Malus domestica 'Empire'
The Empire Apple is a classic example of natural selection and how long it takes to get a great new variety to Market. A wonderful sweet and sprightly flavored apple combining the two most popular varieties of the time, the Red Delicious and McIntosh. The result is a McIntosh flavor with the extra sweetness of the Red Delicious along a better crunch than both the McIntosh or Red delicious. Very adapted to hotter climates, where it achieves its fine high desert quality or the colder apple regions where its great flavor and colors are standout. Ripening in early fall this is a great variety to start out the apple harvest season. Is also a great pollinizer for Gravenstein, Mutsu, Winesap and Jonagold.
The Empire apple is named after the Empire State of New York and was originally a project started by a Cornell University fruit nutritionist, Lester C. Anderson. Anderson conducted his own research on different personal orchards, one being an orchard of Red Delicious and McIntosh apples. He was looking for the best attributes of these two successful varieties and makes seed available to the University. His effort would result in one of the most successful apple varieties to come out of Cornell University Apple research program. First selected in 1947 it would not be introduced until the New York State Fair in 1966 when Cornell introduces it for the first time, six years after A.J. Heinicke the Cornell professor that worked with it retires. He does however remain active with the university during his retirement and sees the introduction of what would be hailed as the most successful Apple introduction to come out of Cornell’s Geneva research program; 20 years from conception to introduction. No information is found to say if Lester Anderson would see his cross to introduction. Heinicke would pass in February of 1971.