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The flavor of McIntosh with the sweetness of Delicious. This productive tree is disease-resistant to fire blight and cedar apple rust. You can plant it farther south than other McIntosh and expect better color. Originates from Geneva, New York circa 1945. Introduced in 1966. Cold-hardy. Ripens in mid-September. Best pollinators: Stark® GrandGala™ or Starkrimson® Red Delicious. A licensed variety of Cornell University.

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Since 1816, Stark Bro’s has promised to provide customers with the very best fruit trees and plants. It’s just that simple. If your trees or plants do not survive, please let us know within one year of delivery. We will issue a one-time merchandise credit to your account equaling 125% of the original product purchase price. Read more about our warranty policy.


Bloom Color White
Bloom Time Early
Fruit Color Red
Fruit Size Medium
Ripens/Harvest Mid September
Shade/Sun Full Sun
Soil Composition Loamy
Soil Moisture Well Drained
Soil pH Level 6.0 - 7.0
Taste Sweet
Texture Firm
Years to Bear 2 - 5
Zone Range 4 - 7

Zone Compatibility

This Variety's Zone Range 4 - 7
My Hardiness Zone ?
The USDA hardiness zones offer a guide to varieties that will grow well in certain climates. Each zone corresponds to the minimum winter temperatures experienced in a given area. Make sure that your hardiness zone lies within the zone compatability range of this variety before ordering.

Size & Spacing

Mature Size

When your tree matures, it will be approximately 12 - 15' tall x 12 - 15' wide.

Recommended Spacing

We recommend spacing these trees 12 - 15' apart to ensure room for growth.


This variety requires another one for adequate pollination.

Cross-pollination by a different variety is key to its growing and bearing success. Plant one of these varieties within 50' for best pollination.

Tools & Supplies

Having the proper tools and supplies when growing your own can make the difference between a good harvest and a great harvest! Here's a list that our experts recommend for this variety.

Planting & Care

Learn all about how to grow apple trees in The Growing Guide. An entire section of our website dedicated to your growing success.

Shipping Information

Arrives when it's time to plant

Your success is our priority. We work hard to make sure that your order arrives at the ideal time for planting in your location based on your local climate conditions.


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Questions & Answers

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Browse 14 questions Browse 14 questions and 66 answers
Why did you choose this?
Stark Bro's Store
Nice diversity to my order
Stephanie D on Feb 19, 2021
very crisp and somewhat tart
Steve A on Jan 27, 2021
Nice diversity to my order
Stephanie D on Feb 19, 2021
Was recommended for cross pollination for my honeysuckle Apple tree.
Sarah C on Feb 2, 2021
very crisp and somewhat tart
Steve A on Jan 27, 2021
Solid, reliable producer year after year.
Rick S on Jan 24, 2021
Love the taste of these apples! Hard to find in my area
Cheryl P on Jan 13, 2021
Chose this for its cedar rust resistance
Julie S on Jan 13, 2021
One of my favorite tasting apples
Benjamin M on Jan 7, 2021
Being from New York, I love Empire apples! And I was so excited to see that they will grow here in Idaho.
KAYLA D on Jan 6, 2021
Disease resistant to cedar apple rust
Brent S on Apr 5, 2020
It said it was cold hardy
RONALD H on Mar 28, 2020
adding to a food plot, disease resistant and a bit later harvest
Rick T on Mar 28, 2020
Lovely sharp apple taste and makes great applesauce too.
Theresa N on Mar 14, 2020
Disease resistance, pollination group
Brad on Mar 9, 2020
Good eating apple.
David P on Mar 2, 2020
Good taste reputation and need a pollinator for Gala and McIntosh
DAWN G on Feb 12, 2020
best tasting apple
PETER G on Feb 12, 2020
please label this tree with the rootstock used
WILLIAM D on Feb 10, 2020
something different
Mr Spock on Feb 2, 2020
Empires are my favorite apples in the world. Great combination of tart and sweet, wonderful flavor, very crisp. I lived in western NY for years, and we'd regularly go down to the Finger Lakes where these apples were developed. First had them there. (Incidentally, if you seriously dislike red delicious apples, as I do, don't let the fact that Empire has red delicious in its "blood line" put you off. You don't taste that. Just wonderful sweet-tart apple flavor.)
Josie on Feb 1, 2020
cedar rust resistant
TIM T on Jan 18, 2020
For canning and eating and because it grows in my zone
Barbara P on Jan 15, 2020
The Empire is my favorite apple - a New York native, disease resistant, crunchy, tart, all-around apple that can be eaten straight off the tree or enjoyed in a pie or crisp. Yum!
CARMEN S on Jan 8, 2020
flavor and disease resistance
John B on Jan 5, 2020
CARY B on Dec 16, 2019
The apples are snacks size, perfect for kids, I tasted this fall of 2019 for the first time, the aroma is delicious
Daniel J on Dec 13, 2019
I love the taste of Empires. Similar to a Cortland, just sweeter.
Steven V on May 21, 2018
avoid cedar apple rust
cheryl F on May 2, 2018
These make the most amazing pink applesauce. Our extended family fights over picking extras off this tree. Easier to just plant another tree!
Rhonda S on Mar 1, 2018
favorite apple
DIANA P on Jan 2, 2017
Disease resistance
Myron J H on Dec 9, 2016
Great for eating and baking. A multipurpose apple.
Joseph S on Nov 15, 2016
Disease Resistance
Nathaniel M on Oct 12, 2016
Resistant to cider rust disease.
BERTHA S on Jun 3, 2016
Disease resistant.
Ellory S on May 26, 2016
A great eating apple and I hate paying 99 cents a pound at the grocery store.
Susan M on May 20, 2016
one of our favorite apples
Loretta M M on May 3, 2016
We already have one Empire that we love. We can keep apples in our root cellar for months and they still stay crisp and sweet. This tree is like an insurance policy so we won't be without Empires.
Sarah C on Apr 29, 2016
Love the McIntosh apples but supposedly they are not good for my zone. Hopefully this apple will still give me the taste and texture of a McIntosh apple.
Moe on Apr 6, 2016
Fire blight resistant variety
Daniel M on Mar 29, 2016
my wife likes this type of apple
Gregg j on Mar 19, 2016
Recommended by a friend
Ruth S on Feb 25, 2016
Was recommended for cross pollination for my honeysuckle Apple tree.
Sarah C on Feb 2, 2021
Solid, reliable producer year after year.
Rick S on Jan 24, 2021
Can an Empire and Wine crisp apple tree pollinate each other?
Annie C on Dec 10, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Thank you for your question! Yes, Empire and WineCrisp??? will cross-pollinate.
Is this apple tree resistant to verticillium wilt?
Margie on Jan 15, 2017
BEST ANSWER: My Empire apple has only been in for two seasons, but has had no problems with disease. Of course that could change as it ages and comes into fruiting. So far, it's healthy as a horse.
How many apples should a semi-dwarf Empire tree produce once it reaches mature size?
Paul B on Jan 24, 2021
BEST ANSWER: We appreciate you reaching out to us. A semi dwarf will produce 6-10 bushels. One bushel will have approximately 125 apples each.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to reach back out to us. Have a great day!
Which trees are very resistant to cedar apple rustz?
Scott B on Jan 3, 2021
BEST ANSWER: We offer several disease resistant varieties. I have included a link for you to veiw so you may decide which one will best suit your planting needs.
What is the storage life for the Empire apple?
Joseph T on Sep 3, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Hi, Joseph. If you keep them at 68 degrees or below, they'll keep for up to 7 months.
Will an empire apple tree pollinate with a granny smith tree?
Lucie C on Apr 14, 2018
BEST ANSWER: Yes, it will. They're in the same flowering group.
can I grow it in North Carolina?
ron p on Mar 1, 2018
BEST ANSWER: If you are in growing zone 7, yes. If you enter your ZIP code at the following link you can see what your growing zone is: //
Will my golden delicious spur cross pollinate this Empire semi dwarf?
Hacksaw on Nov 24, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Thank you for your question! Yes, it will. Golden Delicious will pollinate most every other kind of apple tree.
Will yellow transparent be adequate pollinators for empire?
jim h on May 27, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Yes, Empire and Yellow Transparent varieties will work well together for cross-pollination and fruit production.
will this pollinate with a honey crisp?
michael on May 23, 2016
BEST ANSWER: Yes, Empire and Honeycrisp apple trees have overlapping bloom times and will cross-pollinate one another for fruit production.
the empires I planted are not leafing out yet but the Cortlands are should I be concerned?
G T on May 12, 2018

Customer Reviews

4.7 / 5.0
22 Reviews
5 Stars
4 Stars
3 Stars
2 Stars
1 Star
Good Keeper
Empire is a large apple and long keeper in the refrigerator retaining crispness and flavor. Great fresh in salads or for baking!
March 11, 2016
over 5 years ago
Year 2 Results
This tree arrived in very good condition. Bare root with wet paper strips in adequate amounts. The trunk was was of good size and roots were abundant for its age. It leafed out better than average, and took a late frost (30 deg) with no impact. The second year was the same with frost. No blossoms, good branch growth and abundant leaf. This tree is growing as good or better than the other varieties. The first winter had 30 below days without mulch.(oops). Zone 4b and high altitude 4,554 ft. The quality of Stark trees have always been better than average for their pricing. They have always replaced any tree that did not make the first year, no questions asked. That is hard to find now days.
November 4, 2016
over 5 years ago
Empire Apple
I have been impressed with the Empire apple for its cold tolerance. The winter of 2014-2015 was a particularly butal one killing some of my decades old shade trees, 6 year old peach trees, and greatly damaging most of my apple trees, some dying back to the ground. My Empire regrew at twice the rate or more than all the other varieties and has regained a beautiful semetrical shape. If winter kill is a problem in your area, try Empire.
May 4, 2016
over 6 years ago
One of my favorite apple flavor profiles for fresh eating
I'm kind of an apple nerd. I go to farmer's markets in the fall just to hunt down different apples to taste. Started making my own hard cider. I read all the apple growing books, etc.

Empire is one of my favorite apples because it tastes *really good*. Especially the ones from my home orchard, where I'm more-or-less organic and don't use fertilizers to pump up yields. (There's a U-Pick place up the road that also grows Empires but they blast them with fertilizers; their Empires are are beautiful to look at and twice as big as the ones from my orchard - but they lack the crisp texture of my hardscrabble trees and the beautiful half-Mcintosh rip is diluted with the extra water in the cells. Still delicious, but not quite transcendent.)

Having an Empire tree in your back yard means you can grow the apples how you want and pick them when you want - a little on the early side is my favorite. The apple - half Mcintosh and half Red Delicious - seems to taste like Mac early on and more like Red Delicious later on, but your mileage may vary.

The flavor is complex - appley but not too much so, sweet but not too much so, "vinous" but not too much so. Enough tartness but without the full-blown tartness that I associate with Mcintosh. I think of Empire as a fresh-eating apple, but I'm sure it's fine for baking, as well. It also seems very easy to pollinate and reliably sets apples even in hard pollination years like 2018.

Highly, highly recommended.
December 8, 2018
over 2 years ago
Our Empire tree takes care of our Apple need quite well. The apples are a good size and very tasty.
May 19, 2016
over 6 years ago
Stark Brothers products with superior customer service
I purchased an Empire apple tree from Stark Brothers in 2015. It arrived quickly, well packed and nicely pruned. I thought that the small size was an issue. Semi dwarf standard size. It is now growing well with fine shape and very vital. Since then I have ordered another tree from Stark Brothers, with even better results as it was a deluxe semi dwarf tree and it is leafing out just outstandingly. I couldn't be happier. The Stark Brothers difference of outstanding customer service and good pruning put the other southern tree sellers to shame. I won't buy from anyone else and the Stark Brothers stock selection is tremendous. I can't wait for the years required to taste the fruits of our labors

A happy customer
Larry Nelson
June 28, 2016
over 5 years ago
excellent buy
this is a must have for any orchard. my tree from stark has a ton of beautiful flowers on it, i hope to have a great harvest this fall
May 16, 2016
over 6 years ago
Healthy Apple trees
Received several types of apple trees last year. The packaging was fresh, roots moist. Put them in the ground immediately. They are healthy trees, and survived our Michigan winter. Totally satisfied.
May 12, 2016
over 5 years ago
Nice trees
We have many trees from StarkBro's. A few personal ones in our backyard, one is an Empire, and about 150 in our small orchard business. StarkBro's trees do the best of all our 200+ trees. They thrive if taken care of properly and will produce many apples and look beautiful. I recommend them above most nurseries.
Becky Housberg of Apple Trails Family Orchard in Osceola/Weldon Iowa
May 3, 2018
over 3 years ago
Healthy growth just waiting for blossoms. It's about 3 years old now.
May 9, 2017
over 4 years ago