History: Once one of the most popular commercial apples in the United States, Ben Davis apple trees were planted across the continent following its discovery in about 1799. Due to its firm fruit and excellent keeping qualities, this apple was extremely easy to transport over longer distances which led to its popularity. Once storage and transportation improved, this apple was slowly replaced with better tasting varieties. It's also a parent to Cortland.
Why We Grow It: The mellow, sub-acidic, mildly aromatic red fruit is not quite as flavourful as some apples but it stores exceptionally well, lasting into spring. Flavour improves in storage, like many heritage apples. The trees are reliable and heavy croppers, earning them the nickname of 'mortgage-lifters' when they were grown commercially. Although it was once incredibly popular, Ben Davis is now a relatively rare find.
Canadian Hardiness Zone: 3
Soil Preference: Sandy loam, loam, clay loam. Prefers average to moist conditions, avoid planting anywhere that floods for more than two weeks in the spring. Generally quite adaptable to different soil conditions.
Growth Habits and Disease Resistance: Spur-bearing, moderately vigorous and precocious, a good cropper. Susceptible to scab but very resistant to mildew and fireblight.
Sun/Shade: Full sun (approx. 8-10 hours of sun daily)
Pollination: Requires a pollinator of a different apple variety that blooms around the same time
Flowering Time: Middle
Ripens: Late October
Storage: Keeps until April when stored in cool humid conditions
Recommended Use: Fresh eating, cooking
Size including roots:
- 1 year grade 100-200 cm whip
- 2 year grade 100 cm+ with 3 or more branches, 30 cm or more
- B grade less than 100 cm