Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Apple Varieties. 9.26.16

Here is a description of the apple varieties in my collection.  It looks like a lot of trees, but most are multigrafts, as many as 6 varieties per tree.  There are a few single variety trees as well.

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:  vintageprintable.com
 There are so many options with apples, it's hard to decide which to grow.  Some of the standards are grown for their ability to be shipped, and for their superficial appearance, not flavor.  However, that familiarity results in those varieties being market in the stores as apples and as trees.  Those are not necessarily, or even usually, the most desirable to grow.

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:  vintageprintable.com
 Some apple varieties are desirable because of their link to previous generations.  The varieties go back centuries.  With some, it's possible that Benjamin Franklin, or Thomas Jefferson, or Queen Victoria enjoyed apples from that same variety (Newtown Pippin), a clone that can be grown in one's own yard.  Others were mainstays a century ago, but fell by the wayside because they weren't the best for market growing (Baldwin).

My choices have changed over the years, but have been guided by suitability for my yard (shape of tree, disease resistance) or by the attraction to taste apples that previous generations loved, or by amazing, unusual and delicious flavored apples that can't be bought in stores.
Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:  vintageprintable.com

Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:  vintageprintable.com
Historic Apple Variety Illustrations.  Source:  vintageprintable.com
 The illustrations here came from the public domain website vintageprintable.com, and from USDA illustrations that were painted late in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Following is a status report on the current varieties in my little personal orchard.  There are many varieties, mostly young grafts on multigraft trees.

Columnar Trees.
Columnar apple trees descend from a mutant of McIntosh, which was discovered in Canada.  All columnar apple trees have at least a little McIntosh in their chromosomes, but that may be diluted by hybridizing over multiple generations.  Therefore, there are various colors and flavors.  I have the columnar trees near the house in my rock garden border, for their ornamental value.

1.  NorthPole.  I've had this tree for about 14 years.  I tried to find patent info, but have not located that.  It's been around long enough that it should be off patent, but may be trademarked.  So scion from the tree can be used in new grafting, but new trees can't be named "NorthPole".  Apples from this tree are described as "McIntosh-like", with sprightly apple flavor.  I like them.  They are sweet and make great pies.  Ripens late summer / early fall.

2.  Golden Sentinel.  Newer than NorthPole.  I bought this tree in 2013, had one or two apples in 2014 and a few in 2015.  This year there were a dozen.  Golden apples with significant red blush, very pretty.  Sprightly flavor, similar to NorthPole.   Earlier than NorthPole, mid to late summer.

3.  Scarlet Sentinel.  Same age and source as Golden Sentinel.  Also similar good apple flavor, color is more green with red blush.  Ripens with NorthPole, late summer / early fall.  I had one this week, late Sept.

Minidwarfs grown with M27 rootstock.

4.  Liberty.  About 13 years old.  Too bad it's on the M27, which stunts this tree.  Excellent flavor, tart and sweet and apple-flavor.  Beautiful dark red apples with white flesh.  Overbears, apples need a lot of thinning.   Smaller size, might be due to overbearing or the M27 rootstock.   Reliable and disease resistat.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Developed at the New York, Geneva Experiment station as a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious, in 1943.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  HIghly resistant ro apple scab, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew,  and fireblight.  Flavor is enhanced by storage.   I like them right off the tree.  Manhart (Ref #4 below), gives the lineage of Liberty, which includes multiple great tasting historic apple varieties (Rome, Wealthy, McIntosh, Macoun), along with Malus floribunda, a crab apple that imparts disease resistance.

5.  Jonagold.  Also on M27, although I also have a young scion on a multigraft semidwarf.  Unfortunately, downwind from a gigantic neighbor tree that is filled with disease, the  tree equivalent of sitting in an airplane seat with someone coughing and sneezing in the seat behind you.  Susceptible to fireblight but recovers.  The handful of nonwormy apples I get are sweet / tart /  very delicious.  I think the negatives are due to the rootstock and the unfortunate location.  Triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.  I really love Jonagold apples, probably more than Honeycrisp or the newer patented types like Zestar.

6.  Jonared.  A sport of Jonathan.  The original Jonathan tree was in Woodstock New York, before 1826.  In theory, sports should be identical to the tree they came from, except for a selected change such as color.  However, if multiple generations of sports are selected for one trait, others deteriorate.  That is why the original Red Delicious is less red, and much better tasting, than modern Red Delicious.  I don't know if this is true for Jonared, which when I bought the tree was the only version of Jonathan I could find.  I planted this tree in 2013, and it has not fruited yet.  I think it's on regular dwarf (not minidwarf)  or semidwarf rootstock, but not certain of the actual rootstock. From Manhart (Ref #4 below), Jonathan "is one of the best all purpose apples, especially if one likes a tart taste."

7.  Porter.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  Per Fedco:  " Sherborn, MA, about 1800. Originated on the farm of the Reverend Samuel Porter. One of the most important of all New England apples, dating back to before 1800."  Good growth but too early for fruit, maybe next year. 
From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Historically valued as one of the great American pie apples.  Bright clear yellow skin blushed on sun exposed side, with crimson red spots.   Summer apple.
Jonathan.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1905.

8.  Granite Beauty.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  Per Fedco"Zephaniah Breed intro, Weare, NH, before 1860. Very large roundish red fruit. A rare dessert apple once in southern NH over and up into southern and coastal Maine. You might describe the flesh as having an initial burst of “warm spice” reminiscent of coriander or cardamom".  A little less vigorous than Porter, in my hands, so far.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  distinctively spicy, appeared around 1815 on farm of Zephaniah Breed.  Large round fruit, balance of sugar and acid.  From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  "Everything about the apple is unusual. " with flavor of cardamom and curry.  Slow growing. 

9.  Redfield.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  A novelty with reddish leaves, red flesh fruit but very sour.  Growth this year was poor with distorted leaves, I may cut off the graft soon.

10.  Priscilla.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco.  A modern PRI Variety.  PRI is the Purdue Rutgers Illinois cooperative apple breeding program, started in the 1940s, intended to produce high quality, highly disease resistant varieties of apples.  The disease resistance comes from having a sturdy disease resistant crab apple in its ancestry, and the excellent flavor comes from choosing good parents in each generation.  Good growth, maybe first fruit 2017 or 2018.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  HIghly resistant to scab, moderately resistant to fireblight.
Baldwin.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1911.

11.  Keepsake.  Grafted onto Jonared, 2015.  Scion from Fedco. A parent of Honeycrisp, long keeping.  developed at the University of Minnesota.  Considered very high flavor but not pretty.  Growth less vigorous than some of my other grafts on this tree.

12.  Airlie Red Flesh.  The last variety added to the Jonared tree, this was from HOS in 2016.  I also added Airlie Red Flesh to another tree, Sutton Beauty, to be described below.  This apple was discovered growing on an Oregon farm in the 1960s, and to confuse matters more was used for the trademarked clone, "Hidden Rose".  In the blog, Adam's Apples, this apple is described as "a good sweet-tart balance and last to the end of the chew...  an astringent, vinous note, some generic citrus, a hint of citrus peel, and something lush and sweet that is very like fruit punch.".  Obviously, this being the first year of growth, no chance for me to taste it yet.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Describing Hidden Rose - Moderately resistant to the major diseases.  Crisp, sugary, richly flavored.

13.  Multigraft tree #2, bought from Raintree in 2014 as Rubinette, Queen Cox, and Pristine.  Queen Cox is described as a more colorful sport of the famous Cox's Orange Pippen, the classic and long time favorite English apple.  Queen Cox bore about 6 apples this year, nice big flavorful sweet apples with a little tartness, late summer.  Introduced 1975.  The original Cox's Orange Pippin was introduced in 1825.  Of the parent variety - which I can't vouch as being identical, but it's not much of a stretch - Jacobsen (Ref #3 below) states:  Originated in Colnbrook England, 1825.  Flavor like "ambrosia salad, pineapple, oranges, marshmallow, and coconut with lime sprinkle over the top", and flower petals.  My taste buds are not so refined, but I did find Queen Cox to be quite delicious.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below): There are various strains of Cox's Orange, with Queen Cox being one of the best. 

14.  Rubinette.  Introduced 1964.  So far I've only tasted 2 apples of this variety.  Neither was great.  Maybe it needs another year to develop full flavor.  The Cox's Orange Pippin website describes the flavor of this apple as exceptional.

15.  Pristine.  Introduced 1994 by the PRI program.  I've had a couple of apples, this year and last year.  Excellent, sprightly summer apple.  Considered disease resistant.  These were the first apples of the season, mid summer.  I really like this apple, one of my favorites, and it's very early to boot.

16.  Goldrush.  Developed 1973 by the PRI breeding program.  From Fedco scion, grafted 2016 onto Multigraft #2,  From FedcoThe first of the new disease-resistant varieties has superior storage qualities. Not only that, but it’s probably the best-tasting apple to come out of the PRI program... Medium-to-large round-conic fruit has uniform deep greenish-yellow opaque chewy skin that turns golden in storage. Creamy white green-flecked flesh is hard, very crisp, juicy and tart" a very long storing apple, for season extending far into the winter.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Outstanding keeper, sprightly flavor, developed at Purdue University in Indiana.  A cross of Golden Delicious and "Co-op 17".  Good for storage.

Porter.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1897.
17.  Hawkeye.  From HOS scion, grafted 2016 onto Multigraft #2.  This is the original Red Delicious, before selecting for increasingly larger and redder strains made Red Delicious into something like soft cardboard flavor.  Developed in Iowa in about 1870.  Not much growth  yet. but this is also not a great spot on the tree.  Might re-graft next year, or just leave it alone.  From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Discovered as a chance seedling by farmer Jesse Hiatt, in Peru Iowa, in 1880.  He cut it down twice before letting it grow, later entered the apples into a competition and from there it was bought by Starks Bros. nursery and renamed "Delicious".  The Hawkeye variety is thought to retain the original flavors, lost in subsequent strains. Somewhat resistant to fireblight.  Manhart (Ref #4 below) tells a long history of Red Delicious, including the original Hawkeye tree died in a major winter freeze in 1940.  Manhart states that newer dark red, spur bearing strains tend to runt out on modern rootstocks, and are picked too early, fed too much nitrogen, and stored too long in controled atmosphere.  I will be interesting to see if the Hawkeye scion produces an apple that I like.

18.  Multigraft #3.  Purchased from Raintree as a 5-variety multigraft and have not added more.  Planted 2014.  AkaneAlso called "Tokyo Rose", among other names.  "
'Akane' was developed by the Morika Experimental Station of Japan, introduced into the US in 1930.   A cross of Jonathan and Worcester Pearmain. Moderately good disease resistance.    No fruit yet.

19.  Multigraft #3.  Summerred. Started bearing this year, for a taste.  For an apple I had never heard of, and that Raintree had included in the graft without telling me, this was a great Summer apple. 
Jonathan.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1915.
Porter.  Source:  USDA pomological. 1912.
20. Multigraft #3  Summerred is beautiful to look at - scarlet skin, white flesh, with a little red bleeding into the flesh.  Introduced in 1964.  The flavor is sweet and spicy.  I think this will be a favorite.  Summerred is a modern hybrid of Golden Delicious X McIntosh, from British Columbia.

21. Multigraft #3  Chehalis.  A modern, yellow skin variety originating near Chehalis Washington in 1937.  Disease resistant, possibly a seedling of Golden Delicious.  One apple this year, I haven't tasted it yet.  Per Burford (ref 2 below), "A variety of choice for the low-spray and organic fruit grower."  Resistant to scab and powdery milder.  Slow to start bearing.  This graft bore one fruit this year, which I ate today.  The apple was very mild flavored, and too soft and mealy for my taste.  I may have left it on the tree too long.  I can try again next year and if I don't like it, prune off that branch.

22.  Multigraft #3 Beni Shogun.   Early ripening version of Fuji.  I did not see whether this was a Fuji seedling or sport.  No apples yet.

23.  Multigraft #3.  Finally, Jonagold was also included on this tree.  Convenient, since I like this variety and the minidwarf on M27 is not doing that well.

24.  Multigraft #4.  This originated as the first apple tree that I grafted at a Home Orchard Society grafting class in 2012.  The first variety was Sutton Beauty.  I've been adding others in subsequent years.  Ate the first Sutton Beauty this year - large,but a bit tart for my taste.  I didn't care for the flavor, but it may not have been fully ripened.  According to cooksinfo.com, "Sutton's Beauty Apples were developed in 1848 in Sutton, Massachusetts, USA, possibly from a seedling of Hubbardston apples...grown commercially in New York State around 1900".  I'll let it grow for a couple more years, and if good, keep it.  Otherwise it has a growing graft of Airlie Red Flesh that can replace the Sutton Beauty.

25.  Multigraft #4.  Baldwin, grafted 2016, Fedco scion.  One of the classic New England Apples until an unusually frigid winter in 1934 damaged many orchards.  Then McIntosh replaced Baldwin.  From wikipedia, "According to S. A. Beach's Apples of New York, the Baldwin originated soon after 1740 as a chance seedling on the farm of Mr. John Ball of Wilmington, Massachusetts".   From Fedco:  "not practical commercially due to biennialism but the only apple that is both disease and insect resistant.” Massachusetts’ most famous apple where it grows to perfection."   Baldwin is triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.  The triploidy also makes this a vigorous cultivar.

Gravenstein.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1909
26.  Multigraft #4.  Newtown Pippin.  One of the most famous histric apple varieties, this apple was shipped to Queen Victoria who liked it so much she had the tariff removed on US Apples for this variety.  From Fedco:  "Early 18th c, near Newtown, Long Island, NY. Known as Albemarle Pippin in Virginia. Renowned dessert, culinary and cider apple. In 1817 William Coxe called it “the finest apple of our country, and probably of the world.”  This is the apple in Martinelli sparkling cider.  By growing and eating this apple, one can taste the same apple as Queen Victoria, and Ben Franklin.  
From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Can store until March or April.  Suscebtible to the major apple diseases.  Bears in late fall.   From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below): "Somewhat sugary and very acid, with a bracing lemony flavor and a green-tea note from the skin".  I bought some of these at a farmer's market last year.  Did not appreciate those flavors, but to be fair I used them for pie.  Good pie, too.  Jacobsen tells an intriguing history of the Newtown Pippin, worth reading.

26.  Multigraft #4.  I grafted Jonagold as an alternative branch, but having the same variety on Multigraft #3, I think I'll overgraft with something else.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below), Jonagold is triploid, so requires a pollenizer and does not pollenize in return.

27.  Multigraft #5.   Wincecrisp, semidwarf.  From Burnt Ridge Nuersery, I bought Winecrisp to be the base tree for an additional multigraft.  Planted in 2015, so no taste yet and growth was minimal during the first year.  Winecrisp is another PRI disease resistant variety, originally grown from seed in 1969.  

28.  Multigraft #5.  Milo Gibson.  From Fedco, grafted onto the Winecrisp base tree 2016.  This scion was small and the tree is first year bare root, so growth was minimal.  Deer ate one bud but one bud remains.  I have better fencing in place, maybe it will grow next year.  Fedco not offering Milo Gibson this year.  From the SaltSpringAppleCo website:  Gibson discovered this fine apple as a chance seedling, likely somewhere in Oregon. He named it Linnton, after a Portland neighbourhood and the apple won favour among aficionados. NAFEX [North American Fruit Explorers] renamed it in 1975, following Mr. Gibson's death... uniquely sweet, licorice-flavoured apple, likely quite different from any other you’ve tasted. "
Gravenstein.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1905
29.  Multigraft #5.  Sweet-16.  A more recent introduction from University of Minnesota, not patented.  From Fedco, grafted 2016.   Per the Fedco description, "Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an astounding unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon...  Round-conic bronze-red medium-sized fruit, striped and washed with rose-red."  This may be 2 or years before I have a taste.  The scion growth was minimal, so I intend to add another this winter. 
From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  "An absolute delight to eat... one of the triumphs of the university breeding programs" and "a misty explosion of melon and bubblegum... a kindred spirit to the watermelon".  He also mentions notes of anice, boourbon, and cherry life savers.  I don't know if any apple can live up to those flavors, but I do want to try it.

30.  Finally, the last of the current trees, not in the ground yet.  Gravenstein.  I bought this tree locally in the end of season, container tree sale at a local nursery.  I've tasted Gravenstein apples, which were remarkably tasty.  Again, info from Fedco: 
"Thought to be of 17th c. Italian or German origin. ... Tender crisp aromatic richly flavored juicy firm tart flesh"  So this variety existed before the United States existed, and we can taste fruits that were grown before the birth of George Washington.   From Jacobsen (Ref #3 below):  Per legend, first grown in the town of Gravenstein Denmark in 1669, although others claim it was brought form Italy to Gravenstein on that year.  Jacobsen waxes eloquent about this apple, making it seem like food of the gods, but ephemeral, does not store well at all.  From Manhart (Ref #4 below):  Very vigorous, but requires many years to bear fruit.  Susceptible to most apple diseases - but the local trees I have observed were huge, and healthy.  Very popular in my area, NW Oregon and SW Washington, west of the Cascade volcano range.  Triploid, so requires other pollenizers and does not pollenize them back - not a problem on my multigrafted trees.

I already ordered scion from Fedco to be shipped in March.  This time much less, I know I already have more than I can keep track of.  The orders are for King David, Opalescent, and an additional scikon of Sweet -16 because that graft didn't grow much this year.  

King David"thought to be to Jonathan x Arkansas Black. Washington County, AR, 1893. Intensely flavored dessert apple...  an explosion of flavors. You may wince, or even see stars. Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously. The medium-sized roundish fruit is very dark solid maroon—nearly black."    From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Good storage quality.  Whitish-yellow flesh subacid and slightly sweet.  Introduced by Stark Bro's Nursery in 1902. 

Opalescent:  " Ohio, 1899. Highly flavored dessert apple for the connoisseur. Biting into the very large brilliant deep red fruit will bathe your tongue with flavor. Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all it’s supremely flavorful. From Burford (Ref #2 below):  Found by George Hudson in 1880.  Creamy yellow flesh with crisp sweet flavor.  Very susceptible to fireblight.  That last might be an issue.

I have a small Honeycrisp on M27 that is half-grafted to Liberty.  It's tiny, I think Honeycrisp doesn't have as much vigor as some of the others.  I may use that as scion on one of the larger multigrafts, this winter. 

I know this is a lot of apple varieties.  With multiple varieties on each tree, I may only get a bowl full of each, each year.  That's fine, and it's all I want.   Not every variety will do well, and some have on-years and off-years.  Even a branch on a multigraft can have a lot of apples.  With so many varieties in a small space, even within the same trees, the trees are self pollinating, ensuring good fruit set.   If a variety doesn't do will, I can prune it off, giving the space and vigor to the others on the same tree.  Grafting is lots of fun.  Scion is either inexpensive (Fedco, $5 per scion which gives one or 2 grafts), or free (Home Orchard Society, or obtain from others of my on trees or a willing neighbor).

There are some excellent references with historical and cultural information, and taste and fruit descriptions.  here are a few:

(1) Fedco in Maine.
(2) The book,  Apples of North America by Tom Burford.   Descriptions of 192 varieties.
(3) The book, Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen.    Descriptions of 123 varieties.
(4)  The book, Apples for the 21st Century, by Warren Manhart.  Descriptions of 50 superior apple cultivars.


  1. Really enjoy reading your comments on the different varieties of apples. I can never have enough of different varieties grafted on my limited trees and space. I've read the Burford book more then once. There are several wonderful varieties that is great in the literature but not so great in CA maybe is the lack of chill hr or water but the cox Orange Pippin and Winsap did poorly for the last 3 yrs, not even 1 edible fruit to speak of. (there were some horrible tiny scabby ones here and there.) so now I've a different approach is to go to as many public orchard to research which one really good for the mild temp we have here. And ask as many people as possible to see which is their favorite apple to plant.

  2. Lance, I'm sure you are right about the regional variation in diffent apple cultivars. Soil, heat, chill, water, minerals, and other factors probably affect the local flavors. Plus, some might have been spectacular when they were popular, but fell out of favor due to better ones that came along.

    I wonder if there is a home orchard society where you live, or if you could contact NAFEX (North American Fruit Explorers) or something similar to see which ones are potential stars for you.

  3. Anonymous11:00 PM

    I happen to have a couple varieties you have mentioned here, growing near Battleground. Gravenstein, chehalis, and also have one called Tompkins King. Grav ripens early Aug and goes off quickly, but nice old timely flavor & makes good applesauce, chehalis keeps a bit longer, and is a nice big size, "king" is big too, keeps longest, and tastes best.