McIntosh Apple Tree Info: Tips For Growing McIntosh Apples


If you’re looking for an apple variety that thrives in cold climates, try growing McIntosh apples. They are excellent either eaten fresh or made into delicious applesauce. Interested in learning how to grow McIntosh apples? The following article contains McIntosh apple tree info, including McIntosh apple care.

McIntosh Apple Tree Info

McIntosh apple trees were discovered by John McIntosh in 1811, purely by chance when he was clearing land on his farm. The apple was given the family name of McIntosh. Although no one knows exactly what cultivar is the parent to McIntosh apple trees, the similar flavor suggests Fameuse, or Snow apple.

This unexpected discovery became integral to apple production throughout Canada, as well as the Midwest and Northeast United States. McIntosh is hardy to USDA zone 4, and are the designated apple of Canada.

Apple employee Jef Raskin, named the Macintosh computer after the McIntosh apple but deliberately misspelled the name.

About Growing McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples are bright red with a blush of green. The percentage of green to red skin depends on when the apple is harvested. The earlier the fruit is harvested, the greener the skin will be and vice versa for late harvested apples. Also, the later the apples are harvested, the sweeter they will be. McIntosh apples are exceptionally crisp and juicy with bright white flesh. At harvest, the flavor of McIntosh is quite tart but the taste mellows during cold storage.

McIntosh apple trees grow at a moderate rate and at maturity will attain heights of around 15 feet (4.5 m). They bloom in early to mid-May with a profusion of white blossoms. The resulting fruit ripens by mid to late September.

How to Grow McIntosh Apples

McIntosh apples should be situated in full sun with well-draining soil. Prior to planting the tree, soak the roots in water for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, dig a hole that is twice the diameter of the tree and 2 feet (60 cm.) deep. After the tree has soaked for 24 hours, check the depth of the hole by placing the tree inside. Make sure that the tree graft will not be covered by soil.

Gently spread out the tree roots and begin filling in the hole. When 2/3 of the hole is filled, tamp the soil down to remove any air pockets. Water the tree and then continue filling in the hole. When the hole is filled, tamp down the soil.

In a 3-foot (just under a meter) circle, lay a good layer of mulch around the tree to retard weeds and retain moisture. Be sure to keep the mulch away from the tree trunk.

McIntosh Apple Care

To produce fruit, the apples need to be cross-pollinated with a different apple variety of a crabapple.

Young apple trees should be pruned to create a strong framework. Prune scaffold branches by trimming them back. This hardy tree is relatively low maintenance once established. Like all fruit trees, it should be pruned out each year to remove any dead, damaged or diseases limbs.

Fertilize newly planted and young McIntosh trees three times per year. One month after planting a new tree, fertilize with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Fertilize again in May and again in June. In the second year of the tree’s life, fertilize the tree in the early spring and then again in April, May, and June with nitrogen fertilizer such as 21-0-0.

Water the apple deeply twice a week when the weather is dry.

Inspect the tree every so often for any signs of disease or insects.


The Tree Center

An apple tree is often the first fruit tree you choose to plant in your garden. Apples are easy to grow, produce a large crop and because they can be stored there is very little waste even from a huge harvest. As well, everyone loves apples and they are so versatile. They can be eaten fresh from the hand or in salads, baked into pies, turned into sauces or used in both sweet and savory dishes. You probably already buy lots of apples and if you could have your own tree the savings can be significant.

Apples are especially useful if you live in colder parts of the country, since they are the hardiest of all the fruit trees. The McIntosh is an ideal choice for colder regions as it is hardy into zone 4, so it will grow in the coldest parts of the country. It actually grows better in colder regions and the fruit will be especially crisp and crunchy.


What is a McIntosh Apple?

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The McIntosh apple is a type of apple grown in the northern U.S. and Canada. It was named after John McIntosh, who found the seedling on his farm in Ontario, Canada, in 1811. McIntosh apples are noted for their smooth, red skin that is often sparked with bright green patches. The inside flesh is juicy and firm, white in color and sometimes tinged with streaks of pink.

McIntosh apples are a popular eating apple due to their sweet, not too tart flavor. They break down easily in cooking to make applesauce that is slightly pink in color, and are a popular choice for making cider and pies as well. McIntosh apples are considered to be easier to eat than harder varieties, such as the Red Delicious or Granny Smith.

McIntosh apples provide 5g of dietary fiber, 22g of carbohydrates, Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin A, calcium, iron, and have zero cholesterol. To choose a good McIntosh apple, place it in the palm of the hand without squeezing the fruit. It should feel solid and substantial, not soft and light. If the thumb is rubbed lightly over the apple, the skin should not wrinkle or pucker but remain smooth and tight.

In 1888, the Agricultural Experiment Station in Burlington, Vermont, in the U.S., began to plant McIntosh apple trees. Through years of study and experimentation with the trees, the McIntosh was perfected and is now known as a hardy and dependable variety of apple tree. When John McIntosh’s first tree fell in 1910, enough McIntosh trees had been cultivated for the species to be well established.

The McIntosh apple grows best in a temperate climate. This means that the temperatures are normally above freezing during spring blossom time, warmer during the summer growing season, and getting cooler — while still not low enough to cause frost — during their ripening and picking season. McIntosh apples ripen mid-season, in mid-to-late September.

Although McIntosh apples are plentiful in stores and orchards, they are a good variety for backyard growing as well. McIntosh apple trees are best grown from seedlings rather than seeds, and should be cross-pollinated by planting another variety of apple tree nearby. For each tree, dig a hole 2 feet (60.96 cm) deep and twice as wide as the tree. Spread out the roots and loosen the dirt on the sides of the hole to allow the roots to grow easily. Place the tree in the hole, cover the roots with dirt, tamp down the dirt to eliminate air holes, and water thoroughly add more dirt up to the top of the hole, water it again, and mulch with shredded bark.


The Beginner’s Guide to Fruit Trees in Colorado

As a homeowner, you take great pleasure in caring for your yard. And after many years of pruning shrubs and mowing the lawn, you’ve decided to take the next step: planting fruit trees.

Fruit trees don’t only beautify your property-they also produce delicious fruit throughout the year for your family to sell or enjoy. However, if you’ve never grown fruit trees before, you might not know just where to start.

In our blog below, we’ll overview common fruit tree varieties that first-time growers will love. If you have any questions by the time you finish reading, your local arborist will more than happily answer them.

Common Colorado Fruit Trees

If you garden at Colorado’s high altitudes, you already understand some of the key challenges to your fruit trees’ growth. For instance, you’ll want to choose hardy, sturdy trees that can last with thinner air, brighter sunlight, and fluctuating mountain temperatures all year long.

Fortunately, most fruit trees prefer bright, full sun to grow. And with the exception of peach trees, the fruit trees below can endure temperatures of up to negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Read on to learn about common varieties of popular Colorado fruit trees:

Apple Trees

Colorado gardeners can grow a variety of hardy apple trees. If you choose to grow apple trees, though, you should know about fire blight, a bacterium that destroys certain apple and pear varieties. Talk to your arborist about fire blight control possibilities and choose your favorite taste from the ones below:

  • Golden Delicious: A popular fall apple with a crisp taste. This type of apple tree bears fruit earlier than most.
  • Jonathan: A crisp, medium-sized apple with a good balance between tart and sweet. Jonathan apples are more susceptible to fire blight than many other varieties.
  • McIntosh: An all-purpose red apple with smooth red skin and a sweet taste.

Cherry Trees

Tart cherry trees can do quite well in Colorado gardens. Sweet cherry trees can flourish occasionally, especially in the western part of the state, but if you plant sweet cherry trees, know that you’ll likely lose one or two every few years. And when you plant cherry trees, look out for destructive pests like cherry slugs and peach tree borers.

Your cherry tree options include:

  • North Star: A bold, red cherry with a sour flavor. Most gardeners use North Star cherries for pies, tarts, and other desserts.
  • Stella: A self-pollinating cherry tree that can outlast Colorado’s winters.

Peach Trees

Because of their susceptibility to frost, peach trees don’t endure Colorado conditions as well as apple or cherry trees. They flower early in the year, which can present problems in a long winter or in fluctuating spring temperatures. However, if you have a warmer winter or can overcome early frost challenges, your difficult tree will yield a delicious reward.

Many gardeners choose peach trees from these varieties:

  • Elberta: The most popular peach variety, especially for commercial growers. These trees are relatively hardy and often survive Colorado’s winters with good care.
  • Reliance: The hardiest peach tree variety. These trees can grow as far north as Canada, which makes them a good choice for Colorado growers.

If you want an easy tree with delicious fruit, choose plum trees. American varieties flourish in Colorado’s notoriously fickle conditions and endure the cold winters well. Your options include:

  • Blue Damson: A self-pollinating, early-blossoming plum with a succulent flavor.
  • Mount Royal: A purple plum that bears fruit starting in the middle of August.
  • Waneta: A Japanese-American cross that has flourished in Colorado since the early 1900s. These trees produce dependable fruit year after year-so much fruit that you’ll have to watch the branches and thin as needed.

In many cases, beginning gardeners have an easier time taking care of shrubs over trees. Plus, shrubs often handle Colorado’s fluctuating temperatures better than species like peaches. You can also grow shrubs like the following in poorer soil than you can do with the trees above.

If you don’t want to try your hand at fruit trees quite yet, or if you want to complement your fruit trees with some tasty shrub fruits, try one of the following plants:

  • Currants: While you can occasionally coax Alpine or Golden currants to grow in Colorado weather, Red Lake shrubs have the highest chance of success. Plus, the berries are sweet enough that you can eat them without cooking.
  • Gooseberries: The Invicta variety produces large berries that you can pick and eat right off the branch. The Welcome gooseberry variety also produces large berries with few thorns.
  • Jostaberries: This recent, complex cross mixes black currants with gooseberries. You might have a harder time tracking it down (try mail-order catalogues or ask a local nursery), but if you can find the plant, you’ll enjoy tasty, rich, full berries.

Talk to Your Arborist

Now that you know which fruit trees to choose from, talk to your local arborist. He or she can help you make decisions about which trees to plant and give you area-specific advice on how to care for them.


Watch the video: UMass Fruit Advisor: USAs oldest McIntosh apple tree


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