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My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Posted by scottfsmith 6B-7A-MD (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 20, 12 at 14:43

Here are some apples I harvested this year. The list is in order of ripening. My climate has long hot humid summers and I don't spray a lot. So, I want apples that will take some abuse and still come through. That plus great taste, of course! The "++" etc ratings are on flavor only, not growability.

++Cherryville Black - very sweet and savory/nutty with decent sours. Extremely nice early apple. May get mealy if left to over-ripen, but not one of the turns-to-mush early apples. Skin is resilient stuff so relatively few problems. I expect the primary reason for this guy not being more popular is its relatively small size, dull skin, and pronounced spots.
+Laxton's Fortune - perfumed with rose and something else, a very nice summer apple.
+++Akane - Wonderful aromatic better-than-mac apple. I only had a couple and those had bad frog eye spot on them. Generally it is not quite up to my rough climate and limited spraying but I'm going to give it a few more years since its so tasty.
++Transparent Croncels - they have a rich taste to them something like banana/pineapple. But they are hard to ripen properly, the fruits are disease-prone, and go mealy too fast. I think this is an interesting tasting apple but it has too many disadvantages based on my experience.
-Berner Rosen - got a couple, it was pretty average. Not bad, just super average. My climate may be too hot for it. Remove.
Pigeonnet Rouge - Tasting good, somewhat less savory than I remember in past years and more like classic apple flavor. Has an unusual pointed shape. Oversets severely.
+++Kidds - Excellent as usual, crops well.
Shizuka - had one that was too early, seems a lot like Mutsu. Deer or other critter took the rest so didn't get a really good sample this year.
+Smokehouse - I forgot that this one actually has a pretty darn good flavor which is unique. Someplace says it tastes like fresh apple cider and that seems about right. It gets too many skin problems to be a top tier fruit. Has been very reliable for fruiting however.
++Orleans Reinette - A very good hard sweet/sour apple. Unfortunately fireblight has been bad due to late blooms it gets, and it has been removed.
+++Rubinette - Tree is finally in a good production mode and is my most impressive apple this year. Very good taste, both good sweets and sours as well as nice aromatics. Its a pretty hard apple with few blemish problems. Consistent sizing as well. Its more in the yellow apple school than I remember from past years - very sweet/sour and not so much aromatics. Later aged ones have good aromatics and not as sour.
Margil - An early one was solid and had a tinge of the greatness of a few years ago. Tree is having big problems getting enough vigor however and so I don't think its capable of producing a top quality apple now. Trunk looks damaged.
+++Hawaii - One sample of young tree was incredibly good, in the Freyberg league with more sweetness and aromatics but less spiciness. Fruits had few problems on them. Overall looking very promising.
+++Blenheim Orange - Incredible as usual. This guy has a fantastic rich flavor. Relatively few problems on the fruits. Has fireblight problems on late blooms however.
+Yellow Bellflower - Its a classic baked apple and that seems about right based on flavor. Perfectly OK fresh eating but not great. Probably remove eventually.
+Brownlees Russet - Tastes pretty good, has some coconut flavor to it. Nowhere near quality of Pomme Gris but may not have had good timing on picking and did not have very many. Give it one more year.
+++Hewes - a very flavorful fruit. I was planning to use it for cider but its too early. It also gets a lot of disease damage on it. The traditional Hewes is considered an October apple in mid-Atlantic and I am wondering if the modern version is not either a different apple or a mutation. You need it to be October to make cider, its too hot in September.
+++Old Nonpareil - Harvested very few of these, some squirlz took care of most of them. Early on they are very sharp, intense. Will age to a great apple, had enough starch that it was obvious it wanted to age awhile. Only downside on this guy is the small size.
+++Pomme Gris - This is a great russet, has a coconut-like texture and delicate flavor. Better than Golden Russet for fresh eating. Skin holds up very well and no bug damage, the fruits looks perfect.
+Roxbury Russet - Solid as usual, super sweet super tart.
++Meyers Royal Limbertwig - I wish I could name what is in that unique flavor, its quite flavorful in an unusual way. Excellent production of nice apples as usual.
+++Goldrush - I overcropped this guy, should have done more later thinning. Quality of fruits is very high as usual, and not much cosmetic damage.
Abbondanza - These guys have been completely average this year, not as sweet as in past and completely normal apple flavors only. Rubbery as well. Usually it is much sweeter and has a rose flavor. Tree is pretty spindly so it could be lack of vigor. I have grafted this variety elsewhere since it is usually one of my favorites.
++Reinette Clochard - This is a very sweet/tart apple in the yellow school, its as good as any of them for taste. But it seems to get much worse skin, disease, and bug problems. Also gets a bit rubbery with age.
+++Chestnut Crab - They seem like a potentially great cider fruit. Quite astringent, very similar to Wickson in flavor but smaller and more astringent. Harvest season is about right.
+++Wickson - Did not crack but birds attacked and I got nothing this year. Both Wickson and Chestnut are the "translucent flesh" schools crabs, these don't go mealy and have a more fruity flavor. No other crabs I have grown are in this school, I have Wealthy and Translucent and they are not so good.
Winesap - I haven't gotten a lot of flavor out of this variety, they may need to be aged more than I have been giving them.
+Rambour d'Hiver - another great year for this super reliable apple. The fruits always look great, its bulletproof. Heavy production. Incredibly crunchy, extraordinary keeper. Taste is a little mild but very well balanced. With age they get more flavor. Just what the doctor ordered. Looking it up it is known as a cooking apple primarily and its ancient so also fits with that.
++Newtown Pippin - Very good late keeper. I don't think its the very pinnacle as many of the old writers thought, but its certainly a good apple. Somewhat prone to skin damage.
++Pink Lady - Its usual super late self, they are all still hanging now.

Scott


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

I don't grow apples, but at a major Portland apple festival currently in progress, the apples from eastern Washington and Oregon ripened so early this year due to warmth and drought that they had to be put in cold storage early and by festival time were not very juicy and had below-par flavor. Still decent apples, but not compared to previous years.


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

First year I got anything off of sweet sixteen. Tree is still in a 5 gal pot, though it has rooted right into the ground. Got 2 very large fruit, I found them fallen from the tree (expected them to color up more). Wow! The kids devoured both of them and begged for more. This one is definitely going in the ground (there was a question about it at one point).

All my other apples were disappointing.... barely any set fruit and none of them reached picking.

At least I have many other fruits. :)

Chills


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Thank you Scott. I copied your list for future reference after reading it. Your studious and passionate observations are useful and interesting as always.

I think it should be mentioned to others, tempted to use this as a guideline, that it takes at least ten years of cropping to really get a handle on the quality of any given variety- it is amazing how much variation there is year to year. And that variation gives you a clue about how much any given variety can vary region to region. Also a tree has to be in full production to accurately asses the fruit. A couple of fruit with lots of leaves may not be a realistic representation.

There is also the obvious fact that taste evaluations are extremely subjective

Please don't take these comments as a criticism of your evaluations, which I value highly. I only offer them to suggest to others to choose varieties to grow based on a wide range of information. The best information may be available by sampling a wide range of apples at a nearby farmers market to find apples that are bound to be relatively easy to grow.

In my experience unusual apples often turn out to be unusual because they do not crop reliably or are otherwise unproductive or difficult to grow. For a beginner I think it's best to start with reliable varieties and then literally branch out.

I have found Kidd's to be pretty easy to grow also, although it tends to be biennial for me. This may be due to tardy thinning, however.

For me, in southeastern NY, most of the Russets seem very prone to bug and wasp damage with Roxbury being an exception. Roxbury is also extremely and reliably annually productive. Another exception is Ashmeads Kernel (alhtough not so productive but a best of best apple). Neither of these is fully russeted, however.

I'd like to get some Pomme Gris wood from you. Have to see if it isn't easier for me than the likes of Golden Russet and Hudson's Golden Gem- two wonderful but difficult to grow apples for me. By the time they are ripe they tend to be either full of bird and wasp holes or bug bumps and dimples.

After all the late frost, squirrel, bird and wasp problems I only have Goldrush, Jonathon, and Roxbury in storage this year. Worst season in memory and good riddance to it!


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 21, 12 at 10:25

Thanks Scott nice report!! I took notes just in case I decide to plant more apples at some point. Do have three of your favorites so that's a good start.


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

  • Posted by skyjs z8 OR, USA (My Page) on
    Mon, Oct 22, 12 at 2:25

Scott-
You continue to be an amazing source of information and experience. Thanks for sharing your list.
John S
PDX OR


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Hman, I have also found Kidds to be prone to biennial bearing. I should have thinned it more this year, probably no apples next year.

I have also had major problems with Hudsons Golden Gem, the stinkbugs loved them to death.

The problem with the unusual apples is there is not good grower information on them. The description sounds great but it might have some big flaw which you only get to find out by growing it. On the other hand some of them have no grower flaws at all, they are easier than most modern varieties. Rambour d'Hiver is an example of that, its the easiest apple ever. Even the wasps and stinkbugs didn't like it.

Scott


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

The only unusual apple of mine this year that escaped the late frost was king of pippin (reine de reinnnette). It is a noticeably late bloomer, as many of the European apples seem to be.

I really like this apple, fairly high acid, but well balanced by sugar when it finally ripens up all the way around the first or second week of october (the last week of ripening makes a huge difference). Lots of flavor, rich...almost nutty at times. Dense solid fine grained flesh. It has been a great apple to introduce people to something a bit more complex

Most years I have seen a lot of premature drop on it. not so this year. They also sized up quite a bit more than normal.

Management wise it has been pretty easy. No problem with scab. No particular insect pressure with the strange exception of aphids in early summer. None of the other apples get bothered much but this one always sees a lot on the tips. Actually, now that I think about it the fruit showed significantly less PC damage both early season thinning and at harvest then anything else in the orchard....but there weren't many trees bearing this year to compare it to.

Unfortunately it seems to be a poor keeper with the skin and surface getting "rubbery" within a month. At that point the they still a make a great drying apple.


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Rob, that sounds exactly like how RdR behaves for me. It also tends to do well with the bugs. It is not usually biennial but I let it set too many last year and so it did not set this year. Overall I would call it one of the definite "winner" heirlooms overall, it is an easy tree that fruits early and productively without particular disease etc problems.

Scott


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

  • Posted by bart1 6/7 Northern VA (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 25, 12 at 10:58

Scott -
I'll echo the others with a big THANKS for posting this. I love this stuff and will archive it for future reference.

Are these all your apples or do you grow "usual" ones too like Gala and Fuji? Just wondering where some of "my" apples (Gala, Fuji, Ginger Gold, Spartan, Monark Arkansas, Macoun) fit in on the scale.

Thanks again,
Bart


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Bart, I did have Gala and Fuji, they are very good apples for the mid-atlantic and are the two varieties I recommend for people looking for "normal" apples. I took them out because my planting of 1' between trees was too close, but I may add them back at some future date. Gala is not as complex as Kidds and otherwise is similar (it is a child of Kidds) so I didn't feel too bad about removing Gala. For most folks though they probably prefer the greater reliability and productivity of Gala. Fuji is more mild flavored than I usually like, but it gets a unique honeyed flavor when grown in the backyard and left on the tree long enough - backyard Fuji can be far better than the grocery store version. I have a small graft of Ginger Gold that the squirrels have gotten before me, and I did have MonArk until the deer munched it to death.

Scott


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

Squirrels are usually more a problem on early apples.


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RE: My unusual apples 2012 - how were yours?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 28, 12 at 2:17

Priscilla- This was the first year the tree fruited (2nd leaf) and it only had 2 apples. I picked them at the start of September, one being a tad early (12 brix), while the 2nd was just about right (14 brix). I was getting worried about it, as I'd seen some negative comments posted. But, it was a pretty good apple for the season. They had decent size (~3") and great density/crunch, with an interesting sweet flavor. I've read that it can have an anise flavor, but I'm not sure if that is what I was detecting. If so, it is a very mild anise. It had wide appeal, as the 2nd apple was approved of by the 4 others (including 2 kids) who had it. It's not a Goldrush, but it is pretty good for when I picked it, as it beats what I was getting at the farmer's market (my closest notes are for low-brix (10-11) Golden Supreme and Gala).

Ecos Red- Also the first bearing year (3rd leaf on a near full-size rootstock), with ~10 apples. This tree supposedly has some crab ancestry and it is evident in the size of the apples. The largest diameter I got was 2.75", but most were closer to 2". The first mostly-ripe one was on 8/24, at 10.5 brix. It reminded me of a mac, but with better crunch and small size. The later ones (I finished picking on 9/8) were higher brix (12.5 as a high), but several of those had lost the crunch and were somewhat softer like macs. Even at 12.5, it is a tart apple. Many (most?) of them had 3-4 spots of bitter pit, which I cut out. Several also cracked and a few rotted at the end, inside the bags (Priscilla had none of these issues). It wasn't a good first year for Ecos Red and I'm starting the process of grafting different varieties onto it. I'll leave a few branches of the original around to see if it eventually wins me over.

Goldrush- I love this apple. It was 2nd leaf this year and ripened ~8 apples. See this thread for more info.

I should have plenty more next year, as several of my 2nd leaf trees set fruit, then dropped them. I also added another 11 varieties, which will be in their 2nd leaf next year (some of which also flowered this year).

Picture of Priscilla:


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