Red Delicious (R) is one of the most popular and widely grown apple varieties in the world. It was developed by John Chapman in 1837 at the University of Wisconsin. R is named after John Chapman, who patented it in 1838. The name “red” comes from its deep crimson color when ripe, which resembles blood. Its flavor ranges from sweet to tart and juicy with a hint of spice.
The variety originated in New England and was first planted commercially in Ohio in 1845. By the early 1900’s, it had spread throughout much of the United States and Canada. Today, R is cultivated mainly in California, Washington State, Oregon and Idaho. The fruit ripens between September and November with good quality fruit being available until January or February depending on location.
Variety: Red Delicious
Type: Semi-dwarf, Early Season, Late Season, Grafted/Grown
Height: 3-5 feet tall; 2-3 feet wide; 10 inches long.
Flower Color: Golden yellow to orange with purple centers.
Fruit Size: Medium to large size.
Harvest Time: Mid winter through late spring.
The apple has a small leaf size, with an average width of 2.5 inches and a medium length of 3 to 4 inches. The fruit shape resembles that of a pixie hat urn. It has a grayish-white base color with red striping dye and a light pink undercoat.
The flesh is white with an occasional pink streak and is slightly crisp with a faint sweet flavor. It contains both vitamin A and C.
It is important to know the characteristics of Red Delicious. It has a high tendency to bruise while still on the tree, it is very susceptible to fireblight disease and it is also very susceptible to sunburn if not provided with adequate moisture throughout its growing period. It grows in most types of soil but does best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil on the loamy side. It does not grow well in swampy or water-logged soil.
It has a moderate resistance to apple scab but is susceptible to cedar apple rust, mildew and fireblight. It is also highly resistant to powdery mildew and somewhat resistant to woolly apple aphids. It is an early season variety that begins bearing fruit at about 2 years of age and continues for about 30 years.
Red Delicious requires little pruning. To reduce sprouting and encourage a better crop, heavy pruning should be done in the winter at or after the buds start to swell, but before leaves appear. Light summer pruning should be done while trees are dormant.
The Red Delicious apple is a bright red, elongated fruit and is one of the most popular apples in the United States. It has a sweet, crunchy texture that is said to be the perfect complement to peanut butter.
The Red Delicious originated in 1873 when it was found as a seedling on an Iowa farm. It was named the Wickson Delicious and would become the most popular apple of the 20th century. This apple variety was bred by Jesse Hiatt, who lived in Peru, Illinois. A tree still lives at the house where he lived and worked.
Jesse created the Red Delicious by accident in 1872 when a bees nest fell into a bunch of Yellow Bellflower and Arkansas Black Apple seeds he had planted and abandoned. He discovered the unexpected cross-pollination months later and found that the seeds had sprouted and produced fruit with deep red skins. Jesse Hiatt named the new variety the Hawkeye.
A nurseryman by the name of J.H. Harrison purchased these trees from Jesse in 1885 and gave them to his brother, O.M.
Harrison, who would become the biggest propagator of the Red Delicious and help to popularize it. The variety was renamed in 1898 to differentiate it from another apple variety with a similar name and also to honor its creator.
In the late 19th century, the Red Delicious was still relatively unknown. Jesse Hiatt sold these trees to nurserymen and they began to popularize it, but like most apples at the time, it was used mostly for cooking and cider rather than fresh eating. It wasn’t until the 20th century when the Red Delicious received wider attention.
In the early 1900s, there were very few varieties of apples that had been popularized. Most of these were of English origin and were used for cooking rather than eating fresh. The Red Delicious helped to greatly expand the market for apples in the United States and it became much more widely available by the 1920s. It was especially popular in the Western United States, where it helped to satisfy the national appetite for apples.
The Red Delicious was important in helping to popularize the idea of “branding” fruits and vegetables. At the turn of the century, many grocery stores were stocked with apples of various colors, sizes, and textures but few if any had any name attached to them. The Red Delicious helped to begin a trend of associating names with produce that helped give them an identity and made them more appealing to customers.
Jesse Hiatt sold the original tree to a Mr. Brown in Peru, Illinois in 1892 for $35 and it still lives there at the Gillett-Wallace Farm Museum. The tree is over 130 years old and is one of the oldest in existence.
The Red Delicious is vulnerable to apple scab, cedar apple rust, collar rot, powdery mildew, and fireblight. Possible diseases include brown rot and hollow heart. The Red Delicious is more susceptible to these problems when trees are stressed, such as from drought or overcrowding.
Due to the susceptibility of this variety to fireblight, the Red Delicious is often susceptible to cedar apple rust. It is recommended that if one notices cedar apple rust on their property that one immediately remove all affected trees as this will prevent further spreading of this disease.
Red Delicious is susceptible to a condition called hollow heart. In very wet or humid climates, the tree will produce apples that are solid on the outside but have an empty space in the center. In drier climate or on mature trees, the heart of the apple may be solid but the skin will be thin and easily broken, making it less appealing.
When growing the Red Delicious, it is essential that the trees have enough room to grow without overcrowding each other. This will prevent many diseases and pest problems from occurring.
Sources & references used in this article:
Some nutritional and microbiological aspects of apples of common varieties available for household consumption by A Mukhtar, AH Gilani, N Bhatty – J Anim Plant Sci, 2010 – thejaps.org.pk
Genetic diversity of red-fleshed apples (Malus) by S van Nocker, G Berry, J Najdowski, R Michelutti… – Euphytica, 2012 – Springer
Multiple repeats of a promoter segment causes transcription factor autoregulation in red apples by RV Espley, C Brendolise, D Chagné… – The Plant …, 2009 – Am Soc Plant Biol