Northern Spy is a traditional American winter apple, particularly well-suited to colder climate zones. The apples are quite large and have a handsome red-flush over a yellow-green background.
Rated by the 19th century pomologist Robert Hogg as "a valuable dessert apple".
Northern Spy ripens quite late in the season and will then keep in cold conditions well into the following spring without loss of quality. It is a versatile apple, with a good strong aromatic flavor, suitable for eating fresh or cooking with.
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Northern Spy has a reputation as a tough hardy heavy-cropping apple variety. However it is quite susceptible to many of the usual range of apple diseases, particularly mildew and fireblight. Northern Spy also takes its time to come into bearing, and when it does, it can over-crop and then fall into a biennial bearing habit. This can be avoided by preventing over-cropping in the "on" year. Don't let these issues put you off though, as Northern Spy's natural vigour helps it to grow through many of these difficulties, and on a dwarfing rootstock it should start bearing within 4 years.
One of the reasons that Northern Spy is so successful in colder zones is that it blossoms quite late. It helps if you have other late-flowering varieties nearby such as Ashmead's Kernel or Spitzenberg.
Advice on fruit tree pollination.
Originated in the early 1840s in New York state.
Northern Spy has been used in the development of many other apple varieties, and also in rootstock programs - the well-known English MM106 rootstock is derived from it.