McIntosh offspring opinions

I have a youngish Macoun espalier, grafted to rootstock in 2015, that produced its first two apples for me last year. Apple #1, straight from the tree on October 7, was not exciting. It was similar to my limited experiences eating Mac-types grown in the northeast, ie crisp, juicy and tart-sweet (15 Brix in this instance: quite low for my orchard) but also not complex and not very interesting. No offense to you folks in the great northeastern US, whose apples I’m unceremoniously and, no doubt, unfairly lumping together into that unflattering description, but this Brix spoiled soul hasn’t eaten many apples produced outside of his locale that measured up to the highly complex but sweet-toothy standards of my own orchard. Hope I haven’t run all of you off already, because your opinions are 100% necessary here.

Meandering back toward the main subject, Macoun #2, eaten 16 days later, was excellent. It measured up to everything I’ve read about the variety: appealingly tender, juicy flesh of great complexity; different than any apple I’ve ever eaten. Also, 21 Brix, so entering my sweets ballpark.

My dilemma: I have scads of different apples to eat at that time of year, and since Macoun doesn’t have a reputation as a keeper, I won’t get through a tree’s-worth of apples before I have to convert them to something else. I could do that, of course, but I’d rather be able to eat apples with similar qualities into the new year, so I’m looking for Mac offspring recommendations for the top two tiers of the Macoun espalier.

I’m thinking of Empire and Liberty, as they both have very good reputations and each appear to perform well in hot, dry summer environments like mine. Jonamac, Jubilee have caught my eye as possibilities. I’ve excluded McIntosh and Cortland due to short keeping reputations. Contrarily, Spencer still interests me even though I’m pretty sure it doesn’t keep well (not a lot of info out there on this apple, but I’ve romanticized it after reading a loving review some years ago that I can’t find now).

Any opinions on Mac types I’ve listed (or missed)? Thanks in advance.

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I love Macoun - and it’s my wife’s favorite apple, or was -it has been so long since we’ve had one I’m not sure, now. My tree seems to dislike Macoun grafts.

But I do like Liberty too, a lot. I will warn you, though, it seems to have good years and bad years. I’m not sure what the best conditions are. But when it’s good, it’s very, very good. And when it’s not, it’s bleh. OK, but something of a shrugger. It’s a fair keeper, and that seems to depend a lot on how early you pick them. Since they ripen unevenly they take a little extra diligence in timing the harvest, but, that gives you more time to get it all done if you’re crowded.

Libs as eating apples are OK at least, terrific at best, and useful for anything. They also cook well, make a great applesauce, delicious pies, baked apples, and make fine cider.

And the trees are excellent producers, but challenging to prune. The spurs are short and twist around, and the stems are short too. And codling moth love them.


Thanks, Mark. I can deal with inconsistent apples, as when one is having an off year, another is on, so things seem to even out. It’s just too much to ask every apple to have good years every year. As long as the good years are excellent, I’m happy to make room for a variety.

Coddling moths were terrible in my orchard for many varieties last year, even varieties less attractive to them in previous seasons, so Liberty’s moth-attractiveness doesn’t give me pause. I missed spraying a source I’d never had issue with before or even suspected could be a reservoir for the rotten worms: juneberries. It makes sense, as they’re related to apples. Next year they get sprayed too.

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Ha! That’s a great description.

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Anyone growing Spartan? I keep waiting for mine on b118 to produce some fruit.

I grafted some Spartan last year. Cleft graft on older tree so it might be 2 more years before I get fruit.
I grew it commercially in 1985 and 1986 when I worked at an orchard in Wisconsin. I LOVE this variety. It does not seem to be very popular anymore in the local orchards near me.

The fruit tends to run small. Great for fresh eating with a distinctive aftertaste. I did not find it well suited to baking. A pie I made with Spartan sampled next to a pie I made with Cortland made me realize that Spartan is not the best apple for cooking.

I would say it is a nice smaller apple that stored until December 15th before getting soft. Excellent for children since the fruit is not too large.

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