Saturday, November 29, 2014

Apple scion, heritage varieties. 11.29.14

Apple Varieties.  Image Source:

Apple Varieties.  Image Source:
I discovered a company that sells apple scion wood, heritage varieties. in Maine.  I didn't count, looks like more than 50 varieties.  They are sold as 8 inch scion, shipped in March, order deadline is Feb 20th. 

I went through the varieties, and read the evaluations in Apples of North America, by Tom Burford.  That book reviews 192 "Exceptional varieties" of historic apples.

I know I can graft apples.  Of the apple grafts I made last year, 6 of 6 apple.  All grew vigorously.

First priority is disease resistance.  Especially fireblight, endemic around here.  No use growing a variety that will give years of frustration.  For example, Golden Delicious.  On the other hand, Liberty has never been affected, and bears well every year.

Second, I went for descriptions of exceptional or unusual flavor., or other exceptional traits.

Top choices, for now.

Granite  Beauty.  approx 1815.  Early bearing, moderately resistant to the major diseases.  Spiciness compared to "coriander or cardamom."

Keepsake.  1978.  A cross of NM 447 and Northern Spy.  Resistant to fireblight and cedar apple rust. Flavor described as "sweet, spicy, and strongly aromatic." states "Unattractive, irregularly shaped... Fine grained, hard, very crisp, juicy light yellow flesh. Strongly aromatic flavor. Very hardy...  Keeps in storage through April."

Priscilla.  1961.  Developed by the Purdue, Rutgers, Illinois consortium which specialized in disease resistant apples.  A seedling of 601-2 and Starking Delicious.  Described as "crisp and aromatic." states, "very resistant to fireblight."

Redfield 1938.  Wolf River X Niedzwetzskayana Red Crab,  NY program in Geneva.   Resistant to the major apple diseases.  Described as "red flesh, dry, very tart."  Leaves are red/bronze color, and flowers are large, deep pink. states "Medium to large...Dark red with dark red flesh. Juice is red. Not for fresh eating".

I may choose one or two more:

Porter.  around 1800.  Moderate resistance to the major apple diseases.  Taste "fine grain, crisp, tender juicy, subacid". states developed in 1840, "Pure yellow skin with crimson blush, tender, sweet... juicy..."

McIntosh seems passe, but is a standard.  1796, white flesh sometimes with red tinge.  "Fine grain, crisp, tender, subacid to sweet".  Moderate resistance to the major apple diseases.  The idea of growing an apple that has been around since 1796 is amazing.

Six seems like a lot.  They would be grafted onto one or two trees.

This is all speculation at the moment. 


  1. OMG thanks for the info. I have dream of Yellow Bellflower for a longtime. The fruit is giantic and conical shape. I also would like

    Calville Blanc d’Hiver also. Heritage varieties are pretty healthy in general otherwise they would have disappeared. I can graft apple OK but I still have a hard time with the Japanese flowering cherry. The only thing I can think I did wrong is the ID of the root stock is unknown so I might have been grafting on something that's not even a cherry. This yr. I may even attend the scion exchange all the way up north in Sonoma county. I have all the Gravenstein scion that anybody want.
    Your selection is very exciting. If anyone have tasted any of the more common and popular varieties fresh off an organic tree, the commercially grown product is no comparison in flavor. To taste the apple fresh off a tree is something I wish everyone can experience then people will demand fresh apples rather then sub-standard food. There is no going back. I seldom buy commercially grown non-organic apples.

  2. This really gives me something to look forward to. They also have some plum scion that I am mulling over. I have only done T-bud grafting on plums, so I don't know how whip-and-tongue will work out.

    I have one cherry root stock - a sweet cherry volunteer - that I have not decided what to do with. It could wind up being sweet cherry, tart cherry, or Japanese flowering cherry. My cherry T-buds are looking a little weathered, but may surprise me come Spring. From what I read, cherries do better with budding than with grafting larger scion.

  3. Oh, and a scion exchange sounds awesome! I could probably take a limited amount of several Asian pear varieties. And a lot of fig scion. Some plum. Most of my apples are still too small.

  4. I did a little research and find out that there's 2 exchanges that I can attend next month which is located closer to home; I may first go there and see how many desired varieties I can get a hold of and they also sell root stocks so its a one stop shopping.
    Ah, ha I will have to try T-budding the cherry. You may have a good idea. How come I only see cleft graft on flowering cherry? and the trunk part having very incompatible growth rate with the scion part, a lot of them after maturing have split from the graft.
    I have a bing with a stella grafted on but I couldn't have bring myself to put a flowering cherry on top of that tree which is doing so well. While there's 2 cherry root stocks waiting to be grafted.

  5. It might just take more skill to cleft graft cherries, compared to budding them. I am not that skilled. But I am working on it.