The Macoun is a product of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York. It is a result of a cross between McIntosh and Jersey Black (also Black Jersey) and was introduced in 1923 to growers. The apple was named after a Canadian fruit grower, W.T. Macoun who was a horticulteralist at the Dominion Experimental Farm from 1898 to 1932, overseeing 24 different experimental farms across Canada. He was also the founder of the Ontario Horticultural Association.
The Macoun is a later season apple, usually harvested sometime in early to mid October. At Moose Hill it is usually harvested around the same time as the Goldens and only shortly before the Empires and Reds. When ripe, it has a deep purple or almost "black" hue, a quality reminiscent of one of it's parents. The Macoun has a short stem, which allows it to be "pushed" off the branch as the fruit reaches maturity. This creates a small window of time after apple shows it's true colors, but before it is a carpet under the picker's feet. The fruit needs direct sunlight to develop the dark hue it is known for. Because of this color picking is often needed to harvest an ideal crop. Even with color picking, there is marked difference in the color of truly ripe apples and those found in the depths of a large tree (see below).
Macoun apples: on the left are apples picked from a smaller open tree and on the right fruit from the
inner branches of a larger tree.
Perhaps it is the Mac in them, but Macouns are not ideal keepers, although new storage techniques have allowed growers to sell them through most of the winter. They can also be a challenge for growers in their tendency to give a heavy crop one year and then almost no apples the next. When they do bare heavily however, as they did the year I picked at Moose Hill, the sight of a tree laden with deep purple apples in the late October sun is one of the many sights that reminds me why I am an apple picker.