Gravenstein apple trees

Gravenstein
  • Picking season: Early
  • Keeping (of fruit): 1 week
  • Uses: Eating fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Uses: Traditional cooker
  • Uses: Dual purpose (eat + cook)
  • Gardening skill: Some needed
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 1

Gravenstein is a high-quality dual-purpose apple variety, originally from Europe, but well-established in North America. It can be grown in most US climate zones.

Gravenstein has never achieved great commercial success, but "Gravs" remain extremely popular with apple enthusiasts around the world. The flavor, both for eating fresh and (especially) for cooking is unusually good for such an early-season variety.

Like most early-season apples Gravenstein does not keep that well but, usefully, the apples tend to ripen individually over the course of a couple of weeks so you are not necessarily faced with a sudden glut. (This lengthy ripening time is one of the reasons Gravenstein is not successful as a commercial variety, but is a plus for the home orchardist).

Gravensteins have a distinctive flushed coloring, which begins in mid-August as a few streaks of red, and spreads to cover the whole apple by the end of the picking season in mid-September.

Gravenstein apple trees for sale

Item
Mature height
Price
Quantity
1-year Gravenstein apple trees bare-root
Small (6ft-9ft) mature height
$29.00
1-year Gravenstein apple trees bare-root
Medium (8ft-12ft) mature height
$29.00
1-year Gravenstein apple trees bare-root
Large (10ft-14ft) mature height
$29.00

We are between seasons at the moment. You can pre-order trees now for delivery when the new season starts (fall for warmer zones, or next spring), you won't be asked to pay until nearer the time.


How to grow

Gravenstein is sometimes regarded as an unreliable or difficult variety - but part of this is likely to be caused by poor pollination. There are two pollination-related issues to be aware of when growing Gravenstein. Firstly it is a triploid variety, so it will not pollinate other apple varieties. Secondly it flowers very early in the season, when not many other apple varieties are in flower to pollinate it. Therefore most of the reliability problems with Gravenstein can be resolved by making sure you have some other early-flowering apple trees (of different varieties) nearby. See our pollination checker for suggestions. Whilst we put Gravenstein in flowering group 1 to help ensure that other early-blooming varieties are listed against it in our pollination checker, it is worth noting that Gravenstein can flower over a long period and sometimes appears to have a second flush of blossoms later in the flowering season. Therefore perhaps the best advice is to plant a couple of good early/mid-season pollinators nearby - a crab-apple would be ideal.

Reflecting its triploid nature, Gravenstein trees tend to be quite large and long-lived.

Gravenstein can be susceptible to various apple diseases, although there is no obvious pattern and it does seem to be down to local conditions and climate. It appears to prefer cooler climates. It can be very susceptible to fireblight in those areas where it is prevalent.

In short Gravenstein is not the easiest apple to grow, but a lot of apple enthusiasts are prepared to keep trying because the flavor is so good! It is therefore not the best choice if it is to be your only source of garden apples, but if you already have other apple trees then Gravenstein is well worth taking a chance on.

Historical details

Thought to have originated in Denmark where it is the national apple, or possibly northern Italy. Undoubtedly a very old variety - 18th century or earlier.

Cooking with Gravensteins

Preparing Gravs for apple jelly

Here are some freshly-prepared "Gravs" ready for your favourite apple recipe. Head over to Figs with Bri where you can learn how to make Classic Apple Jelly with them.

Gravenstein characteristics

Using

  • Picking season: Early
  • Cropping: Good
  • Keeping (of fruit): 1 week
  • Fruit persistence: Normal ripening
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour style (apples): Sweet/Sharp
  • Uses: Eating fresh Cooking Traditional cooker Dual purpose (eat + cook)
  • Cooking result: Keeps shape
  • Discoloring: Very oxidising

Growing

  • Gardening skill: Some needed
  • Self-fertility: Not self-fertile
  • Pollination group: 1
  • Pollinating others: Poor
  • Ploidy: Triploid
  • Vigour: Vigorous
  • Precocity: Slow to start bearing
  • Bearing regularity: Biennial tendency

Problems

  • Disease resistance: Poor
  • Canker: Some susceptibility
  • Cedar apple rust: Very resistant
  • Fireblight: Very susceptible
  • Mildew: Some susceptibility
  • Scab: Some susceptibility

Climate

  • Cold hardiness (USDA): (5) -20F / -29C
  • Summer average maximum temperatures: Warm (25C - 30C / 76F - 85F) Hot (>30C / 86F)
  • Chill requirement: Low-chill

Identification

  • Country of origin: Denmark
  • Period of origin: 1750 - 1799