Will the real Golden Russet please stand up?

I am surprised at how the different “Golden Russet” apples continue to be mixed up, just like they were mixed up 100 years ago. I recall some discussions about whether GR was sour or not, I was stating it was somewhat sour and Alan you were stating it was not, etc.

I decided to put in a graft of “American Golden Russet” a few years ago and it is finally fruiting, next to my “Golden Russet” that I believe came from Cummins. These apples are very different, and I believe that my “GR” is the English version, sometimes called English Golden Russet. EGR is sour, AGR is not very sour. EGR has some shiny spots of yellow coming through, whereas AGR has no shine on it. EGR rots pretty badly for me whereas AGR is a more durable apple.

What kind of “Golden Russet” do you have? I can probably take some pictures of mine if there is interest.


The Golden Russet that ACN sells and the one described most often is syrupy sweet with thick (syrupy) juice. This is the Golden Russet famous for cider and beloved by stinkbugs and wasps everywhere. It is dense, coarse and highly pleasing to people as well. It won’t be ripe for at least two weeks here- probably 3 or 4. Until then it will have a different description, but stinkbugs and wasps already consider it to be world class.


I purchased mine from Orange Pippin fruit company. It is as Alan describes it. I also got my Ashmeads Kernel from them and think it’s a better Apple than the Golden Russet.

Does it have non-russet yellow patches that take a shine if you buff it? That seems to be the most clear distinction between the two that I have. I expect that nearly everyone is selling EGR now, including Cummins who calls it an American apple.

John, I also prefer Ashmeads to my “Golden Russet”.


From where did you obtain your American version?

Mine is from Trees of Antiquity and looks generally like the image it has. I would say the image that the UK National Fruit Collection has in its entry it for ‘American Golden Russet’ is a different variety from what my tree produces. I’ll try to follow up with a picture.

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Golden Russets that I manage are solid Russet.

I also prefer Ash- but I’m an old acid-head. GR is all sugar- but in a good way- much as is Hudson’s Golden Gem.

It surprises me that Cummins doesn’t have the same type as ACN. From my reading, the sugary GR is the industry standard. It is still grown somewhat as a commercial apple- especially for smaller orchards that sell their own sweet cider. I help manage a small commercial orchard that feeds a gourmet cider pressing business and a third of his apples are Golden Russet. He mixes them with a lot of N. Spy for zing to go with that sugar.

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Thanks for that UK link @Vohd. I think my “AGR” matches their AGR. Here is a rough breakdown of the current guess of who is selling what:

ACN (as GR), Botner (as AGR), Fedco (as Bullock)

Cummins (as GR), Trees of Antiquity (as GR), Grampas (as GR), Fedco (as GR)

I am going to try to get pictures of mine here, hopefully this weekend. I also got a tree of “AGR” from Century Farm Orchards, so will have one more data point in a year or two.

Scott, is somebody selling scions out of the Botner collection? I googled it but found no information indicating that they were available. It would be nice if the Temperate Orchard Society were selling/swapping them.

Grandpa’s sells the EGR version.

I do not have AGR but have on order scion from USDA of Tolman Sweet that based on the descriptions is a super sweet apple like AGR. Any one growing Tolman Sweet and Golden Russet that can offer an opinion on how these varieties compare? I am going to the Century Farm Orchard open house in November and am considering picking up a AGR tree.

Thanks Chris, I edited the above to include Grampas in the EGR.

If you got to Century Farm see if you can get a look at some of their “AGR” to confirm. I can’t tell from their picture.

@marknmt, Botner is defunct for now but in a few years there should be the new orchard of his varieties going. Well, I think Botner may still be selling some things via Seed Savers, I saw him in the latest catalog if I recall.

Mine seem pretty solid russet, but some of my apples do have some shiny parts on them. I took one off of the tree and it was pretty sweet, not sure if they are totally ripe yet.

Is there a difference in the ripening time between AGR and EGR? Another variety in this family is Bullock, an earlier ripening version. I notice it’s leaves have a greener tint than my GR which is slightly bluish and fuzzy on the leaf undersides.

Jesse, AGR is universally recognized as a synonym for Bullock. There is supposed to be a week or two ripening difference between EGR and AGR, I forget now which way it goes however.

Another interesting listing is Fedco’s, they list a Bullock and under it put AGR as a synonym. Their separately-listed “Golden Russet” they state is in fact “Golden Russet of Western New York” in the description - and, GRoWNY is a synonym of EGR in all the old pomologies (e.g. Apples of New York) so its probably the same as EGR as well. Since Fedco’s “GR” is in fact EGR/GRoWNY, it makes sense why Cummins’ is as well - that is what was most commonly called GR in western NY.

PS I added Fedco to the above hypothesis list of whose GR is what.

I acquired my golden russett in 2008 from Vintage Virginia Apples: Fruit | Albemarle Ciderworks & Vintage Virginia Apples

Once ripe, they are sweet.

Bullock (AGR) is supposed to ripen ahead of EGR by a few weeks. I have picked them(AGR) around now at a Maine orchard in years past. Those apples were entirely russeted, rich and sweet with some acid. Thanks for starting this clarifying post.

I don’t think the Cummins GR is the EGR. I bought mine from them and it is bearing for the first time this year. Here is one which fell off the tree (the other side had a large bruised (rot?) area. The brix wasn’t that high yet (13-15), but it definitely wasn’t sour- it was actually pretty mild. I also didn’t see any non-russeted spots. The tree isn’t all that heavy setting and took until year #3 to have any apples. What there was got attacked by bees starting in August and there is only 1 left on the tree.

For the last 2-3 years I’ve been getting quite a few (more than 30 lbs one year) GR from a PYO (Averill Farm). I haven’t seen any non-russeted spots either. They are often over 20 brix and not sour (they have some kick, but are nothing at all like Ashmeads, at least fresh ones). I spoke with the owner and they said that they got most of their trees from Cummins as well, though I don’t think I asked specifically about the GR.

Two years ago I grafted another GR from Maple Valley. I’m interested to see if that one is similar. So far it has grown well, but no flowers.


My Golden Russet graft, which I’ve presumed is American, proffered its first fruit for me about a week ago. It wasn’t fully ripe, still a bit starchy, but registered 22 brix and did have a bit of tartness and a rich flavor.

It is one of my favorite apples and these were consistent with the one’s I’ve gotten from a local grocery store over the last several years.

Hopefully there are still a few left out there. They are in a tree that I grafted too high in my first attempt at avoiding deer browse, and when I finally got up to look close I discovered that most are pretty bird pecked.

The Bramley’s and Kandil Sinap on the same tree were all taken by wildlife before ripe.

I’ve been making a lot of cider this week, so I tried Golden Russet And it seems it would make a perfect single cider.

It is a very fine cider apple across many growing regions.
Some I picked yesterday, I believe these are English GR with their uneven russet and acidic bite. Juice was 1.068 SG, or around 18 brix.