Chieftain Apple Tree


This cold-hardy, red apple was bred in 1917 by Iowa State horticulturist, Spencer Beach. It is a cross between the classic cooking apple, 'Jonathan', and the popular eating apple, 'Red Delicious.' Many report it tastes better than both its parents. It has lovely red skin and very crunchy, sweet and spicy flesh. 'Chieftain' produces later in the season and many be cross-pollinated with its parent varieties or others that bloom at the same time.

There is nothing more satisfying than growing your own apple trees. The domestic apple is most commonly a medium-sized tree with a rounded to oval canopy. It originates from southeastern Europe, Siberia, and southwestern Asia and has been in cultivation for thousands of years. In spring, these trees offer sweet, fragrant flowers of light pink, white or rose, and in fall reward us with crisp, juicy apples.

These fruits have a wide variety of colors, textures and flavors and may be eaten out-of-hand, pressed for cider, frozen, canned or baked in a variety of ways. There are thousands of cultivars available, including many interesting heirlooms as well as fresh new varieties. Different selections vary in height and may bear fruit in late summer or fall.

While the domestic apple prefers full sun and well-drained soil, it will tolerate light shade and bouts of drought. For best fruit production, trees must be vigorously pruned and maintained. Apples are susceptible to many pests and diseases, but resistant varieties are available.

Most apples are grafted onto rootstock that provides a wide range of benefits such as vigor, pest and disease resistance and dwarf stature, depending on the stock. Prune trees to encourage open branching so sunlight reaches all the leaves and air can permeate the canopy. More sunlight creates stronger trees that produce better fruit and improved airflow dissuades foliar disease. For larger apples, thin the apples when they are the size of marbles, removing all but two of the young apples in a cluster.

Parentage/Origin: Jonathan x Delicious; Raised in 1917, Iowa Experiment Station. Introduced in 1966. Harvest: early October Description: Fruits are medium in size, round, and bright red. Flesh firm, juicy, white. Flavor subacid, milder than Jonathan but more sprightly than Delicious. Dual purpose, high quality. Keeps well. Tree Characteristics: Tree is vigorous, hardy and productive. Moderately resistant to scab and fire blight, it hangs well into the Golden Delicious season. A recent release by the Iowa State University Alumni Association via e-mail stated that Chieftain's are getting rave revues by students and staff all across campus. It is an excellent apple that never had the promotion to push it in the industry.