Goldrush and Cox's orange--am I too cold for one and hot for the other?

I’ve seen a few comments about Goldrush and Cox’s both being excellent in their own way, but also highly climate-dependent–Goldrush takes some seriuous time to ripen, and Cox’s doesn’t favor extreme heat.

I live by Madison, WI, so we have snow fairly often by the end of Nov or first week of Dec. Not a guarantee, but commonly. We’re solidly Zone 5. In the summer though, 90-degree days aren’t uncommon, even if average temps are probably mid-80s.

Would Goldrush ripen decent here? Would Cox’s fry?

hoping someone can offer a bit of insight, thanks in advance!

I would imagine Cox is a no-go. It hates hot humid weather and turns to mush in many such locations.

Goldrush is a possibility if you can control cedar apple rust. It will probably ripen for you fine on the occassional long hot summer. Maybe not every year, but I would think some years.

Rubinette is your Cox child alternate. It reportedly has some of that Cox flavor but handles humid continental summers much more favorably.

Freyburg is another to consider.

I was about to mention Rubinette - its a great apple and should ripen for you. It is stronger and more sour but less aromatic than Cox so its not Cox but its good in its own right.

I’m a little leery of accepted ripening times after last year! For example, I have Stayman’s Winesap and it ripened almost with with my Liberties, which were weeks early. Stayman’s has never ripened for me before the last half of October, Liberties usually in late September or early October. this year they were both off of the tree by the middle of September. One year I got a couple of Rhode Island Greening, reputed to be impossible to ripen here. You might not get them regularly but you might get them often enough to keep your interest. I’d graft a branch or two of each onto an existing tree and give them a whirl. If nothing else the blossoms will contribute to pollination and be pretty.

Well… my first (and only) taste of Cox’s Orange Pippin was from a u-pick farm near Madison, WI, so I definitely think there is a chance you can grow it. I can try to dig out my wife’s pictures off of FB for a name of the U-Pick and a half-decent estimate of a date we got them. They were fine apples, and blew the Crimson Crisp I bought with it out of the water.

Kidd’s Orange Red (Cox x Delicious) is an alternate also. It is highly regarded by Stephen Hayes, and supposed to be less fickle. I have it, but no fruit yet. I have a pile of scions from it due to a big fail in pruning (see my post history).

Other Cox’s children and grandchildren that have aromatic qualities are Alkmene and Elstar . Elstar was very good here through a very on-top of it CSA (Buffalo Ridge Orchard). Alkmene from the same was more sharp than Elstar, but was good enough that I was bummed that they were sold out the second time I asked for it.

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Speaking of Cox children…

Has anyone tried Sun Tan? What can you tell us about it? Can it handle the humid East?

The meager notes I’ve collected from various sources:

[Sun Tan apple of England. Singing Tree has scions. Has appeared at HOS events (photo). Some say mildew resistant. Some say mildew and canker susceptible. Vigorous spurry growth. Triploid? Best put on B.9? Long keeping high-flavored apple recommended by Stephen Hayes. Cross of Cox’ Orange Pippin and Court Pendu Plat. Harvest early Oct in Oregon. Store thru January. Not great right off the tree but improves in storage].

Photo from HOS event posted on web here:

@SkillCult Are you growing the Sun Tan apple? If I am not mistaken-- I think I found an old blog where you wrote about it. Any updates?

I cannot speak for Cox’s, as I do not currently grow it (though I have scions for this year), though I’ve read the same as you about the heat.

The cold hard truth is, in realistic terms…no, I do not think you have a climate conducive to Goldrush. Really, I don’t either, but I do have it, and I do like it, but only just last season. I’m really too cold/short for it, and from that, I’d say obviously you are too. BTW snow and even frost is apparently not too much of an issue for GR, well below freezing temps are.
There are so stinking many great varieties for you to chose from that would be awesome for you…why reach? Read up my friend, there are many varieties that will do you much better service than Goldrush…don’t waste your time and money.
If you already have a good stable of producing varieties and just want to chance it and experiment…sure, why not?
Have you considered Honeycrisp? It is by general concensus superior in just about every regard to pretty much everything, and you are right in the sweet spot for it. It’s also off patent.

Yes, I have Suntan. It has never done well here. It watercores very badly and usually ends up fermenting on the tree. I still plan to try it in another spot. The tree is in poor soil and I remember hitting a bunch of rock when digging the hole. It is just not that happy. I can say though that the flavor is very intriguing and I really want to grow it. It can definitely have very distinct pineapple flavor and maybe other tropical fruit flavors. This is the first year in maybe 6 of fruiting that the fruit didn’t watercore super bad, so I’m hopeful. cox is terrible here. I have never grown one that I even wanted to finish. I’ve had one really good one from my mom’s tree 20 miles away. My guess is they might end up being good every so many years when things are just so. Cherry Cox is great though, which just shows how different a sport can be I guess.


I just discovered your apple taste test videos on YouTube and thoroughly enjoyed watching them.

Thanks for the update on Sun Tan. I still might try it, yet fear it may amount to nothing but a ball of mush out here back East. I do enjoy apples with tangy pineapple/tropical fruit-like flavors. My Goldrush here get the pineapple thing going pretty strong-- and not so much the banana flavor that neither of us care to have in our apples.

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I forgot to mention the Suncrisp apple, which I am growing, but haven’t fruited yet. It is another Cox descendent. I’ve tasted Suncrisp as grown nearby in southern Pennsylvania and it is another great-tasting apple-- and a good keeper taboot. Very good at least as late as January. To me, it has a distinct pear-like flavor that sets it apart. It otherwise resembles Gingergold in appearance and good eating quality.

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I have Suncrisp in my fridge and like most of the apples I put in storage, it is too mushy and bland to enjoy- so into Jan may be about right…

The exception is Goldrush, which is still just about as good as it ever was. If you like some acid in your apple and eating them through winter, I haven’t found anything that comes close to Goldrush (Fuji would if I was into pure sweet).

If you are in full sun I would at least graft some on another tree to test it where you are. It will keep ripening on the tree late into fall if the temps don’t drop to about 20 or below. I harvested some here in Dec. last winter that are what I’m eating now. I think they endured about 21 degrees.

I’m actually a bit disappointed in Suncrisp. The first season it had quite a full flavor but the last two it has been a bit thin in the flavor profile.

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I think I have a special sensitivity to that banana aromatic. I’ve never tasted pineapple in goldrush yet. I get it in Edwards winter, which has other issues, and court pendu plat, but mostly in the suntan. Honestly though, I haven’t really given goldrush a proper trial of off the tree ripening, which from what I hear is the way to go. I keep thinking it will hold well on the tree, but it really doesn’t. I’m sparing my tree another year for now and will pick early this time around and try to hold them and test them through the winter. My friend was over recently and said that he tasted one in March and it was the best apple he’d ever had. That was in Oregon. I’m grafting suntan out to a new spot this year. It is too intriguing to give up on. I’ve tried to cross it with other apples, but it never seems to want to grow, probably because it is triploid. I think I got one seed to germinate and it was eaten by bugs or mice. usually I get no seeds, or just a few lame looking ones. I’m thinking something like golden russet crossed with suntan could end up amazing.

I’ve pretty much taken the course of grafting out whatever I research that sounds good to see if it will grow here. There is not usually anyone I can ask and I don’t make assumptions about climate. Kevin Hauser of Apples and Oranges says that you can’t make assumptions about climate effects, like if something does or doesn’t do well in one type of climate, don’t assume too much about what that means in a different climate. I have challenging conditions in some ways, but most of us do. If I can find stuff that does well here, I have low disease pressure, but plenty of heat and a droughty mediterranean climate that takes a lot of them out of the running. One good point is it usually cools off at night, which is bad for vegetables generally but I think good for the apples. Now that my benchmark is higher after finding some stuff that is really great here, I’d say most apples, especially heirlooms, aren’t that great (just what Albert Etter said) and of the ones that probably are, most don’t do that well here. That’s okay, that is what I set out to find out and now I can pass that information on to people who live here.

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I have both Cox and GR growing here in z5a, inland Maine 1000’. Both do quite well here, though Cox can get some watercore/sorbitol which may be due to summer heat, and GR might not have a chance to fully ripen 1 in 4 years due to early cold. Last year both were great.

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For the past couple years, I have been able to pick Cox’s at a u-pick outside of Toronto in southern Ontario. I love them! They are tart and complex and just plain delicious. I just don’t find that they keep well for me. The ones that I have picked have been prone to bitter pit, and they lose their tartness somewhat quickly, even in the fridge. My first Cox’s tree looks like it will flower this year! Yay! I can’t wait! Anyway, south central Ontario is generally zone 5, so they can grow in your zone.

I second Kidds Orange Red as another good Cox-like apple. It is more sweet and aromatic, Rubinette is more sour less aromatic. Both are as good as Cox but different. Freyburg and Suncrisp are Cox children but are more like their other parent, golden delicious.

I grew Suntan for awhile but it died before fruiting and I heard enough bad reports that I never put it back in.

Kidd’s is a very reliable cropper and a good apple. Not a particularly long keeper, but nice to have here in mid-Sept. Certainly takes on some of Red Delicious sweetness- no Cox acid pucker.

Cox isn’t too hard here once you establish the tree but it sure is hard to grow as a nursery tree. Not very vigorous and poor form, plus it’s shoots are particularly attractive to leaf hoppers and such- must be higher in N than most wood.

You might take a look at Alkmene, another tasty Cox family that seems to be more forgiving. It was my star here last season with the crisp, juicy sweet/tart flavors. Probably a little more tart but if you are considering GoldRush that should be a problem. It doesn’t keep too long, but mine got rapidly eaten anyway.