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Best russet for 5b NY?

Posted by jayco 5b NY (My Page) on
Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 9:08

So I'm thinking of adding a russet type apple and wanted advice on which would work best for me. I have eaten some very nice Roxbury Russets and have also liked other russets I've tasted whose variety wasn't specified. I love tart apples -- Goldrush right off the tree -- and nutty-sweet ones. I have full sun, heavy soil (M111 has been good for me with GR), and many cedars. Of course I'd rather limit spraying. Thanks.

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RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 14:04

I also really like russets and am now growing a half dozen types. Most are too young to bear, but I've gotten a few:

Egremont Russet- It has grown very well (among the largest of the trees planted at that time), but has been disappointing in its first bearing year. Stephen Hayes also reported poor initial results for the first two years, after which he really liked it. He also mentioned that it does better in the North (of Britain), so that may work for you.

Roxbury Russet- Also so-so in first year- they became overripe earlier than expected. I had some from an orchard which were pretty good, but not great.

Ashmead's Kernel- I had some bitter pit (in the first crop), but they were pretty good otherwise. Nice sharp flavor.

Golden Russet- Mine was just planted last year, but the ones I got from an orchard (at the same time as the above mentioned Roxbury Russets) were among the best apples I've had. The orchard is in western CT, on the border between 5B and 6A, so it is probably pretty similar to your climate.

St Edmunds Pippin, Pomme Gris, and Zabergau Reinette are also freshly planted (last spring).

From what I've been able to sample, I think Golden Russet and Ashmead's Kernel are the best. The GR is sweeter (>20% sugar), while the AK has more sharp flavor (still with decent sugar, 18-20%). Roxbury Russet isn't bad, but has less sugar than GR (17-18% vs 20-21%) and less flavor than AK. I've also had some apples identified as simply "Russets" which were quite disappointing. They didn't have much flavor and only had 10-12 brix.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

Not sure I consider Ashmead a russet- sometimes it seems to hardly russet at all.

Golden Russet is real good off the tree but seems to lose texture quickly in storage based on this year. Where I am Golden Russet and Hudson's Golden Gem are both extremely good sweets off the tree with Gem being one of the most unusual apples I grow- quite pear-like.

Here they both get a lot of damage from stink bugs and wasps. On a free standing tree GR is difficult to train and takes quite a while to come into productivity.

Roxbury Russet is one of the most productive varieties I manage and fruits young and every year. Probably because it lacks the syrupy sweetness of GR it is not excessively bothered by SBs, and Ws.Clients I have that make a lot of sauce fine it a valuable addition but the flavor is not as popular as that of GR, although it tastes quite good to me if it isn't left on the tree too long.

I've often read that Ashmead's Kernel is not a reliable or heavy cropper and so far that seems the case with my own tree on M7. Great tasting apple though. I've read that it often wins taste tests put on by the Royal Horticultural Society. The English like a sharp apple but it is not as sharp as Cox.

I tasted St. Edmonds Russet for the first time this year and wasn't greatly impressed.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 21:15

I forgot Hudson's Golden Gem on my list. The ones I've had so far (1 from my tree and a batch from Whole Foods) have been good, but not great (pleasant, juicy flavor, softened quickly, 14-18 brix). Two different family members have mistaken HGG and Golden Russet for pears.

Earlier this afternoon, I ate a couple of the Golden Russets which I bought at the start of November (I picked 30+ pounds of GR and ~100 lbs total that day). They were still good, but are starting to soften and shrivel. I liked them, but they definitely aren't in a condition which would sell in the store. I had them in a paper bag in the 2nd fridge. Maybe they would have kept better in a plastic bag, where the humidity would be higher. I picked them after some mild freezes (to ~25 degrees), so that may have also impacted their shelf-life. Even if they only keep for a month, they were still the best apple of the year for me, out of the 50+ types I tried.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

Once you are used to eating only your own apples, it may become just as important how varieties taste in February as they taste in November.

I really can't say what my favorite apple off the tree is. There are apples I like in Aug-Sep. There are apples I like best off the tree in Oct-Nov, although no single apple. There are just a few apples that are really good out of my cellar by now. Goldrush is my staple apple- partially because it has enough acid to work in the kitchen well and incredible denseness that holds crunch into March, even when stored in a root cellar.

Golden Russet has been around quite a while and many people like it. It is very sweet, rich and relatively dry. In my opinion it is one of many excellent apples but I like more acid. However, if the question is what is the best russet, it might well be the winner in my book as well, if you aren't taking into consideration the difficulty of growing it.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

I definitely need to consider difficulty in growing, as I'm an amateur with limited time. And I, too, prefer higher acid as a rule. In fact the GoldRush apples are now too sweet for me. I am still happy to eat them -- I just like them better fresh.

So, given that would you say Roxbury or otherwise? Taste is paramount, but if I can't get any apples then I can't taste them.

An alternative to a russet is another GoldRush. Thanks.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 15:35

Harvestman, I agree that each season has it's best apple (or two best apples...). So far, for me, it goes from William's Pride (early, maybe with Zestar in early mid) -> Sweet Sixteen/Kidds Orange Red (mid) -> Ashmead's Kernel (late) -> Goldrush/Golden Russet (very late). I also agree that having keepers for Feb/March is important. But even if Golden Russet doesn't keep too late, I should have other types to pick up the slack (Goldrush and hopefully more.

Jayco, If you are looking for higher acid and stronger flavor, I think Ashmead's Kernel would be better than Roxbury Russet. They are both reputed to be somewhat scab resistant (as is Golden Russet- it sounds like the late season bugs are the main issue). The downside for AK is the bitter pit and the irregular cropping. I've planned for the irregular cropping by having 3 trees of AK, spread across different microclimates in my yard. Goldrush is the only other apple where I've got more than one tree of a variety.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

Another apple that is a sweet that tasted exceptionally good this year is Newtown Pippin. Mine has just come into bearing so I don't know how productive it will be here but I love it. In CA as a child it was my favorite apple. I like it a couple weeks off the tree and forward.

Another one that wowed me this year was Erwin Bauer- I had two trees- one is permanently in my orchard and the other in my nursery and the fruit of each ripened over a month apart from each other- very strange. The taste seemed to be the same and both came from Cummins.

If you have free standing trees, I think it is nice to have at least two varieties on a tree when they come into full production.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 23:39

I've found Newton Pippins a couple times at Whole Foods. Once at the end of October and again last week. I kept a few from October and they are still in almost pristine condition, so it seems like a very good keeper. Some apples (like NP) seem to have a thicker skin which keeps them from shriveling. I've found them a bit variable- the brix ranges from 13-17. Overall, they are pretty good- something like a sweeter Granny Smith (and a bit less granular texture).

GS also keeps pretty well- it actually gets greasy in the fridge. I would have thought that the apples had been waxed, if I hadn't been the one to pick them myself (PYO).

Hopefully I'll get to sample Erwin Bauer next year. I got one from Cummins 2 years ago after hearing your report.

RE: Best russet for 5b NY?

  • Posted by bob_z6 6b/7a SW CT (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 13:19

dupe post...sorry.

This post was edited by bob_z6 on Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 13:20

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