Disease resistance: Liberty vs. Freedom apples

I’ve read Liberty is considered the most disease resistant apple variety developed so far.

There is a table of resistance by apple type to various diseases available at oldvaapples.com - oldvaapples Resources and Information..

What I found a bit confusing about this is that just looking at the table, one would think that Freedom is more disease-resistant than Liberty.

Is the table of resistance incorrect? Or is Liberty more resistant based on taking into account other maladies that aren’t listed in the table? Or is some other factor at work?


Based on their chart it indeed looks like Freedom is more disease resistant. That being said I never hear anyone talk about Freedom while Liberty is always being talked about. I know nothing about Freedom as an apple variety.

Some of the info on that lists looks a little questionable. They do not list Pristine as an early harvesting variety but from what I understand it’s one of the earliest to ripen.

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The list is definitely not comprehensive; for example, there are varieties they carry that haven’t been added to the list.

If the list is accurate but not comprehensive, that’s one thing. If it’s clearly inaccurate, that’s another. If anyone knowledgeable can comment on this, please weigh in!

Lots of websites exist to try to generate traffic so they can sell ads. A good portion of that content to created by skimming other websites. Therfore the content is questionable on accuracy. I don’t read sites don’t have the probably credibility of a site like this, or a University, or nursery like Dave Wilson & etc.

Point 2: I don’t know how big of a deal disease resistance is for most of us. Liberty is a good apple, but Fuji and many others are much better. Lots of apple trees in my area that are not cared for and aren’t diseased. So why take a lesser quality apple to avoid whatever disease you won’t have a problem with anyway?

The list seems pretty generous in giving out Resistants. Only McIntosh and Staymen are called less than Moderately Resistant.

This page classifies Liberty as more scab resistant than Freedom, based on a WVU paper.

I haven’t had Freedom yet (my dad has been growing it for 4 years, but he keeps getting set back by deer). I have a Priscilla (in the same category as Liberty), which I’ve gotten fruit from for 3 years. It was OK the first two and I was very happy with it last year. It produced a full crop when most of the other trees were short or bare and was pretty tasty. Harvest starts for me in late August and the brix was in the 13-14 range. Not super high, but a good eating apple with an interesting flavor.


And even if you do need to spray for scab or CAR, timing is the same as for insecticide so it is very little extra work to throw an effective fungicide in the mix.

Replying to some of the points in the last few posts:

The website is actually for a small nursery in Bristol, a city on the VA / TN state line. It’s not a “generate traffic / sell ads” site.

The importance of disease resistance varies a lot with one’s location. While disease may only be a minor nuisance (or even practically absent) for some, it can be a serious problem for others.

I’ve read that Liberty can be extremely good when grown under optimal conditions (e.g., it seems to like heat). However, it seems that its fruit quality falls off more quickly than most the further one gets from this optimum.

The list of resistance by variety is only meant to cover varieties that have significant disease resistance. Therefore you wouldn’t expect it to say some varieties aren’t particularly resistant to anything as such varieties are specifically excluded from the list.

Like many apples, Liberty has its fans, but most people are left less than thrilled with it. Cornell released it as a replacement for the scab plagued Macintosh, NY’s main apple at the time, but Mac is a much more distinctive apple with even less shelf life than Liberty. Commercial growers couldn’t sell Liberty so it was marketed to home growers as a supposed low spray apple instead. But soft fleshed apples like it (they are firm but not dense) are magnets for insects.

When I started in the business I kept reading about how well Liberty did in taste tests and I used it as a main variety in my nursery. I doubt they were blind taste tests or perhaps they were comparing them to mushy, poorly stored Macs.

Turns out that it is not a very cooperative grower either and is difficult to train into an efficient shape, but it is a fruit machine so that hardly matters.

I wonder if the trick with Liberty is to make sure each apple has almost complete sun exposure, like in an espalier. I’ve had some very good and very bad Liberty. From a commercial PYO, none that I tried were good. From my own tree, there has been a lot of variance. I kept records on their brix and I had one which had 18.5 brix on the sunny side of an apple and 12.5 on the shaded part of the same apple. Now 18.5 translates into a very good apple (Goldrush territory), while 12.5 is merely OK (11 and below is yuck). 6 brix is a pretty wide spread- most apples vary by 1-2.

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I grow without sprays, so disease resistance is very important in my success of growing fruits in my backyard orchard. I removed a Golden Delicious and some unknown cultivars, due to high susceptibility to fireblight. I would do that for other diseases as well.

In my yard, fireblight has been the worst infectious disease for apple trees. Peach Leaf Curl, for peaches. Deer, for apples, plums, pears, and cherries.

I have Liberty on M27, so it’s more a bush than a tree. So far, Liberty is the only apple that consistently gives me a good crop of apples. Jonagold is pretty good, and more vigorous on the same rootstock, but has had off and on years and usually doesn’t produce much. I have a McIntosh-like North Pole, which mostly has issues with coddling moth due to proximity to a neighbor’s treel.

I have about 10 varieties that I am testing now as multigrafts. Some should bear this year, with enough to taste and make a couple of pies. Most of my selections have been based on researching multiple websites and some books, regarding disease susceptibility, especially fireblight. One was a multigraft sold by Raintree as disease resistant, although I don’t know about all of the choices.

I think the chart looks very useful. Based on their info, Freedom does appear very resistant to multiple diseases. How important each disease is, would depend on your local disease load.

Thanks for linking to the disease resistance chart. Looking at it, I’m thinking my plans to get scion next year for Goldrush and Sweet 16 are reasonable. Maybe I should look for Freedom and a couple of others.


Much…I’ve spent countless hours pouring over charts like the one you posted and they vary a bit, sometimes a great deal. My recollection is that Liberty is widely considered the most DR apple, closely followed by William’s Pride. Some charts will indicate WP to be the more DR and in reading scores of reviews on both, it seems that could maybe be the case. DR and insect resistant (if there is such a thing) fruit has been of utmost interest to me for a long time now.

Alan is right about needing to do insecticide sprays anyway so doing a combination spray with some fungicide really doesn’t inconvenience one all that much. Where I disagree with this point as a whole, is that just adding some fungicide to the mix does not make all things equal. Trees that are known to be susceptible to a certain fungal disease remain susceptible even in the presence of fungicide. In reading thousands of posts here and at GW it seems to me I probably spray far, far more than the average person and yet those trees with susceptibilities often display the issue. Some diseases also require proper timing for good control and very, very few backyard orchardists will concern themselves with this timing and even if they do, executing it is another thing altogether. That is assuming they bother spraying much to begin with, if at all.
DR apples are in my mind, very worthwhile, assuming you can find one with a flavor and texture profile that is agreeable to you. As you slide down the chart and concede certain resistance or immunities, the availabilities really expand rapidly.
If you think you won’t like Liberty, maybe give William’s Pride a try, most people here seem to really like it, it’s issue is evidently water coring.
Goldrush is a DR variety also and pretty much everyone but me seems to love it. It makes beautiful apples…it’s issue is CAR which it suffers from badly, but is otherwise seemingly very tough.

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I’ve sampled some Libertys and Freedoms from an orchard near Burkittsville, Md (Blair Witch country). Liberty is productive there, and the fruit is spotless, but the taste was underwhelming (pithy and poor flavor). Freedom apples are a bit larger, bruise easily, but had a more agreeable flavor and texture. The way Freedom eats is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. This was in mid Oct.

I have heard that Freedom is scab immune and rust & fireblight resistant. I plan on planting neither due to the lackluster flavor, but if I had to plant one, I’d probably pick Freedom.

So what you are saying is that Freedom is not deer resistant? Where is the list of all the deer resistant apples?

It is weird to carry on a discussion with folks in completely different regions. I’m assuming you, Bear, are in the West.

Appleseed, it isn’t a disagreement but a contrasting experience in a different region. I have almost 25 years experience managing a very wide range of apple varieties at scores of sites, but none of them are in your state. I don’t disagree with you that my spray program doesn’t work where you are because I have no experience growing fruit there. Nor do I have any experience trying to manage trees without a quality sprayer.

Your comment is more harmful than useful, IMO, because it isn’t based on any significant information. Are you saying that you’ve lost crops to scab because you only applied the best fungicide when you needed to apply insecticide, and it wasn’t enough? Add some substance to your speculation or you are only muddying the waters.

This old GW thread on Liberty apples is rather interesting: http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/1509052/how-about-your-liberty-apples

The quality of Liberty apples seems to be very climate-dependent.

A Zone 9 poster summed it up this way:
“From descriptions from the northern growers, I believe Liberty is better suited to the south. It loves the heat and humidity, and is really apple candy down here. I now have 5 Libertys. That’s how good it is down here.”


Alan…I never said anything about your spray program. Yes…you have experience and a great sprayer, so how exactly does that change anything? A sprayer?

My comment is absolutely rooted in fact, not opinion.

No, I’m not saying that. Good try though. I’m saying what I said…nothing else.
Applied the best fungicide? Tell us Alan…what is “the best” fungicide in all cases for *all *things? Your comment directly indicates DR apples have no value because you can “simply toss some fungicide into the mix” and any apple can be made as good or better than DR varieties in regards to fungal avoidance.

First…that’s simply not true. If it were, orchards (who spray regularly and are generally better informed) would never. ever have any fungal issue…right? How much less then would the typical homeowner with a BYO who is juggling children, a job, and life in general be able to manage it?
So are you trying to tell me that armed with your vast experience and your awesome sprayer you’ve never had scab in your orchard, CAR on your Goldrush, mildew on anything…and oh yeah…what about fireblight?

What fungicide are you tossing in the mix in your awesome sprayer for fireblight?

Your comment (and one that you make over and over), directly tells folks “why bother with a DR variety” when tossing some fungicide into the mix" makes all things equal.

It does not,it doesn’t here, it doesn’t there, it doesn’t anywhere no matter how much experience the applicator has and no matter the quality of the sprayer.

Your comment is bad advice when applied generally and does not follow your own guidelines of dispensing information that leads to successful fruit growing.
Oh…suggesting that I’m speculating is a low blow and almost as childish a cheap shot as the sprayer comment. I guarantee you my few trees are kept better and more uniformly sprayed using my sprayer than yours are. And why exactly would you even mention that?

So again…tell us what model sprayer we all need to buy and what all fungicides we all need to be armed with (the best as you say) so we can be successful.
Oh, and please don’t forget to tell us how to successfully manage fireblight with fungicide. Fireblight resistance simply cannot be trumped by any spray of any kind whether sprayed through a “quality” sprayer or not. Same goes for varieties that are scab resistant or have field immunity.
That my friend is not speculation, and on the contrary, the waters are not muddy here, they are crystal clear.

Appleseed, what I’m asking is for you to put your caution about disease susceptible varieties into the real world. I have found over the years the only difference in difficulty in growing conventional apple varieties compared to Liberty, William’s Pride and other DR’s is the effort of putting the right fungicides in the mix. So, practically speaking, I contend that, with the fungicide thrown in, DRs and non DRs are equally difficult to grow (or easy).

By best fungicide, I only meant best for what you are gunning for and best for holding up until next insecticide spray.

Your rumination seemed vague and might steer people inordinately away from apples not known for disease resistance. Actually more than vague- wrong. Trees known to be susceptible to certain fungal diseases do not remain susceptible when they are covered with the right fungicide(s).

You know that I’ve provided you with all the info you need from me about my preferred fungicides and pesticides in general. Haven’t I sent you the spray schedule I use? I’ve certainly posted it here recently.

Instead of turning this into a debating class, how about defending the point I was objecting to. That is the only issue of importance to other growers as far as I’m concerned. Help them decide what to grow.

But that’s simply not true. Why then do you yourself avoid varieties that are scab or fireblight susceptible? Why do you so often warn of varieties with these susceptibilities?
You continue to assume that BYO trees are always getting perfectly timed, perfectly selected fungicides. That assumption is ridiculous and is a large part of the assertion of my point. You fail to see this because evidently you like to write rather than read.
Why do you refer to Liberty as a Coddling Moth magnet? Why not just throw some correctly chosen insecticide into the mix as you say in a perfectly timed and coordinated spray? It’s because you know that it’s just not that simple, especially for the typical homeowner who wants a few fruit trees…right?

NO…you are wrong and what I said is 100% correct. I wasn’t *steering *, you however were and have on this very subject many, many times. The original post and ensuing thread was based off a comparison between two DR varieties indicating the original poster had an interest in that area. YOU steered him/her away from that with reasoning that is not entirely sound or logical. I agreed with part of your premise in case you failed to read that, but you state it dogmatically as though “this is the way it is” when the reality is it is not. You simply are not reading what I write but rather leaping to conclusions as to the point I’m making.
If I’m wrong as you say would you care to explain why just about every university suggests DR varieties for backyard orchardists? Or will you attempt to deny that undeniable fact?

No, I don’t know that. I’ve done a tremendous amount of research on fungicides and insecticides on my own. Contrary to your seeming opinion, I think I’m reasonably knowledgeable of their use and control. No, you have never sent me your spray guide, I’ve created my own and it’s flexible and changing and far more intensive and involved than yours. I wasn’t aware that I “needed” information from you concerning the subject, but thank you for enlightening me.

Why do you feel that the line between DR and other trees lies where you draw it?

There are a lot of growers out there that have trouble with scab also. Do they just not know what they’re doing? Do they not employ the use of a “quality” sprayer?

Again, what about the fireblight?

This is just a crazy waste of time. There is only one point I’m trying to make, and it is true and I have no idea why you go on and on and on.

It is just that besides adding the fungicide I don’t find disease resistant apples easier to grow than non disease resistant varieties.

You I cannot carry on a reasonable discussion with. Why do I keep trying? I must be as crazy as you.

This is what I was discussing. Do you have anything else in your mental arsenal besides a shotgun? This is the target- focus on it.

What is the point of this statement from your experience?- please try to stick to this. Have you found it easier to grow disease resistant apples. If so, why?

Here’s a target for you: What about the fireblight?
Can you read that? Can you comprehend it?

Can you answer any of my questions as I have your’s? Or do you simply have no answer?

That’s what I thought.