Empire apple trees

  • Picking season: Late
  • Uses: Eating fresh
  • Uses: Juice
  • Keeping (of fruit): 2-3 weeks
  • Gardening skill: Easy
  • Self-fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 3

Empire was developed in the 1940s as a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious and soon established itself as one of the top McIntosh-style apples.

As with most McIntosh crosses, the contribution of the other parent remains in the background, and Empire has all the usual McIntosh characteristics - crimson skin, bright white glistening flesh, and "that" flavor, the dessert-wine taste which is the hallmark of the McIntosh line. However Red Delicious can also be quite scented in its own right and many argue that Empire improves on the Mac in this respect.

Empire apple trees for sale

Mature height*
1-year Empire apple trees bare-root
M.7 rootstock
Medium (8ft-12ft) mature height

*Find out more about the apple rootstocks we use to control the mature height.

How to grow

As with many of the McIntosh offspring, Empire is a heavy producer and will readily set a large crop of small apples if you let it - thin the crop just after blossom is over to get fewer but larger apples and better flavor. Apart from that, there are few issues with Empire. Be on your guard for scab, to which it is susceptible, but it is generally problem-free.

Empire likes a climate with warm autumn sunshine and cool autumn nights, and may not achieve the right texture south of zone 7. Even so its range is better than McIntosh.

Historical details

Developed at the New York Agricultural Experiment station, Geneva. McIntosh x Red Delicious.

Empire characteristics


  • Picking season: Late
  • Uses: Eating fresh Juice
  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Keeping (of fruit): 2-3 weeks
  • Flavor quality: Very good
  • Flavor style (apples): Vinous
  • Discoloring: No discoloration (Good for drying)
  • Fruit persistence: Normal ripening


  • Gardening skill: Easy
  • Self-fertility: Partially self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 3
  • Pollinating others: Average
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average vigour
  • Bearing regularity: Regular
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer


  • Cedar apple rust: Some resistance
  • Fireblight: Some resistance
  • Mildew: Some resistance
  • Scab: Some susceptibility


  • Cold hardiness (USDA): (4) -30F / -34C
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Cool ( 20C - 24C / 68F - 75F) Warm (25C - 30C / 76F - 85F)


  • Country of origin: United States
  • Period of origin: 1900 - 1949
  • Fruit color: Crimson