The ‘Liberty’ apple variety was developed through selective breeding and benefits from a high level of disease resistance. This crisp and juicy fresh eating apple is perfect for growing at home.
The ‘Liberty’ apple (Malus ‘Liberty’) is a modern variety that has it all: it is resistant to the two most common apple diseases – fire blight and apple scab – and is only slightly susceptible to other diseases. The variety is also undemanding when it comes to climate and soil, and its delicious flavour makes it especially appealing to grow at home. The only drawback of this variety is its short shelf life: the remainder of the rich harvest should be eaten or preserved by December at the latest. Learn all about this modern hybrid, including how to grow and care for it at home.
‘Liberty’ apple: profile
|Medium to large; dark red skin; crisp
|Juicy, tangy with a slight sweetness
|Ripe to eat
|October to December
|Poor; can be stored until Christmas
|Medium; strongly branched
|Moderate heat requirement
|Pests and diseases
|Resistant to fire blight and apple scab
Origin and history of the ‘Liberty’ apple variety
‘Liberty’ is a hybrid apple cultivar developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva in the 1970s. It is a cross between ‘Macoun’ and ‘Purdue 54-12’ (a Japanese flowering crab apple). The goal was to develop an apple variety that is resistant to the bacterial apple disease fire blight (Erwinia amylovora). And they succeeded! Even when subjected to relatively high infestation pressure, the variety remains resistant to the dreaded fire blight. The ‘Liberty’ variety is recommended for areas prone to fire blight.
‘Liberty’ apple: taste and characteristics
‘Liberty’ apples are medium to very large and have an oblate to conical shape. The base skin colour is yellowish, but it is barely visible beneath the dark red on top, which typically covers more than 90% of the surface. The stalk is short, and the pits of the stalk and calyx are slightly russeted. The flesh is yellow, crisp and juicy, with a rather tangy taste that is balanced by a slight sweetness. International pomologists describe the flavour as “good”.
Tips on cultivation and care
‘Liberty’ apple trees need a moderately warm climate and are not overly sensitive to frost. Depending on which rootstock it is combined with, this variety is relatively undemanding in terms of soil. Any normal garden soil is suitable; only extremely loose and sandy soils or particularly heavy, clayey soils have a negative effect on the tree.
‘Liberty’ has medium growth rate with plenty of branching. The crown tends to be overhanging, especially when the tree has a lot of branches. Due to the strong branching and the overhanging growth, annual apple tree pruning is absolutely necessary. Thin out the crown and shorten branches that hang down too much.
‘Liberty’ can be cultivated very well as a standard apple tree on a vigorous rootstock. As it is difficult to prune and care for tall trees, the large number of branches and the abundant fruit crop result in smaller apples. However, you can also grow ‘Liberty’ as a dwarf apple tree on a dwarf rootstock, which then requires more pruning.
The abundant flowers appear early to mid-season. If the tree is not exposed to late frosts, it will flower at about the same rate every year without fluctuating yields, as long as it is not over pruned. The blossom itself provides plenty of pollen for insects and is reliably pollinated by varieties like ‘James Grieve’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘McIntosh’ and ‘Early Windsor’.
According to its breeding goal, the liberty apple tree is resistant to fire blight and very hardy against apple scab. Powdery mildew and fruit tree canker can occur in overly wet and very clayey soils but susceptibility to these is also low.
Harvesting ‘Liberty’ apples
‘Liberty’ is a typical autumn variety that can be harvested as early as mid to late September, depending on the weather. The ‘Liberty’ apple has a very short harvest window because all of the apples ripen almost simultaneously and fall to the ground shortly after. The variety develops its best flavour between October and December. Unfortunately, it cannot be stored past Christmas. The apples are perfect for eating straight from the tree or quickly processing into stewed apples, puree or juice, however. They produce a pleasantly fine, pink-tinged apple puree.
‘Liberty’ and all of its fruit-bearing varieties belong to the group of summer or autumn apples, which are difficult to store. It is a different story for winter apples such as ‘Ontario’ or ‘Rheinischer Krummstiel’. If you grow early and late ripening varieties together, you can enjoy your homegrown apples for several months.