Pre-Labor Day Macs. Yuck. Yet they are always picked and commonly marketed as 'early Macs.' I can't really blame the growers, it is a bit of a herd mentality (sorry) and the customers want them. But no self-respecting Mac should be picked before (an early) Labor Day. Stick with the Paulared, Ginger Gold, Sansa, Zestar! etc. IMHO.
That being said, Marshall McIntosh is commonly one of the earliest McIntosh strains picked, as it does color up a little early, it does mature a little earlier, and it will drop earlier than anything else. All good reasons to pick them IMMEDIATELY AFTER Labor Day! Or before, as you will :-)
But, I have been looking at a new Mac strain which I think represents a superior alternative to Marshall Mac. It is Lindamac, pictured above. Just look at this picture comparing the two side-by-side. (Marshall Mac on the left, Lindamac on the right.) Lindamac has at least 90% red skin, vs. just 65% or so for Marshall. (BTW, both these were treated with ReTain PGR.) Otherwise, flesh firmness and soluble solids were comparable. Interestingly, the starch maturity index was a full point higher (3.5) for the Lindamac vs. the Marshall Mac (2.5). You can bet I will pick these Lindamacs next week, when I expect the starch index to be about 4-5, and they will be very good-to-go, including decent flavor and a nice full red blush over the entire apple.
Lindamac is available almost exclusively through Summit Sales.