Monday, October 26, 2020

Some Historic Apple Cultivars. 10.26.2020

 I decided to review some of the historic apple cultivars in my collection.   By Historic, I loosely mean anything at least 100 years old, although some are a bit newer.  The basis is finding images of them in the USDA Pomological Website (required attribution statement:  U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705).  Of these, only Macoun is 20th century, having been introduced in 1923.  I think Macoun is also the only one of these that was part of a research program, the others having been discoveries by apple farmers over the centuries.  As before, I edited the images for size and clarity, but kept original annotations.  In some cases, if the info is not on the image, I added the artist and date.

 Jonathan.  This is a nostalgia apple for me, having been one of two apple trees that I grew up with in my parents' back yard, in Southwestern Illinois.  The history of Jonathan is a but murky, either originating from cider mill seeds in Connecticut in 1796, or as a seedling of Esopus Spitzenberg in New York in 1826.  When I taste these apples, I still think of them as the classic apple that I remember from so long ago.  It's interesting to think that I'm tasting something that is, as much as possible, unchanged from before the time that my paternal ancestors emigrated from a Germany that wasn't even Germany yet, in the later 19th century.  Of course, there is genetic drift, effect of modern training of tastes, and terroir (effect of local soils, weather, environment on flavor), but that Jonathan flavor is still there.

Duchess of Oldenburg.  I'm interesting to see how this one turns out.  Recent post, different image from the USDA Pomological Watercolors website.

Porter.  I've only had one harvest from Porter.  This was in the first group of grafts that I did from Fedco Scion, in about 2013.  This yellow apple has a delightful, fruity flavor.  According to New England Orchards, Porter originated in Shelburne Massachussets in about 1800; was described as one of the best of yellow fall apples, but ripened over too wide a range of time, and was too tender to ship   According to Tom Burford's Apples of North America, Porter was "one of the great pie making apples of America, and was endorsed as such in early editions of the Fannie Farmer Cookbooks".  I added Porter as a cultivar for my mini orchard using a graft from my previous multigraft, because the flavor is one of the nicest on that tree.  Porter is described as moderately disease resistant, which is important.  Porter ripens in Late Summer.  Porter is also named "Yellow Summer Pearmain", and is the only tree in my orchard with that "Pearmain" designation.  It's not clear what "pearmain" means, although it might designate some pear-like qualities.


 Black Oxford.  I added Black Oxford to the mini orchard last winter and have not had a chance to taste it.  Tom Burford in Apples of North America describes Black Oxford as originating around 1790, on the "farm of a nail maker named Valentine, in Paris, Maine".  Burford states that Black Oxford is moderately resistant to the major apple diseases.   Fedco states that "Black Oxford is almost black, and is useful for late ciders and pies....Best eating late December to March, but we’ve eaten them in July and they were still quite firm and tasty. They get sweeter and sweeter as the months go by. Good cooking until early summer."  I think my mini orchard is a bit dominated by earlier ripening apples, so this seemed like an interesting choice.  This was once a popular apple in Maine.  

Gravenstein.  I think this is one of the very best apple cultivars.  Gravenstein was originally either a Danish apple, or was a gift to the Duke of Gravenstein in Denmark from Italy, in 1669.  Hard to imagine, this apple has been grown for 350 years.  How many people have enjoyed its flavor?  Rowan Jaobson describes Gravenstein in his Apples of Uncommon Character as crisp and cidery, and as the first great apple of the year.  Gravenstein has been a favorite in Sonoma County in California since immigrants from Crimea brought it there in 1812.  Gravenstein is the national apple of Denmark.  In my garden, this tree bears heavily, then skips a year, which makes the crop all the more anticipated.  I'm not sure whether I should just leave it as a semidwarf  tree in the front orchard, or have a graft of Gravenstein in the mini orchard as well.  I'm leaning towards the latter, since that is where my focus has moved.  Plus I can be more easily diligent about thinning fruit, which might help with the biennial bearing.

Macoun.  I haven't tried this one yet.  It's one season out from grafting on mini dwarf rootstock.  Macoun is an early effort (1923) by NY State Experiment Station to create a planned hybrid apple, McIntosh X Jersey Black.  It may have some disease and insect resistance. 

King David.  Discovered in an Arkansas fence row in the late 1800s.  Possibly a cross of Jonathan and Arkansas Black.  I like this apple, which I have on a two multigrafts.  I'm thinking about making it a more prominent member of my orchard by regrafting to replace another cultivar. 

Sutton Beauty is one of two cultivars that I grafted during grafting class at the Home Orchard Society class in about 2012.  It appears to be on a dwarf rootstock.  I multigrafted the tree, but might revert it to fewer varieties because this is such a good apple.  According to Burford's Apples of North America, this apple originated in Sutton, Massachussets in 1757.  This is an excellent mostly sweet, not much tartness at all, crisp, juicy, historic apple.  Each year I look forward to tasting some of these excellent apples.   This apple is described as moderately resistant to most apple diseases, other than fireblight.  On the same tree, I have Airlie Red Flesh, which gets quite a lot of scab, while Sutton Beauty does not have any blemishes.


NorthPole Apple Harvest. 10.26.2020

 I was too late to rescue most of the NorthPole apples, which is a bit disappointing because they are one of my favorites.  It would have been better to harvest them 2 or 3 weeks ago.  Even so, there is a nice box of apples.  I used organza bags to protect some of the apples from this columnar tree, which actually did work out nicely, protecting those apples while others deteriorated due to insect and bird bites and disease.

These are big, juicy sweet apples with a classic McIntosh flavor.   I think they are good in apple sauce and pies.

Apple Scion Order for 2021. 10.24.2020

I ordered Apple Scion, and a Pear Scion for next year.  None of these will be new trees.  I like trying them on multigrafts.  That way they bear sooner, I get a taste sooner, and I don't have to devote space, effort, and cost to entirely new trees.  I think I will retire a few less desirable branches and replace them with these.  Some may go onto the espaliers that I am growing.  I also changed my mind about a couple of the minigrafts, which I will overgraft with a couple or few of these.

Honeycrisp.  Everyone knows this one.  I have tried it before.  It is not easy.  It will go on one of the minidwarfs that I decided to overgraft.

 Gala.  A relatively modern apple (1934 if that is modern) with an excellent flavor originally from New Zealand.  Ripens in Winter and is a keeping apple.  Gala is a cross of Kidd's Orange Red and Golden Delicious.  Kidd's Orange Red is a cross of Cox's Orange Pippin and Delicious.  Cox is the classic English apple that gives some of its descendants a more tropical, aromatic flavor.  I don't know if that "Delicious" is "Red Delicious" - I read it is not "Golden Delicious", anyway. 

 Duchess of Oldenberg.  A historic apple, originally from Russia.  Ripens late Summer.

Otterson.  A smaller, tart, highly red flesh juice apple with some astringency.  This apple is for coloring apple juices red by increasing the anthocyanin content.  Ripens in Fall, per Fedco.  Probably late 20th century.

William's Pride.  Modern PRI disease resistant apple.  Ripens in early August.  (Fall, per Fedco).   Williams Pride has a complex lineage, with the only grandparent that I recognize as Jonathan.  Five generations back there is Rome and Malus floribunda 821, the source of its scab resistance.  The pollination event that created William's Pride was in 1973 at the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL.  Described as a Summer dessert apple.

Opalescent.  Historic apple.  Ripens in Fall per Fedco.

Dana Hovey Pear - a winter pear.  This is my first knowledge of "winter pears".  Will it be easier to know when they are ripe?  An Experiment.


Of these apples, only Opalescent and Duchess of Oldenburg are historic variety (more than 100 years old).  This is an image of Opalescent from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705 (attribution required by the web site)

I edited this image slightly to increase contrast and color resolution, and edited some of the margins to make the image more visible.  

According to Apples of North America, by Tom Burford, Opalescent originated in 1880 when George Hudson found the seedling while digging out stumps in Barry County, Michigan.  It stores well.  It has susceptibility to apple diseases.  I have a small branch of Opalescent on a dwarf multigraft.  I like the apple, nice sweet  flavor.    I decided to include this in my scion order because I'm not confident that if I take a cutting from my multigraft, that it will be the right one.  According to Trees of Antiquity, Opalescent was once widely grown in New England.

Duchess of Oldenberg, from the same USDA Pomological Website as above.  According to Fedco, Duchess of Oldenburg was imported in 1835 along with other Russian apples.  It was named for the sister of Czar Alexander, Catherine Pavlovna.  Described as scab resistant, which is good in my garden.  Considered one of the best for pies and sauce.  As quoted from Apples of New York in Trees of Antiquity, these apples "Kept up the hope of prairie orchardists in times of great discouragement".   According to Wikipedia, Duchess of Oldenburg dates to the era of 1750 - 1799.



Saturday, October 24, 2020

More Apple Harvest. 10.24.2020

 Almost all of the apples are harvested.   Some are a little too late, and no longer full flavor.  I didn't get much of an early variety harvest this year, and missed some of the ones that did.  The thing about gardening is, each living thing has it's own time and season.  While there is flexibility, you have to read the signals that nature provides.

Anyway, there are still lots of apples.  This is from the columnar type, Scarlet Sentinel.  These are certainly not "Scarlet" apples, just a blush of red.  They may not be fully ripe yet.  They have a nice flavor, mildly sweet, not  much sourness.  Nice apples, no scab at all.  This tree had no care other than pruning lower branches out of deer range, and no watering  at a this year.

Mixed apples from the front yard.  The Greenish ones are GoldRush.  They are late ripening, known for keeping a long time.  The others are a mix of what remained, some Rubinette, Queen Cox, and a couple of others.  The basket is from the Jonathan / Jonared / Others apple tree.

This is a mixed box.  The scabby ones are Airlie Red Flesh.  The others are a mix of Baldwin, Opalescent, Sutton Beauty, and a few others.

Deer Fence. 10.16.2020

This year's new deer fence worked out wonderfully.  Other than the recent tragedy last week when I left the gate open for just a single night.  Just one night.  

Fortunately, that was after almost all of the veggies have been harvested for the year.  I hope the mini apple trees will survive and come back.  We'll see...  in April.

 This photo was in Nov, shortly after the fence was built. This year, having a good fenced garden was a life saver.  It gave a better crop of plants that in previous years didn't grow at all due to deer and, sometimes, rabbits.  It was far easier to manage that my previous make-shift fencing.  I was able to branch out and grow a few things that I wanted to try, and the animals always destroyed before, like beans and peas.  Even the supposedly deer-resistant plants, like onions and garlic, did better.

It was wonderful not having to think of my vegetable garden as a battleground against deer, and also rabbits.  It was the best, most diverse, most productive garden that I have ever had.

Space is at a premium.  Last winter I didn't have room elsewhere for potatoes, which don't need that protection.   Next year they'll go where I currently have sweetcorn and old raised beds. That will free up some additional space.  Also, I won't plant so many snow peas, which can spread too much for the amount that I want.  I might move some squash outside of the fence, although that can be a iffy prospect because deer like some varieties and leave others alone.  On the other hand, raised beds and fruit trees will take up more room than this year, so I need to plan carefully.