Northern Spy Apple Tree Overview
The Northern Spy apple tree is a very popular apple variety in upstate New York. In fact, it is so popular and well regarded that it was one of four apples the United States Postal Service selected to honor on 33¢ Apple Postcard stamps, which commemorated historic apple varieties. A description of the apple on the USPS website quotes “Spies are for pies” rhyme, indicating how good Northern Spy apples are for making delicious dessert pies! In addition to pies, this apple variety has versatile uses including being great for making juice and cider.
Origins of Northern Spy apple go back to the 1800s discovered near Rochester, New York. The Northern Spy came about from a failed experiment. When seeds brought from Connecticut failed to bear fruit, someone by the name of Roswell Humphrey nurtured these sprouts. Thus, the first Northern Spy apples came to be! Some believe Wagener apple to be the parent of Northern Spy.
Northern Spy apple trees are moderately vigorous and can take as long as 10 years to bear fruit. Although it is possible to shorten this time if you graft it to a non-standard rootstock. While not the best apple tree for withstanding common apple diseases, it is still a good choice of apple if you want an apple that keeps well in storage!
- Uses: eating fresh, cooking, juice, drying, pie
- Taste: sweet, sharp, aromatic
- Size: medium to large sized
- Color: red colored fruit, white to cream/ pale yellow flesh
- Hardiness Zones: 3-8
- Disease resistance:
- Scab – low resistance
- Rust – low resistance
- Mildew – low resistance
- Fireblight – moderately resistant
- Wooly aphids – very resistant
- Harvest period: 5, late season (late October onwards)
- Flowering Group: 5
- Cross pollinates with: Dabinett, Empire, Enterprise, Ginger Gold, Goldrush, Honeycrisp, Kingston Black, Pristine, Sansa, and Sundance to name a few!
- Cultivation: This apple tree is moderately vigorous. It is an upright bushy tree. Partial tip bearer. Note that it needs to be grafted to highly vigorous rootstock, otherwise it could take a long time (for example, over 10 years) to bear fruit. Produces moderate crops.
- Storage: Can keep up to six months.
- Ease of care: average
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