Arkansas Black Apple Problems

I purchased an Arkansas Black Apple from Stark Brothers last year for my yard in Eastern Pennsylvania. It survived the mild winter, but now the leaves don’t appear healthy. Any ideas what might cause this appearence?

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Scorched leaves can come from late frost damage, oil applied in poor conditions or Captan when leaves are tender from growing in mostly cloudy weather.

This season has provided all of the above- if you didn’t spray it was probably frost. Check growing shoots- if new leaves are clean, I wouldn’t worry about it.


A group of trees I planted in 1991 acquired from Miller Nursery…only Arkansas Black died a natural death…at about age 10 on M7 rootstock.

I’ve grafted it with difficulty, but now have a small limb on a Frankentree.
Yet, it’s said to take hot conditions of Arkansas and western Tennessee.

They’d make good baseballs if you had a good arm and wanted to throw them!
(Or good rocks if you needed a weapon and didn’t have a gun.)

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They do soften in storage. Here they are hard but good off the tree and beautiful apples but I have often read that they are considered a storage apple. They suck as a nursery tree, though, because they are the spurriest, slowest growing variety I grow. A slow growing tree also doesn’t tend to be a great survivor of stress.

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I think there are at least two strains of Arkansas Black. The regular version which has good vigor and a version that has lots of spurs with the associated low vigor. I think I have the higher vigor version. I grafted a couple of trees on Bud 9 and the vigor is good (at least for Bud 9). The Home Orchard Society lists two versions with different vigors as well.


Miller’s nursery used to tout their spur varieties that included that version of Ark Black, so I agree with you. I got mine from ACN and apparently they sell the spurry strain without identifying it as such. They probably sell it almost exclusively to home growers so they aren’t going to get a lot of push-back for not clearly identifying it. I’d prefer the strain with greater vigor. I will mention it to them.

Sounds correct.
The ArkBlack Compspur as Millers called it. Shy bloomer, shy producer despite the huge number of spurs was my experience. Granny Smith was planted next to it, and it’s also a spur tree that blooms early with nice white blooms and has never cropped well at all, and I put in a “replacement” tree about 4 feet away from it this past summer…either it croaks or I saw it down in a year or three.
The third tree down the row was Fuji and it remains healthy after nearly 31 years also on M7.

I guess I lucked out with the high vigor version. I got it from a local orchard that had most of it’s trees on m26. Low vigor on Bud 9 would have been a disaster- probably a stick with blooms. At least you guys are using roostocks with some real vigor like m111.

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I assume you’d call it ‘high vigor’ … the large tall tree I got scionwood from last winter.

Who knows when I’ll see apples from that though.

Ed Fackler always recommended avoiding the ‘Colonial J-Spur’ strain of ArkBlack as never developing flavor…a beautiful, long-keeping cardboard flavored apple.

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I grafted ark black onto my daughter frankentree in 2019. The scion was from HOS. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

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Ed also claimed that Goldrush apples taste like battery acid off the tree. He loves (loved?) sweet fruit. My spurry Arks taste good to me.

I’ve not tried battery acid…but Goldrush tasted worse than any of my red fleshed apples to date fresh off the tree. I put Goldrush on a ‘frankentree’ but will have to wait patiently as it’s on a M-111 root. and has about an inch caliper. I have Arkansas Black on the same tree.

The parent tree a PinkLady…but I bought it for the limb structure so I could add a half dozen or more others to it.

Do you prefer sweet apples to tart?

I love tree ripened Fuji and old fashioned Red Delicious tree ripened…if that helps.

But, I also love Winesaps a month after harvest from storage.

(So I suppose I’ve not had a properly stored Goldrush in winter or spring…as I hear a good number of folks raving about it.)

*We’re talking about fresh eating…there are lots of things to be done with apples though; jelly, fried apples, applesauce, baked apples, pies, cakes, dried apples. (Juice, cider, vinegar…etc).


To be truthful about it, Ed said about GoldRush: Battery acid fresh off the tree, heavenly at Christmas, will keep until May if stored in plastic. It was one of his Top Ten picks…and perhaps one of the easiest of all to grow, in spite of CAR.
Between the deer, crows, and European hornets, I’ll likely never get to eat a GoldRush or ArkBlack from my trees…anything ripening later than about mid-August here doesn’t have a prayer.

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As it sits in storage, Goldrush becomes a closer and closer approximation of old strain Yellow Delicious, but with better crunch. I prefer it off the tree even though I like both tart and sweet apples. I love having sweet Goldrush apples well into spring, but would also like a variety that sustains more acid tang late.

I contacted ACN about their strain of Ark Black and this was the reply I got.

Hi Alan, we are aware that we grow the spur strain of Arkansas Black, and the decision was actually driven by our commercial growers. Most of our Arkansas black trees are grown on larger roots, but the trees stay a smaller, more manageable size and can be planted at tighter spacing for large commercial blocks. I checked with Tom and he’s not received any requests from commercial growers for the non-spur Arkansas Black.

Jennifer Baugher Adams County Nursery, Inc.

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Doubt I’ll ever get to taste a good ArkBlack or Goldrush. No orchards anywhere near me, and i doubt Kroger or FoodLion are gonna be offering either. Little chance either will ever make it to harvest in my orchard.

What few ARKBLACK apples I got in the 1990’s before my tree died were pretty apples…not sprayed and not blemished. (And not tasty right off the tree either.)

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Last time I visited the local apple orchard, before they shut down for good, Mr. Schlei told me he had some ArkBlack apples in the cooler, from the previous year, that were still very good, but somewhat shriveled, and thus unsaleable, as Mrs. Schlei had tired of keeping wet towels in the cooler to keep humidity levels up all summer long.

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