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The Red Delicious is a clone of apple cultigen, now comprising more than 50 cultivars, that was recognized in Madison County, Iowa, United States, in 1880. As new cultivars with improved color and earlier harvestability have replaced the original cultivar in commercial orchards, the taste and texture of the harvested commodity have deteriorated, and many customers have begun to reject the Red Delicious at the food market.[1] Roger Yepsen notes some of the Red’s less desirable qualities. “The skin is thick and bitter and has to be chewed vigorously… this apple ranks close to the bottom when cooked… sold year round, so shop with skepticism. Delicious retains its cheerful good looks long after its flavor has departed.”[2]


The Red Delicious originated at an orchard in 1880 as “a round, blushed yellow fruit of surpassing sweetness”[citation needed]. Stark Nurseries held a competition in 1892[3] to find an apple to replace the Ben Davis apple. The winner was a red and yellow striped apple sent by Jesse Hiatt, a farmer in Peru, Iowa, who called it “Hawkeye”. Stark Nurseries bought the rights from Hiatt, renamed the variety “Stark Delicious”, and began propagating it. Another apple tree, later named the Golden Delicious, was also marketed by Stark Nurseries after it was purchased from a farmer in Clay County, West Virginia,[4] in 1914; the Delicious became the Red Delicious as a retronym.[5]

Production decline

In the 1980s, Red Delicious represented three-quarters of the harvest in Washington state. A decade later, reliance on Red Delicious had helped to push Washington state’s apple industry to the edge.[5] In 2000, Congress approved and President Bill Clinton signed a bill to bail out the apple industry, after apple growers had lost $760 million since 1997.[1] By 2000, this cultivar made up less than one half of the Washington state output, and in 2003, the crop had shrunk to 37 percent of the state’s harvest, which totaled 103 million boxes. Although Red Delicious still remained the single largest variety produced in the state in 2005, others were growing in popularity, notably the Cameo[citation needed], Fuji and Gala varieties.[5]

Sports (mutations)

Over the years, many propagable mutations, or sports, have been identified in Red Delicious apple trees. In addition to those that were propagated without any legal protection (or cut out because they were seen as inferior) 42 sports have been patented in the United States:

Date “Inventor” Marketed as Mutated From Assignee Habit Pattern Earlier Color Plant Patent Number
Apr 3, 1934 Shotwell Delicious standard less stripe 2 wk. 3-4 times US plant patent 90
May 18, 1954 Plough Royalred1805 Richared C&O standard blush 10 d. lighter US plant patent 1278
Aug 23, 1955 Brauns Red King1811 Starking Van Well standard stripe 2 wk. more complete US plant patent 1411
Feb 12, 1957 Bisbee Starkrimson Starking Stark spur blush “earlier” similar US plant patent 1565
Feb 3, 1959 Frazier & Jenkins Starking Elon J. Gilbert standard blush 10 d. brighter US plant patent 1805
Feb 17, 1959 Hamilton Hamilton Hamilton standard blush 2 wk. darker US plant patent 1811
Mar 24, 1959 Gilbert Redspur Starking C&O spur blush later brighter US plant patent 1822
Feb 23, 1960 Hutchinson Top Red3556 Shotwell C&O standard striped 2-3 wk. darker US plant patent 1916
Apr 5, 1960 Wood Woods, Starkspur2606 Starking Stark spur striped 1 wk. deeper US plant patent 1930
Sep 24, 1963 Gould Red Delicious Miller&Miller standard blush “early” more intense US plant patent 2285
Aug 11, 1964 Gilbert Miller Sturdyspur Starking Cons. Orch. Co spur blush “early” dark US plant patent 2433
Aug 25, 1964 Frank Rypczynski “Frank”, Super Starking5569 Starking Stark standard subdued stripes 30 d. fuller US plant patent 2440
Mar 15, 1966 Cooper Starkrimson or Welspur spur stripe 10-14d. more intense US plant patent 2606
June 4, 1968 Trumbull Oregon Spur4819 Red King Van Well spur stripe 2 wk. darker US plant patent 2816
Dec 23, 1969 Diede Starking Stark standard more intense US plant patent 2956
Feb 2, 1971 Matson Stark Earlibrite5547 Ryan Red Stark standard blush 1 month bright US plant patent 3025
Mar 2, 1971 Maxam Starking standard blush deeper US plant patent 3035
Apr 13, 1971 Norton Vance spur 2-3 wk. brilliant US plant patent 3040
Feb 19, 1974 Coke Rose Red Starking Rose spur blush from start dark US plant patent 3485
May 7, 1974 Pagnelli Starking Stark spur blush brighter US plant patent 3541
May 28, 1974 Ward Early Red One4839 Brauns Van Well standard stripe 4 wk. darker blackish-purple US plant patent 3556
May 28, 1974 Flanagan Starking Stark spur stripe before Topred brighter, lighter US plant patent 3557
June 11, 1974 Slusarenko unknown Stark standard stripe 4 d. before #2440 red US plant patent 3567
June 25, 1974 Campbell Red Chief3578 Starkrimson Hilltop spur stripe “earlier” deeper, brighter US plant patent 3578
Nov. 29, 1977 Silvers Silverspur Hi Early McCormick spur stripe 2 wk. before Hi Early bright US plant patent 4159
Jan 30, 1979 Craig Oregon Spur spur stripe 2 wk. darker, heavier US plant patent 4372
Aug 12, 1980 Perleberg Ace Starkrimson or Oregon Red spur stripe 18 d. bright but deep US plant patent 4587
Jan 19, 1982 Garretson Starking Carlton <spur / dwarf blush bright US plant patent 4801
Feb 2, 1982 Green Oregon Spur II6190 Oregon Spur Wells & Wade spur stripe 10 d. dark US plant patent 4819
Apr 20, 1982 Evans et al. Scarlet Spur6190 Oregon Spur Van Well spur blush 2 wk. red stem US plant patent 4839
Nov 9, 1982 Coke&Smith Super Clone4926M Starking McCormick, Bountiful Ridge spur, dwarfing stripe no change, late bloom light US plant patent 4926
Nov 13, 1984 Kemp Top Spur5334 Starkrimson C&O spur stripe 5-7 d. deeper, brighter US plant patent 5334
Mar 26, 1985 Hanners Eve’s Delight Spokane Beauty stripe light US plant patent 5421
May 21, 1985 Jenkins Jenred,5472 Starkspur,5472 Ultrastripe5472 Oregon Spur Stark spur stripe 15 d. more consistent US plant patent 5472
Sep 3, 1985 Hare Hared,5547 Dixiered,5547 Starkspur5547 Oregon Spur Stark spur blush 15-20 d. dark US plant patent 5547
Oct 8, 1985 Gonzalez Rico7237 Sharp Red Merleley & al. standard stripe 20 d. US plant patent 5569
May 31, 1988 Sandidge Super Chief Red Chief spur stripe 18 d. red stem US plant patent 6190
Mar 28, 1989 Valle Vallee Spur6702 Red Chief spur blush 2 wk. dark red with bloom US plant patent 6702
May 29, 1990 Sali Sali7237 Redspur semi-spur blush “earliest” purple tinge US plant patent 7237
Aug 4, 1992 Winkel AW-164,7928 Redchief Inter-Plant Patent Marketing spur blush 5-10 d. brighter US plant patent 7928
Mar 23, 1999 Deutscher Cumberland Spur10,832 Oregon Spur spur blush 10-14 d. complete US plant patent 10832
May 4, 2004 Burchinal Adams Apple, Burchinal Red Delicious14,757 Oregon Spur II Microsoft spur blush immediately more uniform, deeper, purple, bloom US plant patent 14757

Unpatented sports

Well-known but unpatented sports include:

  • Chelan Red, which has been described as having oxblood red fruit
  • Hi Early
  • Houser
  • Mood,2433 or Starking, which colors ~2¬†wk. before “standard Delicious”1411
  • Richared – brighter red than standard, blush, not stripe 1278
  • Ryan
  • Sharp Red
  • Spokane Beauty
  • Wellspur

In 1977, the application for #4159 noted the “starchy and bland taste of some of the newer varieties.”

The plant patent for #4926 promoted the sport as a dwarfing interstock, a dwarfing rootstock for pears, or to produce “crab apple” sized Delicious apples.

Written on May 3rd, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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