John Downie Crabapple

John Downie Crabapple

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History: John Downie was raised by Edward Holmes, a nursery worker in England, in the 1870s. The variety was named after another nursery worker and friend of Holmes, John Downie. John Downie crabapples remain one of the most popular of the English crabapples.

Why We Grow It: This crabapple sports bright orangey-red fruit, often used to create some of the best jelly round. With its sweet-tart flavour, this crabapple can be pressed into a cheery orange juice that is a great addition to cider blends.

Canadian Hardiness Zone: 4

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: Moderately vigorous and tends to have good crops every other year. Susceptible to scab.

Sun/Shade: Full sun (approx. 8-10 hours of sun daily)

Pollination: Self-pollinating, this variety will produce fruit without an apple tree of a different variety but will produce more and better fruit if one is present. Like other crabapples and applecrabs, this variety is an excellent pollinator thanks to its large number of blossoms.    

Flowering Time: Late

Ripens: Early September

Fruit Size: 1 inch in diameter

Storage: Keeps until November when stored in cool, humid conditions

Recommended Use: Preserves, cider

Cider Properties:
  • Class: Bittersharp?
  • Sugar: Medium, SG 1.055
  • Acidity: Medium to high?
  • Tannins:  Medium to high?
  • Juice Yield: Low 
  • Taste: Sweet-tart flavour
  • Recommendations: Best used in blends since it can be too astringent and tart for single-variety cider, adds a nice colour with its orange juice

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