Help with Hardy Oct Apple ID

Last year I became aware of the two large, old apple trees that grow on either side and behind our small rural Post Office, one with yellow apples, one with red. The current building was built in 1963 and the paving goes right up to the trees (which are down in a lower brushy area). Because of how they are situated, so neatly one each side of the back corners of the building, makes me think they were planted, or were already there and the building placed center of them. But I finally noticed the red appled tree late last October. It was still full of good sized fruit (above deer reach). I talked with the son of the man who built the building but he didn’t recall anything particular about the trees, nor did his Mom (now 95 yrs old). Apple trees are very common around here and don’t get much notice or attention. Maybe at one time someone made use of the apples but I’d guess that’s been years.

But I was given full permission to take all I wanted. So next time through I stopped and managed to get a dozen good apples. Though we’d had many frosts and freezes by then they were in good shape. A medium-large size, texture was mildly crisp, smooth, juicy, tart but with flavor and a nice sweet aftertaste. They reminded me of Dudley, but a much later version. And these were hanging on the tree where Dudley’s drop (August/Sept.). Early December the final stored apples were still good. We liked them enough that late winter I cut scions and this spring we grafted onto a good wild sapling. The graft grew well and vigorous.



As usual, I’m wondering if this is a named variety. Does this apple look and sound familiar to anyone? It’s certainly a hardy variety, or this one tree is anyway. Sue


I see you didn’t get much help. Looks like a desireble apple.


I don’t believe I saw this post back when you asked the question Sue. That apple and your description resembles my Prairie Spy fruit quite a bit.


IF it is Prairie Spy it’s a good thing. Last year my few PS were great -really an exceptional, excellent eating apple, and it keeps really well too. And if the pictures are anything to go by you could have a match. @clarkinks grows this one too. But I did have a couple of years when it was not a good apple. Why the change I do not know.


This publication of the Michigan Historical Society talks about the history of apples in the Upper Peninsula and lists some of the varieties that were commonly grown there in the earlier twentieth century:

The list includes “Duchess of Oldenburg, Yellow Transparent, Wealthy, Northwestern Greening, Pewaukee, Snow, Wolf River, Alexander, North Star, Ben Davis, Tetofsky, as well as a few other Russian varieties.”

As @smsmith and @marknmt say, your apple resembles a Spy or Praire Spy, but I’m guessing you might recognize those?

If not that Spy, maybe something like these picture of Ben Davis?

The October timing and good keeping would make sense, though according to these sources, Ben Davis is generally more sweet than tart (wonder if the fact that you’re in the U.P. could have something to do with that?)


Looks like prarie spy i agree but prarie spy cooks down red and has flecks of red in the flesh in my experience. Just a vein of red here and there.

1 Like

Really ripe PS get flecks of red here too. Sue’s pic looks like there may indeed be some red flecks in the flesh. I’ve never cooked a PS in any way, so I don’t know how they appear when cooked down.



If your apple has red veins like a red fleshed apple would but in very small amounts it is a prarie spy. Im using a smart phone but im pretty sure i see some red flecks. If so @marknmt definately has good eyes. Thanks @smsmith for confirmation i grow 2 of these trees they both do it. They are a really good apple for Kansas. Don’t expect huge amounts of apples they produce an average amount but they are one of my favorite cooking and eating apples. One day i was picking apples and the people with me got an apple a peace off those trees they both said it was the best apple they ever ate. That i feel has a lot to do with the weather in Kansas. Its been in the 90s for weeks and its only June. This hot weather makes very good tasting fruit. Before that it was very cold which also makes some fruits taste really good. There is fruit like Duchess D’ Angoulme pear which i feel never gets to its best here because of the weather swings. It more favors the climate of consistent weather. Back to prarie spy everyone who tries it here falls in love with it. Unfortunately honeycrisp and many others apples are ok at best here. My honeycrisp produced heavy 5 years and now has taken nearly 5 years off. Overall we grow much better pears than apples on my property.


Thanks for all the replies. It will be interesting if it turns out to be a Prairie Spy since that’s what we thought we planted 40 some years ago. Turned out those were Beacons. Two yrs ago I again picked some apples from the Post Office tree and they were still good the end of December, so PS is certainly possible. Photos do look similar. But - no read streaks (in the photo those marks are insect tracks). And I wouldn’t call the flavor really delicious. If there are apples on the tree this year I’ll get some more. Those in “town” may have escaped the late freezes that wiped out all but a few randoms of my own apple blossoms this year.

Ben Davis photo did look possible at first glance, JinMA. But then I noticed the russeting around the stem, and other photos show some russeting on the fruit, and mine don’t have any russeting at all so I don’t think that’s it. But thanks much for the link to U.P. apples article! I hadn’t seen it and enjoyed reading it. We do indeed have a LOT of old apple orchards around. And we bought apples often from John Thill until he sold the orchard. The last years he just bagged up apples and sold them for a few dollars as deer apples. Rather sad. But a good bunch of those bags of apples ended up as apple sauce, not animal feed.

But my graft of the Post Office tree is growing vigorously and well. Plus I have “real” Prairie Spy grafts growing on another crab. So someday I’ll be able to compare them in person. Sue


Not saying that what you have is PS, but I had a couple of years where mine were just terrible - not worth eating. Then last year, “Wow!”. Go figure. But I would suggest staying with any new apple at least a few seasons before deciding.

1 Like

I wouldn’t either. I eat them, but they aren’t my favorite by any means.


Good eye on the russet!

If you’re interested, it looks like the author of the pamphlet I linked above co-wrote a book titled “Apple Culture in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin Border.” It’s readable in part via Google Books and you may be able to track it down through the library or something.