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.
Next deliveries will be in spring 2022, but you can pre-order now.
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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.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Developed at the New York Agricultural Experiment station, Geneva. McIntosh x Red Delicious.