Spartan is a small sweet apple, and a great favourite with children. It is very much a "McIntosh" style apple, bright crimson skin and whiter-than-white flesh. We leave ours on the tree as long as possible, until they are crimson all over, as this allows the flavour to develop. Straight from the tree the flesh is very crisp and juicy, but it softens a bit within a week or so of picking - although remaining juicy. This is also a good variety for juicing - the juice colour is not especially remarkable but the flavour is sweet and pleasant. Spartan is an excellent garden apple, being easy to grow, resistant to scab, fairly resistant to mildew, and it crops very reliably - and by growing your own you can enjoy Spartan at its best, straight from the tree. However it can be prone to canker in wetter regions.
Spartan is a historically interesting apple, being an early example of a variety developed in a formal scientific breeding programme in Canada. It was raised at the Canadian Apple Research Station in Summerland, British Columbia, in the 1920s, and the mother variety is McIntosh (of course). There is some uncertainty over the pollen parent, it is usually thought to be Newtown Pippin.
Spartan is also one of the few North American apple varieties that can be grown successfully throughout the UK, where it has long been a popular garden apple variety.
If you only have space for one of the McIntosh-style apple varieties in your garden orchard, Spartan is a good choice - straight from the tree on a cold autumn morning, the vinous sugar-rush is hard to beat!
The identification paintings in the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection span the years 1886 to 1942.
Citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705.
The following tree nurseries offer Spartan apple trees for sale:
The following orchards grow Spartan:
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