Why you should be excited

Chieftain is the respected offspring of two prominent apples from the U.S.A.: Jonathan and Red Delicious.

The story of Chieftain

Iowans know it well, even if few others have even heard of the Chieftain apple, a variety bred in that U.S. midwest state fully a half century before it was introduced to the rest of the world in 1967.

It’s appropriate that the United States' heartland would produce an apple of quintessential American lineage, with New York’s Jonathan and Iowa’s own Red Delicious serving as parents.

And Chieftain is arguably an improvement over both, with nice flavour and crispness, more moderate acidity than Jonathan and more zip than Red Delicious.

Grown commercially in its home state and perhaps nowhere else, Chieftain is certainly a variety worth trying. As a bonus, the tree crops well and is resistant to scab and fireblight.

Chieftain Facts

Its origins

Bred in Ames, Iowa, USA; introduced in 1967.

Flavour, aroma, texture

The crisp, juicy flesh has a rich, sweet and honeyed flavour and a nice tang without being particularly acidic.


This nice-looking apple is flushed with dark red.

When they’re available

Late season (usually in late October).

Quality for fresh eating


Quality for cooking

Mainly used for fresh eating.

Quality for cider

Doesn't have a particular history as a cider apple, but -- like other heritage varieties -- it can contribute positively to cider blends.

Keeping ability

Good (about 3 months when kept refrigerated).