Best Cold Hardy Apple Trees

If you live in an area with prolonged cold weather you may be wondering which are the best cold hardy apple trees. You’re in the right place! Although apple trees do need time in cold temperatures to produce fruit (between 800 and 1500 chill hours) temperatures that are too cold can also damage the tree. In fact, extremely cold weather (below -20° F) can freeze and kill the roots and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases through added stress and wounds. Over time though, researchers have developed cold hardy varieties to grow in the very cold parts of America (hardiness zones 3 and 4). Moreover, there are also great disease resistant varieties that you can choose from that produce delicious apples. Here is a list of the best cold hardy apple trees that we recommend. In fact, we recommend these because they are also disease resistant.

But first, want to learn more of the cold hardy apple varieties in a fun way? You can do so by finding the apple trees through this word search that can grow in USDA growing zones 3 and 4.

1. Empire Apple Tree

Cornell University developed this Empire apple tree in New York state (“The Empire State”) in the 1940s from its parents, Red Delicious and McIntosh. It is a McIntosh type apple with great disease resistance, better color and also flavor. The flesh is creamy white and crisp and makes a great dessert apple. You can keep it in storage for a long time or make cider with it as well. Similar to the McIntosh and Cortland apple trees, the natural home of Empire is the north-eastern United States. Moreover, this apple doesn’t bruise easily or discolor, making it perfect for you and your lunches. 

  • Growing Zones: 4-7
  • Disease Resistance:
    • Scab – Susceptible
    • Mildew – Susceptible
    • Fireblight – Some resistance
    • Cedar apple rust – Resistant
empire apple tree

2. Freedom Apple Tree

If you would like a disease resistant apple that is not only tartly delicious but also easy to grow then the Freedom apple tree is for you! It matures in late September to mid October and has a sweet-tart, juicy, and crisp taste. In fact, Robert Lamb form the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station developed Freedom so that it would be free from diseases. He used the following parents, Antonovka, Golden Delicious, Macoun, Malus floribunda, and Rome Beauty.

  • Growing Zones: 4-7
  • Disease Resistace:
    • Scab – Very resistant
    • Rust – Resistant
    • Fireblight – Some resistance
    • Mildew – Resistant
freedom apple tree

3. Enterprise Apple Tree

The Enterprise apple tree produces very delicious and a very disease resistant red apples that are easy to grow. Since Enterprise apples remain fresh for up to six months when kept at 1°C, they are the perfect apples to keep throughout the winter. Additionally, the flavor becomes even better when it’s kept in storage for about a month.

  • Growing Zones: 4-7
  • Disease Resistance
    • Scab – Very resistant
    • Mildew – Some resistance
    • Fireblight – Moderately resistant
    • Cedar apple rust – Resistant
enterprise apple tree

4. Liberty Apple Tree

If you would like a McIntosh style apple that is not only easy to grow, but also a favorite for making cider, then the Liberty apple tree is a great option. It matures in late September and has a sweet, juicy, and crisp taste. Moreover, the Liberty apple tree is very resistant to scab, cedar apple rust, mildew, and fireblight which means less work for you!

  • Growing Zones: 4-7
  • Disease Resistance:
    • Scab – Very resistant
    • Mildew – Some resistance
    • Fireblight – Some resistance
    • Cedar apple rust – Very resistant
how to grow a liberty apple tree

5. Pristine Apple Tree

Although not as cold hardy as some of the trees here, Pristine produces very great apples. For example, if you are craving some apple sauce or fragrant apple pie in the summertime, then you can make it with the Pristine apple. The tree matures in mid July, earlier than most apple trees, and has a tart and crisp taste. Moreover, the Pristine apple tree is very resistant to scab. In fact, the cooperative breeding program between Purdue, Rutgers and Illinois State Universities jointly developed about 50 apples resistant to scab of which Pristine was the 11th.

  • Growing Zones: 5-8
  • Disease Resistance:
    • Scab – Very resistant
    • Mildew – Some resistance
    • Fireblight – Resistant
    • Cedar apple rust – Some susceptibility
pristine apple tree

6. Honeycrisp Apple Tree

Honeycrisp apple tree has a honey sweet and crisp flavor created by the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center. In fact, they started to develop this apple tree in the early 1960s and introduced it in the 1990’s for its cold hardiness. Since then, it has become one of the most delicious cold hardy apple varieties! Moreover, the Honeycrisp apple tree has a mysterious and unclear parentage.

  • Growing Zones: 3-7
  • Disease Resistance:
    • Scab: Very resistant
    • Rust: Some susceptibility
    • Fireblight: Moderately resistant
    • Mildew: Some susceptibility
honeycrisp apple tree

7. Dolgo Apple Tree

Dolgo crabapple tree is an early blooming beautiful flowering variety and a good pollinator for other apple trees. In fact, you can make apple jellies, sauces, pies, butters and cider due to its crisp, juicy, sweet-sharp, and lightly bitter flavor. It is small in size and has a bright red crimson color skin with yellow flesh. Furthermore, Niels Ebbesen Hansen developed Dolgo at the South Dakota Experiment Station in 1987 as a seedling of Siberian Crab. The Siberian Crab is a stock he imported from Russia to the United States. Above all, this tree is resistant to scab, powdery mildew, cedar apple rust, and fireblight.

  • Growing Zones: 3-8
  • Disease Resistance:
    • Scab – very resistant
    • Rust – very resistant
    • Fireblight– moderately resistant
    • Mildew – very resistant
dolgo apple tree

Best Cold Hardy Apple Trees

My dad inspires me with his love for trees and his conviction that growing them is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and the ecosystem. That’s why he started to provide all types of trees so everyone could enjoy them accessibly and have the knowledge to grow them. Feel free to discover some of these cold hardy apple trees by growing them yourself!

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