EDIT: see Scott's apple variety experiences through 2018 which a more recent version.
Someone at some point asked me for a cumulative variety experience list and I finally got around to making one a few months ago. I am now posting it. Here are the apples, I have another one for stone fruits I’ll post not too long from now. The other vines and berries etc stuff I haven’t written up yet.
One of my main goals for apples is varieties that not only taste fantastic but are easy to grow with few sprays in my fairly hot and humid climate. Many of the old English heirlooms in particular are too prone to skin rots and other problems. The southern heirlooms on the other hand tend to all do reasonably well - they are southern heirlooms for a reason! So, I started out ten years ago with primarily English and French heirlooms, and while some of those proved to be fantastic most had some problems and have been removed, and more Southern heirlooms added.
I am not including much in the way of standard descriptions, hopefully they can be found with a search engine.
These are in rough ripening order, as I log apples in ripening order. But, in the beginning I logged alphabetically and so the ripening season on those is from memory only and may not be super accurate.
Wiliams Pride - This is a very nice sweet large early red apple. Its the kind of apple kids will like, a simple pleasant sweet flavor. Only one year of harvest but it had a lot of watercore in that one year.
Jefferis - This is a solid reliable early apple. It is more sour than Williams Pride and with a nice fruity flavor. The harvest is spread out over a long period which is very useful in an early apple since they don’t keep as long. And, they in fact keep pretty well for an early apple, they will soften but will still be tasty.
Transparent Croncels - Very early, sour and not so sweet; can get too soft so pick early. A cooker. Removed ~2010.
Worcester Pearmain - Has the McIntosh skin and shape but with less sours and more sweets, and less rubbery in the skin. Skin disease issues on some of them.
Ginger Gold - Nice taste for an early apple, but would be called boring flavor compared to later apples. Minor skin issues. Keeps really well for an early apple.
Signe Tillisch - A pleasant sweet apple on the soft side. Seems more like a cooker for sauce, eating is not super great but should be great in baking. I often missed the picking timing on this since it has a narrow window; removed ~2012.
Akane - A wonderful aromatic better-than-mac apple. Unfortunately it is highly prone to skin rots; with my minimal spray program nearly all rotted every year. Removed 2014.
Cherryville Black - Very sweet and savory/nutty with decent sours. It is a very nice early apple. May get mealy if left to over-ripen, but not one of the turns-to-mush early apples. Skin is resilient stuff so relatively few problems. I expect the primary reason for this guy not being popular is its relatively small size, dull skin, and pronounced spots.
American Summer Pearmain - This looks to be an excellent apple, similar to Blenheim in flavor but earlier. Skin seems rot resistant as well, its that dull kind of skin which is less rot prone. Only one year of fruiting.
Laxton’s Fortune - perfumed with rose and something else, very nice.
Golden Nugget - An excellent early russet apple. Watercores heavily some years but still tastes very good with all the watercore.
Transparent Croncels - This apple has a very nice pineapple/banana taste but is an early apple with a small picking window — they go from underripe to mealy in a very narrow range. It is primarily a cooking apple and does very well in that category. Removed ~2011.
Holstein - Finally fruiting after ten years! A more sour Cox with heavy watercore. Would be a nice apple without the watercore. I will probably remove this eventually.
Gravenstein - This tree suffered from severe rosy apple aphids for several years. The apples were good and without any major skin etc problems, but did not taste quite as good as the Gravenstein I have eaten in California. Removed 2015.
Queen Cox - I got bland fruits off this tree but it had health problems (and it finally died). So, I did not give it a full evaluation. Died ~2010.
Dyer - crisp nice apple a bit on the small side. Downing and Beach say “high flavor” which I would not quite say but the flavor is very good. Removed ~2010.
Pitmaston Pineapple - This is a great tasting apple. The flesh is a bit on the dry side but not too bad. The flavor is fantastic, suuuper sweet/sour. It beats out Roxbury Russet, Orleans Reinette, and all the other yellow school apples. If it were bigger everyone would be growing it. I have also had productivity problems with it, but it was crammed into too small a spot for a long time.
Pomme Raisin - A very average tart cooking type apple. A member of the McIntosh school. Removed 2014.
Sierra Beauty - A decent large red apple. Nice flavor but not very sweet and a bit of sliminess to the texture. Had watercore problems as well. My conclusion is this is more a California apple. Removed 2015.
Young American - A nice looking crab I have not gotten a good taste on yet due to squirrels.
My Jewel - A very average apple based on one year of fruiting. Seems to be another California apple not doing well for me. Removed 2015.
Tumanga - A very good apple somewhat in the Newtown school. They should age well I expect.
Ribston Pippin - Yet another excellent-tasting English apple that is getting severe skin spotting and watercore/rot problems. Removed 2015.
Berner Rosen - A very average tasting apple that is prone to mealiness. Removed 2012.
Pigeonnet Rouge - A pleasant savory tasting apple with an unusual “pigeon’s head” shape. This apple unfortunately is highly prone to drop, even when heavily thinned most would fall before they were ripe. I could have had some help with the deer in getting the apples knocked off, but I doubt it was the only problem. Removed 2015.
Kidds Orange Red - A low acid sweet aromatic apple, similar to Gala but more aromatic. The tree sets far too many apples and I often do not get it thinned enough which then causes alternate bearing. The fruits always come out very nicely, very few rot problems. They ripen over a long period so it is a good tree for an orchard with only a few varieties.
Fall Russet - An early version of Golden Russet - not quite as sweet but still very good.
Gala - Great tasting and very sweet; extremely productive. This apple grows great in any climate and comes through with little rot in a minimal spray program.
Freyburg - Excellent when picked late enough, it has a rich flavor of the Golden Delicious school, mixed with anise and other overtones as well as a good crunch. Flavor can be a bit too much (cloying) when cooked. This apple is probably not for everyone but its one of my favorites.
Freiherr von Berlepsch - Has a pleasant savory taste but suffered greatly from bugs and fireblight. Removed ~2010.
Black Gilliflower - a small very savory tasting apple. Prone to rot. Removed ~2008.
Allington Pippin - Taste on the sour side, fine, but not particularly distinctive. Serious watercore/rot issues. Removed ~2009.
Swayzie - An excellent russet thats is a cross between a “nutty” (Egremont) and an “aromatic” (Freyburg). Similar to Pomme Gris.
Belle Fille - A very rich apple - low in acid and high in tannin. Flesh is soft and a bit dry.
Belle Fleur Rouge - An interesting large apple with dash of pink in the flesh. It has a pleasant acidic perfumed taste in the McIntosh school, as good as a McIntosh I would say but less meaty, more grape-like. It is a little too sour, it needs more sugars to balance the acid level. The tree has red leaves. Removed ~2012.
Doctor Mathews - A very good McIntosh like apple.
Egremont Russet - A very crispy flavorful russet. On the sour side. But like many other English apples it is highly prone to rot; Removed ~2014.
Court Pendu Plat - A richly flavored yellow-flesh apple. Very sweet. Best as a cooker, it has a lot of flavor after cooking. Problems with spot rotting since it has a very flat top.
Hooples Antique Gold - A very nice looking apple, no rotting or sooty blotch and beautiful shape. On top of that they have extraordinary flavor - similar to Freyburg in that the well ripened ones have some anise overtone. Very sweet and aromatic. Also very crunchy. Quite extraordinary overall!! Only one year from it but its looking to be a favorite.
Blenheim Orange - Very large fruits with a dull skin. This is my favorite cooking apple, it has a very rich flavor when cooked. But its also perfectly fine as an eating apple.
Shizuka - A good very large apple, it tastes like a cross of Mutsu and Golden Delicious. Can go mealy.
Smokehouse - Somewhere I read it tastes like fresh apple cider and that seems about right - a nice refreshing taste. It gets too many skin problems to be a top tier fruit. Has been very reliable for fruiting however. Removed ~2012.
Fennoulet Gris - no fennel; has the unusual creamy/slimy texture of e.g. Rambour d’Automne. Extensive damage on fruits. Not Fenouillet Gris for sure. This was from Geneva and I am pretty sure they have a mis-id in their collection.
Orleans Reinette - This is a high quality late hard keeping apple. It has a few staggered late blooms and was a huge fireblight problem for that reason. Also had a fair amount of skin spotting. Removed 2012.
D’Arcy Spice - Bland mealy blech. Removed ~2008.
Cox’s Orange Pippin - I did not keep this apple around long but it was highly prone to watercore/rot like its relative Allington Pippin. I did get a few very tasty apples from it.
Rubinette - Huge quantities of sweets, sours, and aromatics. If you like intense apples this one is for you. It mellows in storage; while it can get a bit rubbery it keeps fairly well. It has been very reliable and productive. Curculio like it a lot but other than that it has few problems.
Margil - I had bad luck with this variety; when it was good it was very good, with a rich nutty flavor. But some years it was just a blah taste. The rootstock had serious vigor problems so I feel like I did not give this variety a fair test. Died 2012.
Canada Reinette - An excellent cooker with a sweet/sour flavor that blends very well when cooked. I had truly horrible fireblight problems with this variety so it was removed. Removed ~2012.
Hawaii - Similar to Golden Delicious but with a more balanced fruity flavor. A very nice apple, with few rot problems.
Yellow Bellflower - Its a classic baked apple and that seems about right based on flavor. Perfectly OK fresh eating but not great. Removed 2014.
Brownlees Russet - A poor cousin to Pomme Gris - less flavor but otherwise similar. Removed ~2014.
Hewes aka Virginia Crab - An extremely rich flavor with just enough tannin to give it a pleasant bite. But, this apple is quite a bit earlier than the historical Virginia Crab; according to Tom Burford the Hewes of today is a seedling of the original one. Because it is early it gets a lot of rots and is too early for main cider season for me. Removed ~2014.
Old Nonpareil - A very good sweet/sour crunchy apple. Tons of sour in particular. Early on they are very sharp, intense. Will probably age to a really great apple based on the starches at harvest time, but I have not gotten enough of them to age. The main downside is the small size.
Belle de Pontoise - A very nice large savory apple.
Newtown Spitzenburg - Got very little in the way of harvest from this variety before it died. Fine apple nothing unusual however. Died ~2010.
Rambour d’Automne - An excellent tangy apple; something like McIntosh school but more creamy/slimy and quite different aromatics. Bad watercore nearly every year however. Removed ~2012.
Pomme Gris - This is a great russet, it has a coconut-like texture and delicate flavor. Better than Golden Russet for fresh eating. Skin holds up very well to rots and no bug damage. What a great apple. Not particularly sweet or sour but excellent flavor balance and texture. They don’t keep very well, they soften.
Claygate Pearmain - Wowza, lotsa zing plus rich flavor. unfortunately it is highly prone to summer diseases as well as mealiness and watercore. In other words, yet another English apple not doing so well in my climate. Removed ~2010.
Lamb Abbey Pearmain - I have not gotten much flavor from apples on this tree thus far, but it has not produced many so the judgement is still out.
Roxbury Russet - A nice sweet/tart apple of the yellow school — yellow-fleshed and with few aromatics.
Reine des Reinettes - It has a very rich flavor and is one of the best cooking/processing apples. It has that classic tart tatin flavor when cooked. Looks very similar to Gala but more tart, with more hard flesh and a better flavor but not quite as sweet.
Reinette Gris Parmentier - Solidly decent russet apple. Very large compared to other russets. More consistent size. Not quite as sweet as Golden Russet but still sweeter than your average apple and very good flavor and crunch. Good against rots etc.
Swiss Orange - Less sour/sweet version of Rubinette. Showing some watercore but not rotting so much. A nice looking apple, few blemishes and nice flattened shape. Good crunch good flavor when fully ripe, very well balanced. Only one year fruiting at this point; could turn out to be a good one.
Westfield Seek No Further - A solid apple, vague McIntosh school in taste, minimal rotting/spotting.
Wagener - Very good mild fruity taste in the general Mac family but more fruity (grape). An excellent well-rounded flavor balance, becoming one of my favorite apples. Not a long keeper, soft flesh. Somewhat prone to rot/spot.
Hubbardston Nonesuch - Very nice apple similar to Abbondanza and Worcester Pearmain - tender and lots of sweet/sour/aroma.
Reinette de Chenee - Sweet apple with touch of sour. Good texture. Not an aromatic or overly flavorful apple but I did not have too many of them. Had to remove to make room for other trees. Removed ~2010.
Apricot - Good interesting flavor. Rotting too much. Very hard flesh. Aging makes it taste like a yellow school apple. No apricot flavor detected thus far however.
Reinette de Cuzy - Has a narrow picking window prone to mealiness if picked late, but has an excellent savory flavor when properly ripened.
Maigold - A hard-fleshed later apple with standard nice apple taste plus an interesting unusual tart flavor in the background.
Hudsons Golden Gem - Fantastic taste but LOTS of problems. Curcs and stinkbugs out the wazoo. Heavy watercore and strange pink spots inside. Enough of this tree! Removed 2015.
Wickson - Very sweet and grape-like in taste. Unusual clear-ish flesh and texture. My younger tree was highly prone to cracking but now that it is older I have not had any cracking. I need wasp traps just for it, the high sugars draws massive quantities of wasps. Fruit are prone to rots.
Bonne Hotture - They have an interesting, unusual, rich flavor. I wish I could describe it.
Reinette du Mans - Somewhat similar to Blenheim, likely a triploid large apple with that creamy taste. Goes mealy fast.
Myers Royal Limbertwig - A good large apple. No rot problems, another southern apple shows its southern roots. The flavor is something like a yellow school apple but also has some grape-like fruitiness thrown in.
de Jaune - A standard yellow school apple. Removed it since it was not in a good spot. Removed ~2013.
Franc Roseau - A classic super sweet/tart acidic crunchy type apple. Prone to watercore and rot problems. Removed ~2011.
Mother - Need to be picked when there is no green on the bottoms - they are not so good when picked early. They have a rich unique taste when well-grown.
Magnum Bonum - A nice sweet/savory balance in the taste; looking to be another very good southern apple but only one year fruiting so far.
King David - A very good classic American red apple. I have had almost no harvest from my tree but it was crammed very tightly; it has been given more room so hopefully I will be getting more apples from it in the future.
not Chestnut - I’m not sure what this variety is, it was labeled Chestnut but is far too late to be Chestnut. It seems like a really good cider crab whatever it is - tannins plus flavor. Sugar isn’t as good as Wickson but is still reasonable. Not as sour as Wickson.
Reinette Clochard - This apple in late Oct is wonderful. A very flavorful yellow school apple. Rich flavor with hints of lemon and pineapple. I need to remember to let it haaaang!
Sturmer Pippin - A reasonable yellow-school apple, but highly prone to bug damage. Removed ~2010.
Ashmead’s Kernel - My tree has not set yet due to deer damage, but I have had many of these grown locally and I am extremely impressed with it so am listing it here anyway - a more flavorful version of Golden Russet. Small, somewhat dry, hard flesh and ugly looks are the main downsides.
Pomme Cloche - A late yellow-fleshed apple with a strong sweet/tart flavor. Similar to Roxbury Russet and other “yellow school” apples in taste.
Jonathan - A great classic sour apple.
Fuji - An excellent backyard apple, like Gala it is easy to grow and tastes good. The home grown version is better than the store version which is picked too early. Let hang a long time and store and you will have a great honey-tasting apple.
Reinette Gris Santoinge - A good apple similar to Ashmeads Kernel; quite dry flesh. Ashmeads is better, more sugar. Removed ~2012.
Abbondanza - It sets like crazy and I never thin it enough (I think we can guess where the name comes from). The taste is a delicate fruity with a hint of rose petals. Without super heavy thinning the sugars can suffer. The flesh is non-breaking and chewy, not like modern apples. This apple looks/tastes something like Hubbardston Nonesuch and Worcester Pearmain. It needs cellaring for best flavor and sweetness - it stays starchy for some time. After cellaring the flesh stops being chewy.
Winesap - This is a late storage apple. I never stored any and had to remove the tree to make room at some point. Removed ~2010.
Rambour d 'Hiver - A good somewhat savory apple. The main advantage of this apple is it produces a huge load of nearly unblemished fruit every year. A very old apple primarily for cooking but still good eating. This is turning into one of my favorite apples due to its incredible reliability and productivity. It gets better with storage, like all old winter apples it is a cellaring variety.
Golden Russet - They need lots of hang time and then some time in the cellar to get good flavor and texture. Too prone to rot.
Rambour Franc - lots of watercore. Decent taste but nothing particularly outstanding. This is the Geneva repository version of this apple, I don’t think it is the same as the one the French talk about as it is not an early apple.
Gold Rush - Very hard flesh, strong sweet/sour flavor which mellows when stored. Hints of anise when ripened fully on the tree. Probably the best low-spray backyard apple if you have a long enough season to ripen it. Needs very heavy thinning, it can approach biennial if not thinned well. Let hang a long time or they will lack flavor - I look for the yellow color to darken and some red tints to show up on some of the apples. It needs to be picked over several weeks as they do not ripen at the same time. No problems with summer rots, CAR is the only weakness of this fantastic apple.
Newtown Pippin - A classic American apple which needs a good amount of aging to get the best flavor. Creamy tart pineapple-y taste. Few summer disease problems for me.
Rusty Coat - Dry, tannic russet with an interesting aftertaste. Excellent bug and disease resistance. Hard to pick as it gets fully russeted well before it is ripe; wait for them to get dark bronze in color. Needs cellaring. A beautiful bronze ball, on the small size. It has potential as a cider apple.
Black twig - A very late apple that needs cellaring. I didn’t ever cellar any but the pre-cellared ones were very low in flavor. Removed ~2010.
White Winter Pearmain - A very late apple that needs to be picked quite late and stored. Tastes like a Mutsu after storage. Main advantage of this variety is lack of any skin etc problem and great storage potential.
Pink Lady - Home grown ones in my climate are similar to store version — like a commercial orchard I need to pick early since my season is not quite long enough. Few skin problems since it is so late. Removed ~2010.
- Hooples Antique Gold
- Gold Rush
- Pitmaston Pineapple
- Bonne Hotture
- Reine des Reinettes
- Ashmead's Kernel
- Kidds Orange Red
- Pomme Gris
- Newtown Pippin
- Golden Russet (American)
- White Winter Pearmain
- Golden Nugget
- Wickson Crab
- Ribston Pippin
- Myers Royal Limbertwig
- Pink Lady
Overall top - including growability in mid-atlantic.
- Hooples Antique Gold
- Pomme Gris
- Reine des Reinettes
- Kidds Orange Red
- Newtown Pippin
- Jefferis (for early)
European Cider apples None of these worked out; I didn’t take the best notes on why, but most of them that did not get fireblight rotted very badly. I grew about 25 different varieties and they all seem to have common genes leading to common problems of rot and fireblight. My conclusion is these are highly inappropriate for our climate unless an intensive spray program is followed, and I’m not even sure they would be worth growing with intensive spray as they tend to ripen too early and have all the tannins baked out of them by our heat.
Fuero Rous - Often had significant tannins at harvest but highly prone to rot - turned to mush some years.
Marie Menard - Often had tannin but prone to rot.
Dabinette - Very good taste but little tannins.
not Binet Blanc - This fruit was not true to name, it is something like Binet Rouge.
Frequin Rouge - These guys are very prone to rot, they are soft and ripen in the heat. Probably not worth keeping. Excellent rich taste however.
Cap o Liberty - nice small juicy apple few tannins however (yet another no-tannin English apple). This guy does have very good taste however.
Feulliard - Nothing special.
Launette - whitish mild tannins
Frequin Lacaille - marbled look mildly tannic
Frequin Tardive - Frequin like look but more mild tannins
Mettais - mild tannins
Domaines - don’t recall but mild
Saint Martin - more mild tannins
Binet Rouge - ditto; cotton-mouth texture.
Porters Perfection - little tannin and not much flavor either.
Noel des Champs - excellent flavor but little tannins; much later than all the others, its clear what the Noel is doing in the name.