Suggestions for summer apples-midwest zone 5

Hi all,

I’m considering adding an early summer apple, but I’ve never tried to grow any of the very early fruiters before, and I don’t think I’ve even tasted an apple any earlier than Williams Pride. Do you have suggestions for good summer apples? (I know Pristine is a good option. Any others?)

My basic criteria:

  • early, for me, means before mid-August (zone 5, just west of Chicago); There are lots of good options in mid-late August and early September (e.g. here, that’s Sansa, Mollies, Gingergold, and Zestar), but it’s the earlier ones I haven’t tried–nothing earlier than Pristine.
  • needs to be as disease resistant as possible for an early apple: preferably, suitable for organic methods; I’ve heard most are not that disease resistant. (We’ve got some pressure from rust and mildew but serious pressure from scab.). I spray, but I’m not looking for something that needs way more attention than the average apple.
  • I’m open to almost any good quality apple: texture, sweetness, and primary use are negotiable.
  • keeping quality isn’t that important. Hey, they’re summer apples after all, but anything that provides a slightly longer harvest window or that keeps for more than a few days gets bonus points.

Yellow Transparent, Lodi, Red Astrachan, Lowland Raspberry are possibilities that ripen ahead of Pristine
Yellow June and William’s Favorite are two more.

I can’t really say anything good about them other than they’re early, but Geneva Early and Anoka also ripen before Pristine.

William’s Favorite or Lowland Raspberry most disease resistant until you get to Pristine or Redfree. But, others may have some better ones to suggest. Most newer apples are for giant Washington growers, not for early family usage.


I debated whether yellow transparent was worthy of taking up extra space in the orchard since it only ripens marginally ahead of Pristine. I decided no, and grafted more pristine. We don’t make a bunch of apple sauce, so yellow transparent’s main redeeming quality otherwise is that it makes me appreciate the pristine more :slight_smile:


Early Harvest?
And I have acquired/grafted July Stripe, July Sweet, and June Sweet (haven’t tried any of them, and for all I know, they might end up being the same apple). Carolina Red June gets fireblight pretty bad, and is more sour/acidic than I’d want in a fresh eating apple…but it ripens in mid to late July, actually. I’ve also obtained Summer Rose: don’t know much about it, but supposed to ripen in early July.

Lowland Raspberry ripens last week of June in zone 6…but if you expect a firm and crisp apple, you can skip it. Teeth not required to eat it I’ve been told. Geneva Early is mealy when ripe…but not sour. Anoka usually drops in June, and is not eating quality in my opinion, but fried apples or apple butter or jelly maybe. An early food for wildlife perhaps?


What about Vistabella? It ripens at the same time as yellow transparent. The taste is not memorable, nothing special but the apple is juicy and refreshing. The internet tells me it was bred at Rutgers so it may be more available in the US than my other ideas.

My next suggestions are Akerö and George Cave. These are varieties that I desperately want, because I I read that they are robust.

I guess that Duchess of Oldenburg is too late for your criteria?


You might try Monark, bred for disease resistance by U of Arkansas.

Summer, crisp, pleasantly tart.


Actually, I am grafting that one too this spring, hambone.

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How is it as a useful apple, i.e., taste, longevity, and crispness for a earlier apple?

My favorite early apple is Monark.
I am growing Monark in zone 6a southeastern MI. Here it usually ripens the first week of August.
Good balanced flavor for an early apple and seems to be disease resistant. Mine also started bearing good crops in only 3 years.


I have one growing in my orchard and it has not yet produced fruit yet. I picked it for just those same reasons you mentioned. I planted my Monark tree in 2017. I expect to perhaps get some fruit this year.

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I’ll probably graft mine to B9 or add to Frankentree. Will look forward to an early apple that’s good and trouble free.

I have Dutchess of Oldenberg on order…from FEDCO in Maine. The FEDCO website describes it better than I can, but decided with all the apples I’m collecting, might as well add this old time favorite from over 200 years ago.

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First of all it’s one of the healthiest trees I’ve ever seen. The leaves had no scab or other illnesses as long as I can remember. (Planted ~2008) and we don’t spray at all. This year we got no apples from it because the summer was so dry. We had almost no rain for two months. It’s a standard tree and quite far away from the house so watering wasn’t an option.
But if it has fruit I like them very much. They are juicier and crunchier than a typical early apple like Yellow Transparent. Compared to YT you actually feel resistance against your teeth.
Tastewise I feel they are similar to a Gravenstein without the typical Gravenstein-aroma, but with a similar acidity.
They are good for baking.
We pick them at the end of August, and they keep probably 2 to 3 weeks in our (quite warm) cellar. In the fridge they would no doubt keep much better.

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Sounds like a great apple. That was the reasons I picked this apple. So many good things about this apple.

My orchard is far away from my house also. I am on a well so watering is not really an option because to haul water to the top orchard. We had a huge drought this year as well. No true rain for over three months. Probably a few sprinkles for maybe a 5 minute intervals a few times but not even enough rain to even make the sidewalk damp. I did not lose any young trees, thankfully.

Sounds you had a similar situation where you live.

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I also like Williams pride a lot. I think they usually ripen around mid-late august around here.
I like to eat them, but they are my favorite sauce apple.


Sounds really similar. We do have wells too, but that is drinking water for the village.

I am pretty sure that is not something the village would appreciate, using the village water for your own orchard. My own well does not hold that much water. So I need that for just everyday items. When we have a a long drought I just hope the trees stay healthy enough to the next rain we get. If not , so be it. I can’t sacrifice the well going dry for a tree.

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Well, considering you’re not that far from me, I can’t remember too many summers here where I had to do much of any watering, even for my gardens. Lots of summer rain usually, but last year was the exception.

I can only remember two recent summers where I really needed ( or wanted ) to water. Last year was the worst, we had almost three months of no rain. I did get some gallon jugs and give three gallons of water to each of three new trees I planted. They did make it through the summer, thankfully.
There was rain about me and below me.I would drive three miles in either direction when the clouds looked like rain and the streets would be wet or worse yet there was standing puddles of water. I was just in a pocket where I got no rain.