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Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Posted by megamav 5a - NY (My Page) on
Tue, May 8, 12 at 16:03

Does anyone have this list?
Im curious to see the varieties on it.

About him:

Professor of Pomology at New York State Agricultural Experiment station, where exists perhaps the most extensive apple variety collection in the United States.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Roger's been retired for over 20 years. Never saw the list.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

I've never seen it. Here as consolation prize are three lists I have seen, from Tom Burford, Ed Fackler, and Tom Vorbeck.


Tom Burford:

American Beauty
Blue Pearmain
Cox's Orange Pippin
Esopus Spitzenburg
Grimes Golden
Kidd's Orange Red
Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin
Pitmaston Pineapple
Ribston Pippin
Summer Rambo
Virginia Beauty
White Winter Pearmain
Winesap (old)
Yellow Bellflower
Zabergau Reinette

Ed Fackler:

1. Sweet 16 - expensive bourbon with a shot of vanilla! Much easier to grow up north.
2. Spigold - Complex, intense and very juicy (difficult to grow because of its Spy habits).
3. Suncrisp - Intense "cox" flavor with more sugars.
4. Freyberg - Banana-like with a touch of overripe raspberry.
5. Hokuto - While subject to season (requires much sun late), it is a mix of Mutsu acids with Fuji sugars.
6. GoldRush - Battery acid off the tree---heavenly at Christmas and keeps through May if stored in plastic.
7. Braeburn - Murder to grow (sus. to every apple problem), but possesses enough complex acids to make it great.
8. Jonagold - For the new-to-the-game (of apple flavors), it is a very pleasing mix of dead-ripe Jonathan and sugars of Golden. Easy to eat.
9. Rubinette - A sweeter, milder (and juicier) version of Suncrisp, but ripens some 2 weeks earlier.
10. Newtown - (Not to eat prior to Jan. 1) At this time, it is simply great, many subtle complexities.
11. ArkCharm - Great for about 17.5 mins. off the tree (no storage). Rich and easy to eat.
12. Orin - Wonderful in some (hot) seasons, bland in others. A mild pineapple-like flavor in most years.
13. Shizuka - A sweeter and juicier version of Mutsu which ripens about 10 da. prior.
14. NovaSpy - Great complexity (which slight vanilla-bourbon) and easier to grow than most Spy sibs.
15. Sundowner - The highest flavored of the new "Austrailian" group which can only be grown near the equator (due to extremely late ripening)!
16. Honeycrisp - For those who equate flavor with its wonderful texture.
17. Fuji - See descrip. of Honeycrisp.
18. Hudson's Gold Gem - When properly picked, it compares to really great european pear (Collette, Magness, etc.). Difficult to grow due to shy production and fruit cracking.
19. Melrose - When starved for n., it is one of the finest tart apples I've eaten, otherwise not much.
20. Keepsake - Very shy, but flavor is great on the one apple you get every five years or so!

Tom Vorbeck / Applesource:

(1st column is his ranking)


11 Sansa (-5) An early Gala-type, low vigor
9 Mollie's Delicious (-4) Large, crisp, sweet (does best on dwarf trees)
2 Gala (-3.5) Best very sweet early fall apple
3 Honey Crisp (-2) Very crisp, large, hardy
6 Jonagold (-1) World's best, but short storage-life, frost-tender
5 Red Delicious (0) The standard red sweet apple (avoid Starkrimson strain)
10 Creston (-1) Resembles Jonagold; crisper but uglier; (Untested)
4 Golden Delicious (+1) The standard yellow sweet apple
8 Mutsu (+2) Greenish yellow, cocktail of flavors, frost tender
12 Golden Russet (+3) Medium-sized, antique russet with a dense sugary flesh
13 Orin (+3) Crisp, greenish-yellow, aromatic; #3 in Japan
7 Cameo (+3) Poorly colored, best Red Delicious type (Untested)
1 Fuji (+4) Best keeping sweet apple in the world


4 Swiss Gourmet (-3.5) Best texture, mostly red, some russet, frost tender
7 Jonalicious (-1.5) Crisp, juicy, somewhat sour; growth problems
5 Rubinette (-1) Golden x Cox, a "best" Cox-like flavor
3 Melrose (+1.5) Jonathan x Delicious, excellent pies & caramel apples
6 Spigold (+2) Spy x Golden, huge and wonderful; growth problems
8 Suncrisp (+2.5) Large, yellow, intense, (Cortland x Cox) x G.D.
2 Braeburn (+3) Best texture and flavor, moderate keeper
1 Goldrush (+3.5) Scab resistant, intense, Fuji class keeper, reliable


14 Yellow Transparent (-10) July sauce apple, "smoother" sauce than Lodi
13 Lodi (-10) July sauce, large apples
9 Monark (-7) Large, crisp, pies and tarts; preharvest drop problems
10 Gravenstein (-5.5) The standard late summer cooker
2 Akane (-5) An early Jonathan-type
1 Jonathan (-2) Standard Midwest cooking apple
8 Ashmead's Kernel (-1) Ugly russet; intense; frost tender
6 Liberty (-1) Scab resistant McIntosh-type
12 Calville Blanc (+2) Classic French cooker
3 Idared (+2) Best keeping Jonathan type
7 Esopus Spitzenberg (+2) Highest ranked sour apple at most apple tastings, short lived
16 Northern Spy (+2) Premium processing cultivar; a best antique
5 Stayman Winesap (+3) Best of the Winesaps; cracking problems
4 Newtown Pippin (+4) Light green, medium-sized, best quality in December
11 Arkansas Black (+4) Gorgeous, hard, keeper, Winesap-type
15 Granny Smith (+6) Large green keeper; barely matures here

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Thanks Harvestman.

I may have found the next best thing if the list isnt out there.

Germplasm Resources Information Network has a database that has a lot of Roger's scion and fruit notes in it.

Not thrilled about his assessment of Orleans Reinette. LOL.
To each his own, props to Roger for putting it all on paper.

USDA ARS Database


RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Gosh, I always feel that I've chosen poorly! The only apple I have on all three lists is Jonagold. Ugh, Mrs. G

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Dont feel bad MrsG.
Taste lists are subjective.
Everyone likes something different, and have preferences.

If you like smooth texture with a sweet, honeyed flavor, slightly juicy, you'll like it. Very much like Golden Delicious in my opinion with some extra spicy flavors.

I didnt think it was phenomenal, to each his/her own. :)


Thanks for that list, I've seen it scattered around the forum, but never combined. I think I'll add it to my blog for reference. Thanks man!


RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Believe me, all people who get the chance to eat a wide variety of apples off the tree will come up with a different list. What you also need to know about is consistency- especially in your region. For example, I've gotten high quality Braeberns from my tree only one season. As Ed notes, it's difficult to grow for him in Indiana and I haven't had much success with it here in the northeast.

We should put together a list of favorite, dependable apples. I would start with Goldrush.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples


I think if we're to come up with a list, we should include some information thats more identifiable, like zone and harvest season for your zone, i.e. Mid-October.
Like you said, dependable favorites somewhere may not be a favorite elsewhere.

Jonamac - 5a - Late September
Grows well here in Capital District, NY
Rarely is it not available each year.
Let me start a new thread, so the title gets attention.


RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

I've got eight on those lists and have tried that many more. But it's a real crap shoot as to how they will perform down here as compared to wherever those list originate.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Well okay. How about some mild climate, low chill selections:
Anna - a great "beginner's" apple. Crisp, sweet with a hint of spicy tartness. Prolific and disease resistant. And, you'll get 1 crops if you're in a mild enough climate.
Dorsett Golden - an outstanding apple. Early like Anna. Firm sweet and our alternative to Golden Delicious for low chill areas, only it's better.
Pink Lady (Cripps) - a late low chill. Very distinct. Spicy a a wee bit tart but even I like it (the queen of sweet). Good option to extend your apple harvest for us in Calif.
Fuji and Red Fuji - Nuff said about this apple, we all know how good it is. I think the red sport tastes a bit more interesting. And they keep really well in the fridge.

That's my list. I'd add Eishemer but I'd probably get booed off the forum by my Calif. apple growers. I happen to like them. They're small, crisp and spicy. But I know they're not a favorite of many.

Patty S.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

The fact there is so little overlap between the lists also says a lot about varied tastes. There are also a ton of varieties and who has time to experiment with them all.

Just for fun I went through my notes and came up with my favorites to see how much overlap I had with the above. Here they are, in roughly ranked order:

1) Freyburg
2) Gold Rush
3) Kidds Orange Red
4) Abbondanza
5) Wickson (but, cracks too much in my climate)
6) Reine des Reinettes
7) Nonpareil
8) Bonne Hotture
9) Hawaii
10) Swayzie
11) Newtown Pippin
12) Golden Nugget (not sure, may have name wrong)
13) Ashmead's Kernel
14) Mother
15) Rusty Coat
16) White Winter Pearmain
17) Maigold
18) Ribston Pippin
19) Myers Royal Limbertwig
20) Pink Lady

It looks like 8 of mine are on one of the lists above, thats actually more overlap than I expected.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Tue, May 8, 12 at 23:41

I've got 3, 4, and 5 overlaps with the lists. Of my varieties, only Honeycrisp and Goldrush appear on more than one list.

All were planted last year (4 on the list) or this year (the other 6), so I haven't had a chance to taste any from my trees yet. Most which were planted last year have set enough that even after thinning I think I'll be able to get 5-7 apples per tree.

The Sweet 16 was a bit strange in that it was one of just two which bloomed last year when I first planted it, yet now it had one of the lightest blooms- just one bunch of flowers, even though the tree is one of the largest.

Kidd's Orange Red
Pitmaston Pineapple

Sweet 16
Hudson's Gold Gem

Honey Crisp
Ashmead's Kernel

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Thanks for the list Scott
Burford None

Sweet 16

Red Delicious
Yellow Delicious
Ashmead's Kernel
Granny Smith

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Here I manage only one Sweet 16 and it's taken forever to come into bearing on 111. Finally tasted it last year and to me it tasted like it was infused with artificial flavor. It tasted different alright, disturbingly so. I have never had that experience with another apple.

This year it is fruiting on only one branch. This is not a grower friendly apple, at least not when young.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Patty my Anna is excellent but the Golden Dorsett is just not that good. I wonder if it is a difference in like the humidity between your location and mine? On my tree it is hard to pick it just right with a ripe window of about an hour. :) If I could find a replacement pollinator for the Anna the Golden Dorsett would be out


RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

That made me so happy to see Pink Lady and Sundowner on some of those lists.
I worked with John Cripps on the apple breeding at Stoneville Research Station.
I remember choosing 10/138 (Pink Lady) and 9/90 (Sundowner) from the breeding block (With John)

I thought Sundowner was the superior apple, however Pink Lady seemed to get all the promotion.

If you ever get the chance to eat a Sundowner that has been grown in the right district and picked right (much later than anyone picks them)You have eaten the pure essence of apple flavour, brilliant texture and the perfect sugar acid balance.
the trees crop well and the colour is magnificent.

But very few people are going to have that experience.

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Wed, May 9, 12 at 23:59

That's interesting to hear Harvestman. I wonder it is too warm in our area, per Ed Fackler's "Much easier to grow up north" comment. It was definitely warmer than usual this winter and both the one you manage and mine had weak blooms (1 branch each).

Mine actually had much more last year when I had just stuck it in the ground (from Cummins). Since I was just getting started, there wasn't much to pollinate it (just one cluster on a Priscilla- I'm not sure the timing matched), so no fruit set. The description from Cummins says "Cherry twizzler" flavor, so that matches up pretty well with the artificial taste you encountered. I happen to like twizzlers though, so I'm looking forward to it. :)

RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

I have to say a plug for Pink Lady. I love that apple and wish I could grow it where I am. I seem to recall it needs a long growing season, which I do not have. If sundowner is better.. WOW. I will look for that apple and see if I can at least buy it if not plant it.


RE: Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Found it!

This is his list of twenty in the approximate order of taste preference:

Golden Delicious
Esopus Spitzenburg
N.Y. 45500-5 (McIntosh x Delicious)
N.Y. 43013-1 (Golden Delicious x Jonathan)
Yellow Newtown
Northern Spy
Red Melba
Cox Orange
Golden Russet
Orleans Reinette
Tydeman Early
Tompkins King
Kidds Orange Red

Note: This list is from 1966


Here is a link that might be useful: PubHort Reference

RE Dr. Roger D. Way's List of Top 20 Dessert Apples

Notes from list above:

N.Y. 45500-5 is Empire
N.Y. 43013-1 is Jonagold


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