Opened on March 04, 2021. Last updated by The POOG on March 15, 2021.

Growth Climate Zones

The apple cultivar recommendations reviewed in this article are generally for zones 5b and warmer. That covers Southern Ontario. See Figure 1 below for an Ontario zone map.    

Figure 1. Plant Hardiness zones for Ontario.

General Culture

General cultural recommendations are found in the publication Apple IPM. It is an index to the following topics which we will not expand on:

Pollination Requirements

Although apple trees are self-fruitful, production may be improved by cross-pollination.

Recommended Apple Varieties for Ontario

Apples are the predominant fruit crop in Ontario and have a corresponding degree of research and published literature. Unlike other tree fruits, apples varieties in the Ontario Government literature are broken down by region.

Definition of General, Limited and Trial Planting

General Planting – These are well-known varieties of proven performance that grow well under most conditions. Plantings have no significant size concerns for any site other than market restrictions.

Limited/Regional Planting – These varieties have value but should be limited in extent of planting. Some may have proven valuable in trial plantings and warrant further commercial experience. Others may be adapted to a specific region or be useful only for selected markets.

Trial Planting – These are promising, newer varieties which require further testing to establish their commercial value.

By growing region and planting category, cultavar descriptions are listed below.

Below are recommended cultivars. Many are reviewed in Disease Resistant Apple Cultivars. Of these, disease resistance across the five most common diseases are shown along with harvest dates.Where links are available for specific descriptions they are embedded in the name.

Name colour codes are: green (#3fd200) for first choice due to the best characteristics of late maturity, fruit properties, and disease tolerance of trees; orange (#d2a400) for second choice for trees that are slightly less than optimal but still excellent; and red (#ff0000) for not recommended because of one or more severe limitations. Names uncoloured in black are considered undistinguished but may still be planted as good trees. Cultivar characteristics that have factored into the colour coding are shown in bold.

Cultivars are:

  • Ambrosia – A good-quality bicolour apple ripening in Delicious season. Fruit is medium to large size; attractive; crisp; sweet; low acid; very juicy; distinct, pleasant aroma; mild flavour. Ambrosia stores well in Standard CA for 6 to 7 months. Tree is spur type, upright growth. Limbs should be tied down early in the life of the tree.
  • Aurora
  • Belmac2 – Resembles McIntosh, skin smooth and glossy with up to 90% red, slightly stripped over a green background colour. Flesh is white, medium to coarse texture, mild sub-acid. Cold hardy.
  • Braeburn
  • Britegold2 – Yellow, medium to large size, sweet, flesh creamy yellow, slightly coarse, tender, and juicy. Bruises easily. Short storage. Home garden use.
  • Cameo
  • Cortland
  • Creston – It has large, high-quality red fruit with moderate firmness. Fruit is sweet and low in acid. Not as crisp and firm as Fuji, but just as juicy. Will store in air for 2 months. Tree is moderately vigorous with a spreading tendency to bear biennially. It is open spreading with medium to high vigour. Susceptible to powdery mildew and not a good pollinator.
  • Crispin (Mutsu)
  • Dayton2 – 80 – 90% attractive glossy red over yellow background colour. Flesh pale yellow, crisp, juicy, firm, fine grained, and moderately acid. Short storage. Home garden use.
  • Earligold
  • Empire
  • Enterprise2 – Medium fruit size, washed 80 – 100% medium red on a very bright and glossy green-yellow ground colour. Flesh is fine grained, pale yellow to cream coloured, firm, crisp, sub-acid. Has potential as a commercial cultivar.
  • Florina (Querina®)2 -Fruit 50% red on yellow ground colour, firm, small to medium size, sweet flavour. Whitish-yellow flesh, very crisp, low acid. Deserves further evaluation.
  • Fortune
  • Freedom2 – 80% red strips on a yellow background, large size. Flesh is creamy, juicy, firm, medium fine grained, tender and moderately acid. Short storage. Has potential as a commercial cultivar.
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Ginger Gold – Fruit is medium to large, sweet, mildly tart and is a vibrant yellow when tree ripe. Very susceptible to mildew and highly susceptible to fire blight under Ontario growing conditions..
  • Golden Russet
  • Goldrush2 – The fruit is medium in size, excellent in texture and storage (up to 7 months possible in air storage (0°C)). firm, dry, and slightly coarse. The flavour is a good, somewhat acid, complex spicy mixture with a high degree of sugar. The trees are heavily spurred, slightly upright and moderately vigorous with limited branching and a strong tendency to produce a central leader. Fruit thinning is required. It is susceptible to cedar apple rust, and has moderate resistance to fire blight but is susceptible to powdery mildew.
  • Honeycrisp – The fruit has a scarlet blush over a yellow background. The fruit is medium to large. It is very susceptible to disorders such as bitter pit, soft scald and low temperature break down. Fruit should be thinned to 6 fruits per cm of trunk cross sectional area.
  • Idared
  • Jerseymac
  • Jonafree2 – 90 – 95% red, medium-sized with pale yellow flesh. Crisp, juicy, very firm, fine grained, mildly acid and pleasant aroma. Has potential as a commercial cultivar.
  • Jonagold1
  • Jonamac
  • Liberty2 – 90% dark red with a yellowish background colour. Somewhat striped, moderately acid, flavour good. Flesh is yellowish, juicy, crisp, and fine textured. Excellent disease resistance.
  • Lobo
  • Macfree2 – 75% medium red over greenish-yellow background, medium to small size. Flesh is juicy, white with a slight green tinge. Firm, moderately coarse, pleasant, moderately acid. Medium eating quality.
  • Macoun
  • McIntosh
  • McShay2 – 70% dark red blush over a green background colour, similar to McIntosh. Flesh, moderately firm, fine texture, juicy, mild flavour and low acid. Low disease resistance.
  • Moira2 – Red, medium to small size, flesh creamy white with a green tinge. Medium eating quality. Low disease resistance.
  • Murray2 – Red, medium sized, flesh is soft, juicy, white and fine textured. Home garden use. Excellent disease resistance but short storage life (< 1 mo.)
  • Northern Spy
  • Nova Easygro2 – Striped or washed, medium red over a green-yellow background. Medium sized, flesh is creamy white, moderately fine, firm, crisp, moderately juicy, and low acid. Home garden use.
  • Novamac2 – Fruit medium size, 50 – 90% blushed or striped medium red with a greenish-yellow background. Flesh is creamy white, fine, tender, moderately crisp, juicy, and moderately acid. Similar to McIntosh. Has potential as a commercial cultivar.
  • Novaspy2 – Similar to Northern Spy, greenish yellow striped or blushed with dark red. Flesh creamy yellow, fine, very firm, crisp, moderately tender, juicy and moderately acid. Has potential as a commercial cultivar.
  • Paulared
  • Pioneer Mac
  • Prima2 – 60 – 80% bright red blush over a yellow background. Flesh is moderately acid, medium grained, crisp, and juicy. Tree lacks winter hardiness. Short storage. Home garden use.
  • Primevère2 – Fruit bright and glossy dark cardinal red, slightly conical. Flesh is moderately coarse grained, pale green to white, firm, crisp. Disease resistance partly unknown. Has commercial potential.
  • Priscilla2 – 70 – 90% bright red blush over a light yellow background. Flesh is crisp, medium grained, juicy, mild flavour and low acid. Fruit size can be small. Home garden use. Good disease resistance.
  • Pristine™2 – Fruit medium size, pale green-yellow at harvest, maturing to deep yellow, with moderate orange blush. Flesh is pale yellow, crisp, medium to fine grained, medium acid to sweet. Short storage.
  • Red Delicious
  • Redfree2 – 80 – 90% glossy medium red on a yellow background. Flesh is firm, light cream, medium grained, crisp, juicy, mild flavour, low acid. Uneven ripening. Has potential as a commercial cultivar for late August to early September.
  • Richelieu2 – Fruit 50 – 60% medium red, striped over green to light yellow ground colour, medium in size. Flesh white, tender, juicy, fine texture, mild to sub-acid. Disease resistance partly unknown.
  • Rouville2 – Fruit large, 75 – 80% medium red, lightly striped, over pale green to yellow ground colour. Flesh is white, tender, slightly coarse, and sub-acid. Disease resistance largely unknown.
  • Shizuka
  • Silken
  • Sir Prize2 – Yellow, can have a slight red blush, can russet. Large, bruises easily, flesh is juicy, crisp, and very tender. Poor pollenizer. Home garden use.
  • Spartan
  • Sunrise – The fruit are medium to large with sweet flavour. The skin ground colour is pale yellow with 50% red. The flesh is white to cream, and texture crisp and juicy. Storage potential is limited to about 3 weeks with a very short shelf life. The tree has moderate vigour and is very productive requiring crop load management. Tree support is important. Its cold hardiness and disease status is not known.
  • Trent2 – Red, medium to large in size. Flesh is firm, juicy, cream coloured with greenish tinge, and slightly coarse. Good storage. Prone to bitter pit.
  • William’s Pride2 – Moderately bright dark red on green-yellow or pale yellow background. Medium to large size, flesh is light cream, medium grained, mildly acid, very crisp and firm. Multiple pickings required. Short storage. Home garden use.

1 – Early maturing, red strains preferred e.g. Jonagored.
2 – Scab Resistant Cultivar. For more details refer to OMAFRA factsheet: Disease Resistant Apple Cultivars