most disease resistant apple trees

What are the Most Disease Resistant Apple Trees?

In our years of growing apple trees, we have lost some to disease and it is truly a sad moment to say goodbye to something you’ve cared for for years. Therefore knowing what are the most disease resistant apple trees and growing them can make it easier for the trees to survive. There are some varieties of apple trees that are naturally resistant and some which breeders have developed. Here we have put together a list of the top 12 disease resistant apple trees to help your choosing process. After all, while spraying and maintaining a tree can help fight off diseases such as scab and cedar apple rust, at the end of the day growing a resistant variety may save you some heartache.

Top 12 Disease Resistant Apple Trees

1. 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 hard to beat. 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 growers.

Hardiness Zones – 4-7
ScabVery resistant
MildewSome resistance
FireblightSome resistance
Cedar apple rustVery resistant

Liberty apple tree

2. Freedom Apple Tree

These apples mature in late September to mid October and have a sweet-tart, juicy, and crisp taste. In fact, Robert Lamb form Cornell AgriTech developed Freedom so that it would be free from diseases. He used the following parents, Antonovka, Golden Delicious, Macoun, Malus floribunda, and Rome Beauty.

  • Hardiness Zones4-7
  • Scab – Very resistant
  • Mildew – Resistant
  • Fireblight – Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust – 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 the apples remain fresh for up to six months when kept at 1°C, they can keep throughout the winter. Notably, its parents include McIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Rome Beauty.

  • Hardiness Zones – 4-7
  • ScabVery resistant
  • MildewSome resistance
  • FireblightModerately resistant
  • Cedar apple rustResistant
Enterprise Apple Tree

4. Pristine Apple Tree

If you are craving some apple sauce or fragrant apple pie in the summertime, then the Pristine apple tree is the right choice. It 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 which will make your life much easier.

  • Hardiness Zones4-7
  • Scab – Very resistant
  • Mildew – Resistant
  • Fireblight – Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust – Resistant
pristine apple tree

5. Pixie Crunch Apple Tree

The Pixie Crunch apple tree is not only resistant to scab but it produces delicious, sweet and crispy apples. Moreover, these apples will be perfect for baking as well eating fresh since they are naturally sweet and become tender when heated. The breeding program between Purdue, Rutgers and Illinois State Universities jointly developed Pixie Crunch whose parents include Golden Delicious, Red Rome Beauty, Melba, Rome Beauty, Edgewood and Crandall.

  • Hardiness Zones5-8
  • ScabResistant
  • MildewSome susceptibility
  • FireblightSome susceptibility
  • Cedar apple rustVery susceptible
Pixie Crunch Apple Tree

6. Crimson® Topaz Apple Tree

The Crimson® Topaz apple tree is well known not only for being scab resistant, but also for bearing great dessert apples due to their juicy, sweet, spicy, and aromatic flavor. In fact, it is very popular because of its beautiful appearance and high quality as a fresh eating apple. It keeps well in storage for four months.

  • Hardiness Zones – 5-8
  • ScabResistant
  • Fireblight Somewhat susceptible
  • MildewSomewhat susceptible
crimson topaz

7. Goldrush Apple Tree

If you love the Golden Delicious apple but want to store the apples during the winter and not worry about diseases, then Goldrush apple tree is perfect. Not only does it produce heavy crops but it also has a bit more acidity and spicy flavors than Golden Delicious. It matures in November and you can store it for up to six months without losing its flavor. 

  • Hardiness Zones4-9
  • Scab – Very resistant
  • Mildew – Very resistant
  • Fireblight – Some resistance
  • Cedar apple rust – Some susceptibility
Goldrush Apple Tree

8. Redfree Apple Tree

Developed by the PRI apple breeding program, the Redfree apple tree is beautiful and easy to grow. It matures in August and has a firm crisp texture and mild flavor and acidity which makes it perfect for cooking.

  • Hardiness Zones – 4-8
  • ScabVery resistant
  • Mildew Some resistance
  • FireblightSome resistance
  • Cedar apple rustVery resistant

9. William’s Pride Apple Tree

If you would like to take a bite out of a crispy dark red apple in the summertime, then William’s Pride apple tree is perfect. It matures in July-August, earlier than most apple trees, and has a spicy and very crisp taste. It’s named after the prominent apple breeder, Edwin B. Williams, at the PRI breeding program. Because PRI developed it in the Midwest, it will also grow perfectly there.

  • Hardiness Zones: 4-8
  • Scab – Very resistant
  • MildewResistant
  • Bitter pitSome resistance
  • FireblightSome resistance
  • Cedar apple rustVery resistant
Williams Pride Apple Tree

10. Arkansas Black Apple Tree

Arkansas Black apple tree originated in Benton county, Arkansas, circa 1870. The skin is very unique dark red to black and it is moderately juicy, crisp, firm, and aromatic. The fruit ripens in late October and it stores about four months in cold storage.

  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8
  • ScabModerately susceptible
  • MildewResistant
  • FireblightResistant
  • Cedar apple rustVery resistant
Arkansas Black Apple Tree

11. Querina Florina Apple Tree

Querina™ Florina, a.k.a. Querina™, was developed at INRA Angers, France with parents that include Golden Delicious, Rome, and Jonathan. The fruit is firm and juicy with a sweet-tart flavor. Moreover, many cider-makers include these apples in cider blends. It harvests two to three weeks after Golden Delicious and will keep for up to two to three months in storage.

  • Hardiness Zones: 5-8
  • FireblightResistant
  • Powdery MildewResistant
  • Apple Scab Very Resistant
  • Cedar-Apple RustSusceptible
Florina Querina Apple Tree

12. Sundance™ Apple Tree

The Sundance apple tree, sometimes known as Sundancer, is well known for its resistance to scab and its rich, pineapple/lemon flavored apples. Not only does it produce large crispy fruit, but they also keep well in storage for up to seven months!

  • Hardiness Zones: 5 – 9
  • ScabVery resistant
  • Rust Resistant
  • Fireblight Resistant
  • MildewSomewhat resistant
Sundance Apple Tree

Common Diseases for Apple Trees

Apple Scab

  • Apple scab is a fungal disease affecting apple trees that causes olive-green to black spots on the fruit and leaves. When the leaves are infected they become dwarfed, curled and drop prematurely. This leaf loss, especially when it happens over many seasons, can significantly weaken the tree. If the fruits get infected in the early season, they can get deformed and drop early in June. Moreover, unlike apples affected by sooty blotch, you usually can’t eat scabby apples.
  • Causes: During the winter, apple scab can survive in the dead apple leaves on the ground. Then in the spring, these fungi shoot spores into the air which the wind carries to the growing leaves, flowers, and fruit. In order to start new infections, the spores have to have a couple hours of moisture. Afterwards, the infections grow into spots which produce more spores.
  • Recommendations:
    • Firstly, you can choose scab resistant varieties such as Freedom, Liberty, Prima, Jonafree, GoldRush, and MacFree.
    • Secondly, remove fallen leaves from under the tree. If you control it in the early season, consequently it will be much easier to control in the summer.
    • Spraying is also an option.
Identifying Pests and Diseases

What is Powdery Mildew?

  • Powdery mildew affects all fruit trees and is a fungal disease that shows up on the leaves of trees as white, powdery mold.
  • Causes: The fungi overwinter in the dormant buds during the winter. Then during the spring, they spread onto the flowers, leaves, and fruit. However this fungi doesn’t overwinter in pear tree buds. However pear trees can get the fungi from nearby apple trees. Moreover, really cold winter temperatures can kill the infected buds since they are more susceptible to winter injury than healthy buds. The infection which will cause the fruit to russet can occur from about 3 weeks before bloom to 3 weeks after bloom.
  • Recommendations:
    • Firstly, plant and prune in a way so that the trees and branches aren’t overcrowded. Then prune out the areas and branches with white fungus.
    • If you know that powdery mildew occurs in your area, then do not plant susceptible apple varieties such as Idared, Monroe, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, Paulared, Gingergold, or Cortland.
powdery mildew


  • Fireblight affects mostly apple and pear trees, in addition to some other fruit trees. The tree’s branches will not only blacken but also droop rapidly as if scorched by fire (hence the name fireblight). Additionally, the bark at the base of infected twigs will become water soaked, then dark, sunken and dry, with cracks developing at the edge of the sunken area. Other signs include wilted shoots, well-defined areas of burnt-looking, dead foliage or bark, and sticky amber ooze.
  • Causes: The damage mostly happens during warm, rainy spring weather. Before this time, the fireblight bacteria overwinter between live bark tissue and the tissue killed the previous season. Additionally, the bacteria can enter through openings such as flowers and wounds in the spring. Then rain, wind, and pruning tools can spread the disease to other plants. Finally, in the spring, the bacteria ooze out of the cankers and attract bees and other insects which also spread the disease.
  • Recommendations:
    • Firstly, do not grow your fruit trees on poorly drained, highly acidic, or overfertilized soils.
    • Secondly, if you see infected twigs, cut them off in the early spring at least 8 inches below the damaged area.
    • Additionally, if you prune in the summer, disinfect your pruning tools with denatured alcohol or a 10 percent bleach solution between each cut.
    • Resistant apple varieties include Enterprise, Freedom, Liberty, Prima, Priscilla, Adams, Dolgo, Jewelberry, and Liset. Susceptible apple varieties include Idared, Jonagold, Jonathan, Lodi, Crispin (Mutsu), Greening, Paulared, Rome, Sir Prize, Spigold, Twenty Ounce, York and Gala.

What is Cedar Apple Rust?

  • Cedar apple rust is a disease which leaves red-black spots on the leaves of apple trees and visible spores on their undersides. This disease can cause damage to the leaves and fruit of very susceptible apple varieties, but is only a minor problem on resistant or partially resistant trees.
  • Causes: This disease requires two hosts in order to complete its life cycle, an apple tree and an eastern red cedar tree. In fact, it survives the winter in galls on the cedar trees. Then with the rains in the spring hornlike extrusions emerge and release spores. In fact, with the wind, these spores can travel to nearby apple trees and cause orange spots on the leaves. Then 1-2 months later, the fungi can grow to on the undersides of the leaves and on the fruit. Moreover, the fruit will be infected when it is moist and the temperature ranges between 46 degrees F and 75 degrees F. Afterwards, the spores from the apple trees will be released in the summer and infect the leaves of the cedar trees.
  • Recommendations:
    • Firstly, either remove nearby eastern red cedar and juniper trees within a few hundred yards of the apple trees or do not plant the apple trees nearby.
    • You can plant disease resistant varieties such as Delicious, Liberty, Nova Easygro, Novamac, and Tydeman. However varieties that are susceptible include Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Lodi, Prima, Rome, Twenty Ounce, and York

cedar apple rust

Knowing what are the most disease resistant apple trees will help you grow the trees that are most likely to survive. If you would like to discover other disease resistant apple trees, explore our tree catalog or shop page.
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