23 Early Apple Varieties for Your Backyard Orchard

When deciding which apple trees you want to grow in your backyard orchard, make sure you include some early apple varieties.

No one wants to wait until fall to enjoy homegrown, fresh apples. Our family loves apples, and we’re slowly planning and growing our homestead orchard. I definitely want to grow some early apple varieties.

Adding more fruit trees to our homestead is part of our plan to grow more of our family’s food in our backyard. Not all apple trees ripen at the same time; that’s a good thing because I can’t imagine trying to preserve apples from 10 trees at the same time!

Related: The 9 Best Fruit Trees for Your Homestead

When you’re planning your backyard orchard, include apples that ripen in all seasons. Start with some early apple varieties that ripe between June and August. These apples tend to have lower storage abilities, but they taste great for pies, apple sauce, and apple butter.

Then, grow a few apple trees that ripen in mid-season from August to September, along with the late season apples in October and maybe November, depending on your region. These apples tend to have better storage abilities; you can store them in root cellars or basements for months at a time.

Here are some of the best early apple varieties to grow.

Related: 6 Easy Steps to Planning a Homestead Orchard

23 Early Apple Varieties

1. Akane Apples

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-9

🍎Ripening Time: Early to Mid-August

If you’ve ever tried Jonathan apples, you’ll love Akane apples; they’re quite similar. Akane apples, often called Tokyo Rose apples, have a solid, red color exterior with white flesh, and a mildly acidic flavor.

Most of the time, these apples are eaten fresh, but they stand up well to processing for apple sauce. Like many early apple varieties, Akane apples don’t store well, but they taste great when fresh!

Akane apple trees are a mid to late season flowering tree that produces a harvest in early to mid August. This is right between early and mid season, so it’s the perfect choice to round out all your early apple varieties before harvesting late season apples.

Akane apples are resistant to scab and powdery mildew, but unfortunately, they’re more susceptible to fire blight. Keep that in mind when picking what apples to grow.

2. Bevan’s Favorite

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-8

🍎Ripening Time: Late June to Early July

Bevan’s Favorite apples date back to 1859, known for being an all-around winning apple. The fruits are consistent with superb flavor and coloring, plus the trees are highly productive.

These trees produce small to medium-sized apples with yellow skin and red striping. The flesh is crisp and flavor, ripening in late June to early July.

Like many apples on this list, Bevan’s Favorite apples aren’t ideal for storage; you need to eat them fresh or use them in desserts like apple pies. They taste great fried – fried apples are delicious!

3. Carolina Red June

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-10

🍎Ripening Time: Late June to July

Originating before the 1800s, Carolina Red June apples began in – you guessed it – the Carolinas! These apples are known for being excellent cooking quality but also awesome for fresh eating.

Carolina June apple trees grow well in a variety of soil types, and the trees produce a harvest a bit later. The trees bear fruit over several weeks rather than all at once, making preserving and eating them easier.

Some say these apples are some of the best fresh eating early apple varieties that ripen before July. They’re small to medium sized with a bright, red skin and white, fine grained, juicy flesh.

4. Centennial Crabapple

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: Mid-August

Some people think that crabapples are ornamental not edible, but that’s wrong. These tiny fruits are very much edible, ideal for fresh eating and applesauce, but they have poor storage abilities.

Centennial Crabapple produces large, red to orange crabapples. This apple tree is quite hardy, growing well in USDA zone three. They ripen later than some of the other apples on this list, around mid-August, but that’s still an early ripening apple!

This crabapple tree is easy to grow and scab resistant, as well as slightly fire blight resistant. The fruits are medium to large, measuring around two inches in diameter. If you want a snacking crabapple that also works great for baking, apple butter, and sauce making, this is the one for you.

Related: Apple Butter Canning Recipe

5. Dorsett Golden

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 5-9

🍎Ripening Time: June to July

If you love Golden Delicious apples, then Dorsett Goldens will be at the top of your list of early apple varieties to grow. These apples have a yellow-colored exterior with a slight hint of red.

Dorsett Golden apples ripen in the early summer with a smooth, crisp texture and sweet-tart flavor. Since these apple trees only require 100 annual chill hours, they’re ideal for those who live somewhere with mild winters.

These apples are ready for harvest in June or July, so they’re the perfect early season apple. The fruits are medium to large and perfect for baking pies or eating fresh off the tree.

6. Early Harvest

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: July

Early Harvest apples are one of the best golden early apple varieties known for producing a dessert apple when fully ripe. These fruits are best used when slightly under-ripe; this is the best time to cook them in recipes and desserts.

The golden to green apples are ready to pick as early in July in some locations. The latest harvest you can expect out of these trees is September. Early Harvest apples have a creamy white, juicy, tart flesh that is perfect for baking or fresh eating.

These trees are fairly disease resistant, an important factor for many home orchardists. Expect medium-sized fruits that store for several weeks to months in cold storage.

7. Gala Apples

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-9

🍎Ripening Time: June to July

My kids love Gala apples, and they are one of the most popular early apple varieties. They’re sold in stores almost everywhere.

Interestingly, I recently learned that Gala apples are a newcomer on the apple scene; they developed in New Zealand in the 1930s.

Gala apples are red, semi-sweet with a yellow-white flesh, and a firm texture. The trees ripen from June to July and store well. These apples are ideal for fresh eating but taste great in recipes as well. Try using them for cooking or baking. If you’re looking for a versatile apple, Gala apples are a great choice.

8. Ginger Gold

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-8

🍎Ripening Time: July and Early August

Another newcomer that has taken the apple world and grocery stores by storm is Ginger Gold. You might find these apples in your local grocery store. They developed in the 1960s as a fresh-eating apple, but these fruits resist browning more so than other varieties.

Their resistance to browning and quick popularity made them an idea commercial apple. They ripen faster than Gala apples, and that’s a big deal for apple orchards. The trees are smaller than most varieties, so if you have a small backyard, these are excellent apple trees.

Ginger Gold apples ripen from July to early August in most areas. The fruits have a golden green skin color that taste wonderfully eaten fresh. They’re shaped like a cone with a waxy coating. Expect the fruits to have a tart, refreshing flavor with hints of sweetness.

9. Gravenstein

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-8

🍎Ripening Time: July to August

Gravenstein apples aren’t as well-known as other types, but they ripen in June and July. They’re a medium to large apple that has a greenish-yellow color and red stripes.

These apples are crisp and slight acidic – the perfect dessert apple – so they work great for apple pies, apple crisps, and apple sauce. However, the downside is that these apples don’t store or ship well, which is why you won’t find them in your local grocery store.

It’s believed that these apples originate from Denmark around the 1790s. It has a long history that proves these apples have amazing flavor when eaten fresh as well.

10. Jersey Mac

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 5-8

🍎Ripening Time: End of July to Early August

Jersey Mac apples are similar to Macintosh apples; the fruits are large, red, and sweet, perfect for cooking and fresh eating.

These apples originated in the 1970s in New Jersey by crossing different apple varieties with July Red apples

The biggest difference is that Jersey Mac apples don’t store as well as other varieties, so they’re rarely sold in stores. They only stay good for four to eight weeks, and while that sounds like a long time, some apple varieties store for four to six months in proper storage, like a root cellar!

Jersey Mac apple trees ripen at the end of July to the beginning of August.

11. Jonamac

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: July to August

As this name suggests, Jonamac apples are a combination of Jonathan and Macintosh, two of the most well-known apple varieties. Jonamac apples ripen throughout the summer, producing a fruit that is red and firm with an acidic flavor that works great for apple pies and applesauce.

Jonamac apples developed in the 1940s and appeared on the market officially in the 1970s. Since then, they have become one of the most sought after backyard fruit trees.

Everyone remarks that the flesh is incredibly juicy, melting in your mouth. It’s an aromatic apple that has a complex taste with hints of honey and berries.

12. July Red

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: June to July

These apples are newer on the market, originating in the 1960s in New Jersey. They’re created from William’s Pride apples, another excellent early apple variety that has been around for centuries.

July Red apples are one of the first apples to ripen in many areas, and they have a long ripening season. The apples ripen in a span of two to four weeks. As the season goes on, the apple quality tends to improve.

July Red apples vary in size, but they’re typically large with tender, coarse-grained flesh. The skin is a bright red, and they’re super juicy.

13. Lodi

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: July

If you’re looking for an easy fruit tree to grow in your backyard that produces delicious apples, Lodi is a great choice. These are medium-sized trees known to be cold-hardy. Lodi is a cross between Yellow Transparent and Montgomery; they taste like a Yellow Transparent but create larger fruits.

One thing to know about these fruits is that they don’t stay fresh for a long time. They freeze well and cook wonderfully; use these apples to make pies and applesauce.

Lodi apples ripen in July. Expect the fruits to have thin skin and a tart-sweet flavor.

14. Ozark Gold

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 5-10

🍎Ripening Time: August

Ozark Gold apples are similar to Golden Delicious with a firmer flesh and a unique, spicy-like flavor. These fruit trees produce medium to large fruits with yellow to orange-like skins.

One of the reasons Ozark Gold apples stand out is that they are super juicy and mild acidity; the flavor has a bit of honey to it. These are amazing for baking and a delicious dessert apple. Their flesh stands up well to canning as well!

These trees ripen over a period of three or more weeks, giving you time to use up the apples. They store for up to eight weeks, getting sweeter the longer they stay in storage.

15. Paula Red

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-9

🍎Ripening Time: August

Here’s another Mcintosh relative – Paula Red – it’s a cross between Yellow Transparent and McIntosh apples. These are a newer apple cultivar, starting in 1960s.

These apples ripen in the early summer, producing red apples with sweet, tart, white flesh. Paula Red apples have a crispy texture, but once cooked, they soften well. They’re ideal for applesauce, but I wouldn’t use them for apple pies.

Paula Red apples typically ripen in August, and they have poor storage abilities. However, their crisp, firm flesh is great for cooking, so get to canning and baking these apples once picked!

16. Pristine

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-9

🍎Ripening Time: Mid-July to August

Pristine apples are a gorgeous yellow color and known for being one of the best early yellow apple varieties. These fruits are ideal for fresh eating because of their delicious flavor. The trees are highly productive, and the fruits store better than other early apple varieties.

These firm, mildly tart apples are perfect for fresh eating, baking, or turning into applesauce. Best of all, Pristine trees are highly productive and produce large yields of apples!

Pristine apple trees are generally healthy and resistant to different diseases like apple scab, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, and fire blight.

17. Red Astrachan

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-9

🍎Ripening Time: August

Red Astrachan apples originate in Russia and came to the United States in the 1870s. Nowadays, it’s a popular apple variety in the southern states, commonly grown by gardeners and backyard orchardists.

The fruits have delicate yellow skin streaked with red, and the flesh is coarsely grained with subacid flavor, making them excellent cooking apples. The apples are medium sized and quite flavorful.

Red Astrachan apples are known for being some of the most flavorful apples; they taste fantastic when dried as well. You need to make sure that you pick the apples because these fruits are known for bursting their skin when over-ripe.

18. Summer Rambo

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-10

🍎Ripening Time: July

Summer Rambo is possibly the oldest apples on this list. The trees are known by many names, such as Summer Rambour and Rambour Franc. No matter what you call them, Summer Rambo is an old French cultivar that dates back as far as 1535.

Yes, you really read that right – 1535!

Summer Rambo apples are large with light ribbing and red-streaked, pale yellow skin. The fruits have a lightly sweet flavor with low acid and fine grained flesh, making it an amazing dessert apple. So, if you’re looking for apples to make delicious apple pies or apple crisps, Summer Rambo is a great option.

19. Summer Rose

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-9

🍎Ripening Time: July

Summer Rose apples are an old New Jersey apple that originates from the early 1800s. The trees bloom later than others, making them excellent choices for northern climate gardeners, but they also grow well in many southern states.

Summer Rose apples are attractive fruits with smooth, waxy, yellow skin that has streaks and blotches of red. The flesh is fine-grained, tender, juicy, and delicious! They’re similar to Early Harvest apples.

The fruits ripen gradually from early to middle of summer. You might also notice that the blooms appear o the tree late for an early harvest tree, but you can still expect a harvest around July

20. Vista Bella

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-9

🍎Ripening Time: End of July to Early August

Vista Bella apples ripen early in the summer, and they are delicious. These are small to medium, red apples with hints but taste great in pies and applesauce.

These apples began in the 1950s in New Jersey. They were grown commercially on a small scale for quite awhile, but over time, other cultivars became more popular.

Vista Bella apples ripen early in the season, around the end of July, and these fruits are best eaten as quickly after harvesting possible. While they store for a short period, they don’t have storage capabilities like late harvesting apples.

21. William’s Favorite

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-8

🍎Ripening Time: July

William’s Favorite originated in Massachusetts in the 1700s, but it’s now a beloved apple tree in the south. These are prized, early season apples that are conical in shape and medium to large in size.

The fruits are bright red that look beautiful on the trees. The flesh is low in acid, white, and juicy. Use William’s Favorite apples for cooking and fresh eating.

At first, you might think these apples are red delicious, but they’re brighter red and ripen earlier. Another difference is that William’s Favorite apples are resistant to fire blight.

22. William’s Pride

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 4-8

🍎Ripening Time: August

If you’re looking for crispy, yummy, summer apples, look no further than William’s Pride apples. These trees have longer ripening periods than other trees and store better than many of the other early apple varieties.

These are a very new apple cultivar on the market, introduced in 1988. Backyard orchardists love these apple trees because they’re resistant to many fruit tree diseases like fire blight, scab, and cedar apple rust.

William’s Pride apples stand out amongst other early apple varieties. They have dark, almost purplish skin that is visually appealing. The flesh is light but has a red stain because of the brightness of the flesh. The flavor is tart yet sweet, the perfect balance.

23. Yellow Transparent

🍎USDA Zones: Zones 3-8

🍎Ripening Time: July to August

I’m always interested in the history of plants, as I mentioned before, and Yellow Transparent interests me because the exact origins are unknown for this apple tree. It’s generally agreed that Yellow Transplant apple trees originated in Russia centuries ago.

Nowadays, these apples are quite popular in northern states like Maine, growing alongside country roads.

One thing to know about Yellow Transparent apples is that the season is prolific and super-short. The fruits ripen quickly and drop rapidly off the tree, so be ready to harvest them.

The skins are light yellow and thin; this is how these apples get their name. Yellow Transparent apples are tart but sweet, and they make excellent applesauce, apple butter, and pies. They don’t need too much sugar, but if you want to cook them, pick them when they’re slightly green.

Planning your backyard orchard takes time and consideration, especially when picking what fruit trees you want to grow. Make sure to include a few early apple varieties in your plans to spread out your harvest.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *