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Prairie Spy apple

Prairie Spy is one of the earliest apple varieties developed by the University of Minnesota.  It was selected in 1923 from seeds planted in 1914, and introduced commercially in 1940. It was known as Minnesota 1007 during its development period.

The parentage of Prairie Spy is not certain, but the name, and its growth characteristics and fruit appearance suggest it is probably a seedling of Northern Spy - but this is not certain.

At this time the University's main focus was the introduction of cold-hardy varieties and Prairie Spy is well-known for its ability to survive in zone 4 winters. However it performs well in warmer zones as well.

Although grown commercially for a period in Minnesota, Prairie Spy (like Northern Spy) is not best-suited to the needs of commercial growers.  For example, it can take several years to start bearing, and fruit size can be highly variable.

Most tasting tests rate Prairie Spy as having an excellent well-balanced sweet flavor.


Last updated 16 Feb 2014.

Rate this variety for flavor

Current rating: 3.1 out of 5. Total votes cast: 22

Visitor comments

(Use the form at the bottom to add your own comments about this variety)

29 Apr 2017 
I have had the pleasure of enjoying these apples for 34 years. My mother in law planted it before my husband and I move on the farm. It is over 40 years old!Great for eating off the tree and best for baking.

20 Nov 2016 
Excellent Apple!

14 Oct 2015 
I loved it at first taste.

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All purpose. Red over yellow, attractive large fruit. Some russeting may occur. Excellent flavor, improves in storage. Extra long keeping winter apple.

Prairie Spy phototape


  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Unknown, but probably Northern Spy
  • Originates from: Excelsior, MN, United States
  • Introduced: 1940
  • Developed by: University of Minnesota
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1844
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1951-062


  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Uses: Cooking
  • Flavour quality: Very good
  • Flavour style: Sweeter
  • Harvest period: Late season
  • Use / keeping: 3 months or more


  • Cropping: Good
  • Flowering period: Mid season
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Self-sterile
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Precocity: Slow to start bearing
  • Fruit bearing: Spur-bearer
  • General disease resistance: Good
  • Period of origin: 1950 - 1999


  • Scab  - Some resistance
  • Fireblight  - Some susceptibility
  • Cedar apple rust  - Some resistance

Relationships to other varieties

Parents and other ancestors of this variety:

References and further reading about this variety

  • Fruit Varieties Developed at the Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm  1956
    Author: Alderman, Wilcox, Weir et al
    PDF of 1950s book with lot of detailed information about the early years of the University of Minnesota programs.
  • Register of New Fruit and Nut Varieties, 1920-1950  1950
    Author: Brooks and Olmo
    Book available as searchable text on Google Books.

Prairie Spy identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Prairie Spy identification photos from website visitors

Prairie Spy
Prairie Spy

Fruit tree register

Do you have a tree of this variety in your garden or orchard? If so please register the details here and contribute to our international register of fruit trees.

The following Prairie Spy trees have been registered - click the name to view more details of each tree.

You can also view these trees on a map.

United States

Latest Spring blossom records for this variety

2012 season

  • 6th May  2012  - tree owned by Florian in Brush Prairie, United States

Record your blossom dates in our Fruit Tree Register - more >>.

Latest harvest records for this variety

2012 season

    Where to buy fresh fruit

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