Reinette du Canada: growing & caring for the old apple variety


I am a qualified gardener and horticulturalist and love everything that grows! Whether it's a shrub, a tree, a useful plant or a supposed weed: for me, every plant is a little miracle.
In the garden I look after my 13 chickens, grow fruit & vegetables and otherwise observe how nature manages and shapes itself.

Favourite fruit: Blueberry, apple
Favourite vegetables: Braised cucumber, kale, green pepper

The name ‘Reinette du Canada’ may conjure up images of a cold-weather apple. Continue reading to learn why this apple thrives in sunny locations and how to care for it.

Blooming Reinette du Canada apple tree
Plant the ‘Reinette du Canada’ on a south-facing wall to best satisfy its need for warmth [Photo: Sarah Schofield/]

The ‘Reinette du Canada’ is an old apple variety with a distinct appearance, taste and special preferences for growing locations. This winter apple variety has many names: in France it is called ‘Canada Reinette’, ‘Reinette Blanche du Canada’ or ‘Reinette de Caen’. 

‘Reinette du Canada’: profile

Synonym'Canadian Reinette'
FruitMedium to very large; green to golden yellow base colour with cloudy orange tinge
FlavourJuicy yet tart
Harvest timeFrom October
Ripe to eatFrom December
Shelf lifeGood; can be stored until March
ClimateWarm; wine-growing climate
Pests and diseasesSusceptible to frost damage on wood and blossoms, apple canker, apple scab, and mildew when grown on unsuitable sites

History and origin of the ‘Reinette du Canada’

The exact origin of ‘Reinette du Canada’ is unknown: what is certain is that this variety must be very old, as it was first described pomologically in 1771. At the time, it was thought that the apple variety originated in France. However, it is unclear whether the numerous French synonyms are the cause or result of this assumption. However, according to other sources, the variety is from England. Even more mysteriously, the variety has no known ties to the country of Canada.
What is certain is that the ‘Canadian Reinette’ was once a popular imported apple from northern Italy and even Albania. The heat-loving ‘Reinette du Canada’ was once marketed as an “exotic southern fruit”.

In addition to the original form, there are also other varieties, i.e. “sub-varieties” that deviate slightly from the variety and have developed by chance: the ‘Reinette Blanche du Canada’ and the ‘Reinette Grise du Canada’, which has a much more russeting of the skin.

Appearance, taste and characteristics

‘Reinette du Canada’ apples range in size from medium to very large; fruits weighing 500 grams are not uncommon. The shape is often asymmetrical, with one side being larger than the other. Generally, the apple tends to be spherical and slightly flattened or broadly conical. Often five strong ridges are visible. ‘Reinette du Canada’s’ skin is green-yellow to golden-yellow with up to a quarter of the apple’s exterior being flushed a cloudy orange. The skin is rough, thick, and almost leathery in texture. Many thickened, sometimes cinnamon-coloured russet lenticels, or pores, are visible on the apple’s skin.

Reinette du Canada apples
The ‘Reinette du Canada’ bears large, round green-yellow apples

The ‘Reinette du Canada’s’ flesh is yellow-veined and medium to fine in texture. It is juicy with a strong, sweet-tart taste that is well-balanced. When stored, the flesh tends to become soft. The apple seeds are often infertile.

How to grow and care for ‘Reinette du Canada’

Anyone thinking about growing ‘Reinette du Canada’ at home needs to be aware of its climate requirements: this variety needs a warm wine-growing climate to thrive. Late frosts or altitudes with low mean annual temperatures reduce the tree’s health and quality of the fruit. This variety needs plenty of sun and warmth to produce aromatic fruit and to stay healthy.

‘Reinette du Canada’ blooms semi-early and persistently. The tree’s flowers are very sensitive to frost, which is another reason why it prefers mild climates.

Heavy loam and clay soils are not suitable for growing this variety because they are too wet and cold. On the other hand, this variety tolerates temporary dryness quite well. Improve very sandy soils with mature compost or good potting soil before planting the tree. A nutrient-rich potting soil, such as our peat-free Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost, is ideal for ‘Reinette du Canada’.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all your house, garden & balcony plants
  • For strong & healthy plants as well as an active soil life
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

The ‘Reinette du Canada’ grows vigorously when young but also when it is mature. The tree’s crown expands to become widely spherical and substantial in size. As the tree becomes older, it develops overhanging branches. Despite its strong growth, this cultivar is ideal for growing as a shorter semi-dwarf or dwarf tree as well as an espalier or shaped fruit tree due to its compatibility with weaker growing rootstocks. Grafting ‘Reinette du Canada’ onto the rootstock varieties M9 or M26 is suitable for strict upbringing as shaped and espalier fruit trees. M9 is also well suited for growing as a normal, small-crowned tree. The variety’s need for warmth can be best met on a trellis in front of a warm south-facing wall.

Good pollinators for the ‘Reinette du Canada’ are the apple varieties ‘Ananas Reinette’, ‘Bauman’s Renette’, ‘Freiherr von Berlepsch’, and ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin‘.

Important: The ‘Reinette du Canada’ is a triploid apple variety, meaning it has three chromosomes. Most other apple varieties have two chromosomes (diploid). Triploid varieties can be pollinated by diploid varieties, but unfortunately, this does not work the other way round. There must be another apple tree nearby to pollinate the pollinator variety in order to harvest apples from it.

In mild locations without the risk of frost, the ‘Reinette du Canada’ bears its tasty apples year after year. It effectively protects itself from having too many low-quality apples by dropping a large number of green fruitlets in early summer. As a result, the apple tree thins itself out and protects itself from senescence.

‘Reinette du Canada’ is susceptible to frost damage on wood and blossoms, apple cancer, apple scab, and mildew when grown on unsuitable sites that are too cold and wet.

‘Reinette du Canada’ apple: harvest and use

In October, ‘Reinette du Canada’ apples are ready for picking and storing. The apples, however, do not reach their peak ripeness until December. These apples can be stored until March if kept as cool as possible, ideally around 3°C. Due to its tough skin, it can be stored and even shipped without any problems. Because of its excellent and dynamic flavour, the ‘Reinette du Canada’ is best enjoyed fresh but it is also suitable for baking and juicing.

Is the climate in your backyard just right for growing the ‘Reinette du Canada’ apple tree? Then why not try your hand at growing grapes? Grape varieties such as ‘Muscat Bleu’ only develop their excellent aroma with sufficient warmth.