopus Spitzenburg is a great tasting apple. I got to sample some he grew last year and they were high brix and flavorful. His tree and apples seemed pretty healthy, though that could be because it is in full sun and has his excellent care. I share your concern about it’s difficulty to grow (having read it repeatedly over the years) and would be hesitant to start out with it. But they were so tasty that I did graft it this spring.

@alan, are you thinking of Crimson Topaz? I had CT from a farmer’s market (2 years ago?) and it was a crunchy, great tasting, high brix apple. I’ve been harvesting Crimson Crisp for 2-3 years and while it holds it’s crunch well, I’ve found that it goes from acid/sour to bland (depending on harvest date).

I’ve tried Mac quite a few times and it’s never been all that tasty to me. And softens pretty quick too. Courtlands (a decent apple, but not one I’ve had any inclination to plant) at least have some sweetness to them. And Jonagold is excellent.

For summer apples, I would highly recommend Sansa. Mid-August and always sweet, even if you pick it a bit off from optimal. They hang on the tree for a long time too- last year I picked a couple that I had missed in mid-September and they were still crisp. Zestar! is also a good summer apple (based on FM- my tree should bear for the first time this year). Williams Pride is a bit earlier (start of August, similar to Pristine) and not bad- probably good for fans of Macs.

For mid-season apples I would recommend Sweet Sixteen due to the interesting flavor, except it is too inconsistent a bearer. Instead, Kidds Orange Red is a large, crisp/crunchy apple with lots of flavor and brix. It also bears heavily (I’ve broken branches…). I lost my main tree a couple years ago (bad experience with interstem rootstocks) and need to check around my yard to find a graft of it (I think I have one somewhere…).

For late apples, I think you are right with Goldrush. It’s top of the heap for me. Other late apples worth considering would be Golden Russet and Florina Querina. GR is right up there with Goldrush in my book, though they are very different apples. Both have high brix, but Golden Russet is more of a sweet apple, though it still has plenty of flavor. It won’t keep as long as Goldrush though (not much can). FQ is a bit like a better colored and scab resistant Fuji. I’ve had it once from my tree and another time from an orchard and both impressed me. But it isn’t as intensely flavorful as Goldrush or Esopus Spitzenburg.


Numerous good suggestions, already.
Here are some more I thought of:
Spartan, WineCrisp
Hudson’s Golden Gem
Arkansas Black(if you’re going with three dwarfs …but not if you’re going with one tree as this one is sterile)
…should all pollinate Goldrush, and I’ve grown all without spray except for Spartan, which I’ve not tried.

Thanks, Alan. Keeping a “parent” tree is probably something I’ll wind up doing. Reading some of these other replies I see a lot of suggestions for varieties, so I think the best thing to do is wait until the fall so I can try some of these other varieties.

I have a few other competing interests for the yard. My wife likes to keep some things “normal”, and she has her flowers, there are the two kids who need a place to play, and then there’s my other gardening interests. I already have three pawpaws and about 600 square feet of vegetable garden and I’d really like more. I have 8 blueberries that are, sadly, still in pails while I firm out the site of their final home with my wife aka “The Boss”. I have Earliblue, Reka, Patriot x2, Blueray x2, Bluecrop, and Berkely. All picked out from area stores, I’m trying to avoid SWD with this new patch, not sure if the later varieties I have will get hit but if they do I can always rip them out and put in something else. I’ve definitely got the gardening bug!

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It seems that anything with a lot of the varieties discussed here isn’t close to me. I may have to take a special trip up to VT in the fall.

I don’t think I have ever tried Jonagold. I’m pretty sure they have them in the nearest orchard to where I live.

I have read that there are so many sports of McIntosh that what a lot of people market as Mac doesn’t taste anything like the real thing. It could be that orchards in your area aren’t growing the original. It’s best right off the tree, and a good Mac was the first “wow” apple I’ve ever had. Of course, I don’t have anywhere near the level of experience with tasting apples as the people around here have. The shelf life and disease susceptibility are concerns I have with trying to grow this variety as a newbie.

I really should find time in the fall to head over either to Thompson’s in NY or Scott’s in VT to taste some of these “less common” varieties. I’m in the eastern part of CT so either orchard is a bit of a hike.

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For a disease resistant apple, Crimson Crisp gets pretty high ratings. I also grow some Topaz in my nursery but I’m not sure I’ve eaten any- I probably have. I was suggesting it as a mother tree because I know that it has very nice form and is very easy to manage. Liberty really is an ugly grower.

You are wrong about Spitz being difficult to grow in our climate, IMO. Last year was extremely wet and it does have some susceptibility to scab, but myclobutanil usually makes easy work of that. I mange the variety at several places that only get two sprays a season and it does fine. Maybe its a problem further south but it is not one of my more difficult apples here- like, say, Honeycrisp.

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It’s reasonable to be a bit cautious after seeing things like this on Orange Pippin:

“One of the great American apple varieties, thought to be Thomas Jefferson’s favourite. Noted for its spicy flavour, and for its susceptibility to any and every disease afflicting apples.

But, local conditions can be a big factor and I’ve seen how it performs for you. After reading this thread I went out and made two more Spitzenburg grafts, this time on my Crimson Crisp. I know it is late to graft, but I had the stick left in the fridge and apples are easy enough that it wouldn’t shock me if it works.

If these grafts behave more like the published expectations of ES, I’ll need to track down some of the wood from your tree! :slight_smile:

Mine is relatively small, on B9 rootstock, so I haven’t really gotten to see too much structure. It is a fairly compact grower- after 5 years, it is still 7-8’ tall (compared to a nearby Golden Russet which is also on B9, which is probably twice as large or more in width and 10-12’ tall).

That was bad editing (or careless editing to avoid plagiarism)- the quote was directly lifted from Seedsavers, changing one line- Seedsavers says susceptible to scab, fireblight and canker- that is all.

I’m in a sweet-spot, apparently, for fire blight issues. I’ve never lost an apple tree to the disease- for them it is limited to strikes that never affect big wood. I’m not sure what canker they are referring to and haven’t had issues with killing canker either.

In general, fireblight tends to be more deadly to trees on dwarf rootstocks from what I’m told. Interestingly, in recent years FB has been a bigger problem for growers further upstate in cooler zones. I’ve no idea why, but the leaves are probably more tender when weather is conducive to it

You should get the Seedsavers book- it’s nice to have all these different species and varieties included together and organized and described on paper. Not that I agreed with their description either. I believed that it was not very good except out of storage based on descriptions, including theirs, for years. I only included it in my nursery because it was such a well known heirloom, but I grafted some on very old seedling apple trees up-state for a client that does a 2-spray program (trees are in full sun in rich and deep corn soil- clay loam). One year I happened to be there when they were ripe and sampled one- it knocked my socks off. Now other of my apple loving friends that try it seem to feel the same about it and prefer even to Goldrush, OFF THE TREE. It tends to get even higher brix- wait till you taste it on a good year- everything sucked a bit last year because of excessive rain in the first half of summer. The descriptions are also wrong about its great storability- by mid-winter it’s lost its texture, so it is no replacement for Goldrush. Last year was my first attempt at long term storage of it, though- at least where I looked closely. But storage qualities are pretty consistent year to year.

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I don’t think anyone has addressed one initial concern. Liberty and and Goldrush should work fine as pollinating partners. Liberty will start to bloom sooner than Goldrush, but their times are close enough that there should be plenty of overlap.

Really?? I based it on this chart:

So the chart’s wrong? They had healthy, good sized Liberty trees at my nearest Home Depot for $12.49… half price. Probably still not a big loss since Liberty doesn’t get a lot of love here and Alan pointed out it’s an “ugly” grower, but maybe I’ll change my mind knowing they’re compatible.

There are several others that show them in overlapping pollination groups, including this one:

We don’t have Goldrush in our orchard yet (failed grafts), but our Liberty is still blooming when Northern Spies, an even later variety, starts to blossom.