Choosing the Right Cultivar to Plant

gala apple

Several variables should be considered when selecting apple cultivars to plant. Important factors include cold hardiness (some cultivars will not survive extreme winter low temperatures), heat tolerance,  disease resistance, time of harvest, intended uses and time of bloom. Apples require cross-pollination between two cultivars that must bloom at the same time.

Commercial orchardists must consider cultivars for an intended market. For example, processors will pay a premium price for ‘Northern Spy’ for pie filling, but there is little demand for …

Pollinating Apples

Figure 1. Bumblebee on apple blossom (Alan R. Biggs, West Virginia University)

Apples require cross-pollination for optimal fruit set and size.  Cross-pollination involves the transfer of pollen from one apple cultivar to another by pollinating insects, such as bees which are referred to as pollinators.  The cultivar supplying the pollen is called the pollinizer.  For successful pollination to occur, bloom periods must overlap.  Triploids apple cultivars, such as ‘Mutsu’, ‘Jonagold’, and ‘Shizuka’, cannot supply viable pollen and are unsuitable as …

Disease-Resistant Apple Cultivars

There are more than 100 modern apple cultivars, and several dozen antique varieties, that have been selected in part for their disease resistance. They offer a broad range of flavors, appearance, taste profiles, storage potential, and harvest dates from mid-summer to early winter. This disease resistance was achieved by hybridization with other apple species with resistance to significant diseases, primarily apple scab (Venturia inaequalis), through natural selection or controlled breeding. Malus floribunda, also known as Japanese flowering crabapple,  …

Parentage of Apple Cultivars


Nearly all apple cultivars have two parents – just like humans!  Apples have a genetic system that generally prohibits self-fertilization.  This self-incompatibility system is a way of insuring that each apple seed will be a hybrid between the maternal (seed) parent and a paternal (pollen) parent. The self-incompatibilty system is also the reason why two or more cultivars must be planted in an orchard to achieve fruit production through insect-vectored movement of pollen from one cultivar to the other.


Table of Juniper, Hawthorn, and Crab Apple Resistant to Rust Diseases


Cedar-apple rust is a fungus disease of apple and cedar and spends parts of its life cycle on each host. It is caused by Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae. The fungus can infect leaves and fruit of most cultivars in the eastern region. This table lists juniper, hawthorn, and crab apple cultivars with resistance to rust diseases. 

Juniperus (Juniper) Crataegus (Hawthorn) Malus (Crab Apple)
Cedar-apple and hawthorn rust resistant Cedar hawthorn rust resistant Cedar hawthorn rust resistant
J. ashei C. crus-galli ‘Adams’

U.S. Fruit Tree Nurseries

Adams County Nursery Inc., 26 Nursery Rd., P.O. Box 108, Aspers, PA 17304

Agri-Sun Nursery, 15935 S. Temperance Ave., Selma, CA 93662

Banning Orchards and Nursery, 4000 Grant Rd., East Wenatchee, WA 98802

Boyer Nursery & Orchards Inc., 405 Boyer Nursery Rd., Biglerville, PA 17307

Brandt’s Fruit Trees Inc., P.O. Box B, Parker, WA 98939

Burchell Nursery Inc., 12000 State Highway 120, Oakdale, CA 95361

Cameron Nursery, 1261 Ringold Rd., P.O. Box 300, Eltopia, WA 99330-0300 …

International Fruit Tree Nurseries

D&L Nursery, 75 Avenue Joxe, 49100 Angers, France

Janssen Brothers Nurseries Limited, PO Box 2711 6030 aa Nederweert, Holland

Jos Morren Nurseries, Bosstraat 85-85 3545, Halen, Belgium

Nakajima Tenkoen Co., No. 34, 1-Chome Nakajima dori, Higashine City, Yamagata Perf. Japan 999-37

Schrama Nursery, Prof. Zuurlaan 10, 8256 PE, Biddinghuizen, Holland

Star Fruits, Les Genets D’or, No. 14, 84430 Mondragon, France

Viveros Requinoa, Victoria Subercaseaux No. 323, Santiago, Chile

Wiel Willems, Zuidwesterringweg 5-II, 8308 PC Nagele, Holland

As Cooperative Extension educators,

U.S. Fruit Tree Rootstock Nurseries

Brandt’s Fruit Trees, Inc., PO Box B, Parker, WA 98951

Burchell Nursery, Inc., 4201 McHenry Ave., Modesto, CA 95356

Cameron Nursery, 1261 Ringold Rd., PO Box 300, Eltopia, WA 99330-0300

Copenhaven Farms Nursery, 12990 SW Copenhaven Rd., Gaston, OR 97119

Cummins Nursery, 18 Glass Factory Bay Rd., Geneva, NY 14456

Grootendorst Nurseries, Lakeside, MI 49116

Four Mile, 27027 South Hwy. 170, Canby, OR 97013

Lawyer Nursery, Inc., 950 Highway 200 West, Plains, MT 59859

How do I find out what variety my apple tree it is? Can my local Extension office tell me ?

It is difficult to identify apple varieties unless your variety is a very common one. There are more than 10,000 named apple varieties in the world today. Sometimes we may be able to tell what “type” of apple it is (e.g., Jonathan type, Delicious type). When planting fruit in the landscape, it is important to create a plan showing where different varieties are planted. Put the plan in a notebook and a copy in the garage or planting shed.…