All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Sunset apple


Sunset is a popular Cox-style apple, widely recommended as an alternative to Cox's Orange Pippin as it is much easier to grow.  The parentage is not known but it is almost certainly a seedling of Cox.  Disease resistance is far better, and cropping is good.  It is also self-fertile, which is fairly unusual in apples and means it can be grown without the usual requirement for a pollination partner.

Like Cox it is a mid-season variety, ripening slightly ahead of Cox - so expect to pick around mid-September in northern Europe.  Sunset does not keep especially well, and is best stored in a refrigerator, where it will last a month or so.

The main horticultural problem is that the fruit tends to be small, but this is easily corrected by thinning the fruitlets as the develop in May and June.

Visually Sunset is quite close to Cox's Orange Pippin, but often with a slightly more yellow hue to the characteristic orange flush.

Our main concern with Sunset is that the flavour can be very variable.  There is no doubt that in principle it is quite close to Cox, with similar aromatic qualities and good sweetness.  However whilst it invariably crops well in both good and bad seasons, the flavour can be very disappointing in a poor year - although even then it remains a crisp and sweet apple.  We have also had reports that flavour varies quite noticeably between M9 and MM106 rootstocks (with M9 producing a better flavour).  We therefore think its popular billing as a "Cox substitute" should be taken with caution.

However, taking it purely on its own merits, Sunset is undoubtedly a good apple for the northern European gardener, crisp, sweet-flavoured, reliable cropping, easy to grow ... and in a good year the promise of some of the aromatic flavours of Cox too.



Sunset identification photos from official fruit collections

UK National Fruit Collection

©Crown Copyright more >
UK National Fruit Collection

Visitor reviews

  • 16 Sep 2018  Brian,  POWYS, United Kingdom
    Mature tree in garden when we moved in, believe it to be Sunset. Pretty heavy crop, starting mid-summer, but many fallers, some rotting on the branch and others attacked by wasps. Plenty of eaters remaining though. Lovely taste, crisp and sweet. Flesh brows quickly. I have retained a few dozen, wrapped in newspaper and stored in garden shed, hoping that they will keep well. Next year I may try thinning them out but suspect wasp trouble will persist.
  • 14 Dec 2016  Colindun,  ROSS & CROMARTY, United Kingdom
    I planted a Red Falstaff on my allotment back in 2012, along with a Red Falstaff and an Eggremont Russet. It’s done pretty well and had no problems, with a crop of about 30 apples this year on a 2m tree. Although the flavour is quite similar to a Cox, I think I’d have to agree with the site review that it’s not as deep or rounded a flavour a a good Cox apple.
  • 15 Mar 2015  Peter Maxwell,  CO DOWN, Ireland
    Have had sunset tree for about 10 years and always produced masses of small fruit if not not heavily thinned out. Tried chilling some at 3-5 Degrees this year and eat the last ones today still very sweet and firm
  • 31 Oct 2014  Catherine Holme,  LANCASHIRE, United Kingdom
    This is the fourth year of my Sunset tree and the apples are HUGE with an average weight of 9-10 ounces and 10 to 11 inches in circumference. I wonder if this is because it is very windy here and they are thinned out naturally by being blown off when they are just fruitlets. We love the tangy flavour and they are so juicy it runs down your hand. The skin is a little bit tough. We started picking them about a week ago ie the 3rd week in October and the total harvest will be 38 apples
  • 13 Oct 2009  Keith Freeman,  EAST DEVON, United Kingdom
    I have this apple and a Sturmer Pippen. Sunset is the better taste and croper of the two. Both of them make very good juice and cider, so I am not too bothered about the size.
  • 04 Oct 2008  Andrew C Ross,  HAMPSHIRE, United Kingdom
    Tasted Sunset at an apple tasting event at Damerham near Fordingbridge produced at Fruitwise Durley and thought that they were the best tasting of ten or so available.Firm, sweet, juicy and lovely flavour. Prefered it to the following; Kidds Orange Red, Spartan, Orleans Rreinette, Pitmaston Pineapple, Lord Lambourne, Egremont Russet, Ribston pppin, Ellison's Orange, and James Grieve.
  • 01 Oct 2008  Jim Jackson,  WAKEFIELD, United Kingdom
    Marian Fitch may have a similarly named apple "Suntan". It is a later variety (late Oct-Nov), and has a good deep red shading when ripe.
  • 24 Sep 2008  Lynne,  ENGLAND, United Kingdom
    Hello i have sunset apples and i was wondering when to pick them?
  • 03 Jun 2008  Marian Fitch,  SOMERSET, United Kingdom
    Reading the comments I wonder if my 'Sunset' is miss named. It never drops, always has to be picked and stays well on the tree. Large fruit with much red on it. Sweet and crisp, a lovely flavour.
  • 02 Jun 2008  Terry Moore,  MIDLAND MICHIGAN, United States
    The apple is small, but is the most beautiful orange-red of any apple I have ever seen and I have seen almost 700 varieties..
  • 13 Nov 2007  Denise Fletcher,  BRIDPORT WEST DORSET, United Kingdom
    I have this apple and it doesnt EVER fruit after October so dont understand that summary on this site of its fruiting times! I love its crisp sharp taste, even the tiny ones taste lovely!
  • 11 Oct 2007  Dan Kissane,  Ireland
    Picking now (11th Oct); superb apple - sweet, crisp, aromatic, very juicy. Small if not thinned, but this year I thinned early to one apple per truss and results are great.
  • 05 Oct 2007  A. Best,  WEST DORSET, United Kingdom
    Always crops well. A strong apple taste and very sweet when fully ripe. Crisp flesh and not sharp. Tends to drop. Less disease problems than the Cox. Texture becomes soft if kept.
  • 24 Sep 2007  M.D.Hayward,  EX15, United States
    Very heavy crop. Interesting and complicated flavours. Far too sharp for a dessert apple. However, the whole family detests the Cox. Will juice them this year as a last resort. Expect to rip it out. Rgds. Malcolm

Tree register

United Kingdom

France

Ireland

Spring blossom records for this variety

2018 season

  • 5th May  2018  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom

2017 season

  • 25th April  2017  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom

2016 season

  • 13th May  2016  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • May  2016  - tree owned by Graham in Southampton, United Kingdom
  • April  2016  - tree owned by Mike in Launceston, United Kingdom

2015 season

  • 10th May  2015  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom

2014 season

  • 1st May  2014  - tree owned by Ian in Tewkesbury, United Kingdom
  • 28th April  2014  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 27th April  2014  - tree owned by Wendy in Sudbury, United Kingdom
  • 25th April  2014  - tree owned by Melvyn in Old Windsor, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2014  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2013 season

  • 19th May  2013  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • 13th May  2013  - tree owned by Jean in Martock, United Kingdom
  • 10th May  2013  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 12th May  2012  - tree owned by David in Petersfield, United Kingdom
  • 1st May  2012  - tree owned by Keith in Honiton, United Kingdom
  • May  2012  - tree owned by Dan in Killarney, Ireland
  • 19th April  2012  - tree owned by Alan in Chippenham, United Kingdom
  • 15th April  2012  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • 21st April  2011  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom
  • 13th April  2011  - tree owned by Keith in Honiton, United Kingdom
  • 12th April  2011  - tree owned by Alan in Chippenham, United Kingdom
  • 10th April  2011  - tree owned by Erica in Lincoln, United Kingdom
  • April  2011  - tree owned by Roy in North Shields, United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 6th May  2010  - tree owned by Robert@Ankeow.Freeserve.Co.Uk in Newquay, United Kingdom
  • May  2010  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom
  • 28th April  2010  - tree owned by Marian in Street, United Kingdom

2009 season

  • May  2009  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

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


Harvest records for this variety

2017 season

  • 3rd week September  2017  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom

2016 season

  • 1st week October  2016  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • August  2016  - tree owned by Graham in Southampton, United Kingdom

2015 season

  • 1st week October  2015  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom

2014 season

  • 3rd week September  2014  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • September  2014  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2013 season

  • 1st week October  2013  - tree owned by Bill in Smeeton Westerby, United Kingdom
  • September  2013  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2012 season

  • 3rd week September  2012  - tree owned by Dan in Killarney, Ireland
  • September  2012  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2011 season

  • October  2011  - tree owned by Roy in North Shields, United Kingdom
  • September  2011  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom
  • September  2011  - tree owned by Peter in Ickenham, United Kingdom

2010 season

  • 3rd week October  2010  - tree owned by Pip in Rye, United Kingdom

2009 season

  • 2nd week October  2009  - tree owned by Clare in Bodorgan, United Kingdom

Origins

  • Species: Malus domestica
  • Parentage: Cox's Orange Pippin
  • Originates from: Kent, England, United Kingdom
  • Introduced: 1918
  • Orange Pippin Cultivar ID: 1059
  • UK National Fruit Collection accession: 1979-190

Identification

  • Bultitude apple group: 7. Flushed / striped, some russeting, sweet

Using

  • Uses: Eat fresh
  • Flavour quality: Good
  • Flavour style: Aromatic
  • Use / keeping: 2-3 weeks

Growing

  • Cropping: Heavy
  • Flowering group: 3
  • Fertility: Self-fertile
  • Ploidy: Diploid
  • Vigour: Average growth
  • Gardening skill: Very easy

Climate

  • Climate suitability: Temperate climates
  • Blossom frost-resistance: Good resistance

Other qualities

  • Awards: RHS AGM 1993

Parents and other ancestors of this variety


Offspring of this variety

  • Pixie (distant descendant)

Diseases

  • Canker  - Some resistance
  • Scab  - Some resistance


Where to buy trees

The following fruit tree nurseries offer Sunset apple trees for sale:


Where to buy fresh fruit

United Kingdommap >




References

  • Apples of England (1948)
    Author: Taylor
  • Fruit Expert
    Author: Hessayon


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