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Northern Spy apple tree

Northern spy

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.

Northern Spy apple trees for sale

  • 1Small 1-year bare-root tree $29.00
    Mature height: 6ft-9ft after 10 years
    G.41 rootstock
  • 2Medium 1-year bare-root tree $29.00
    Mature height: 8ft-12ft after 10 years
    G.222 rootstock
  • 3Large 1-year bare-root tree $32.00
    Mature height: 10ft-16ft after 10 years
    MM.111 rootstock

How to grow

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.

Historical details

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.

Northern Spy characteristics

  • Picking seasonVery late
  • UsesEating freshCulinaryJuiceTraditional cooker
  • CroppingHeavy
  • Keeping (of fruit)3 months or more
  • Flavor style (apples)Aromatic
  • Fruit persistenceNormal ripening
  • Gardening skillAverage
  • Self-fertilityNot self-fertile
  • Pollination group5
  • Pollinating othersAverage
  • PloidyDiploid
  • VigourVigorous
  • PrecocitySlow to start bearing
  • Bearing regularityBiennial tendency
  • Fruit bearingPartial tip-bearer
  • General resistancePoor
  • Cedar apple rustSome susceptibility
  • FireblightVery susceptible
  • Cold hardiness (USDA)(4) -30F / -34C
  • Summer average maximum temperaturesCool ( 20-24C / 68-75F)Warm (25-30C / 76-85F)Cold (< 20C / 67F)
  • Country of originUnited States
  • Period of origin1800 - 1849

Similar varieties

  • See also Novaspy
    Novaspy
    An improved form of Northern Spy, and an excellent all-round apple for northern areas.
  • See also Spigold
    Spigold
    A good-tasting cross between Northern Spy and Golden Delicious.