Opinions on Harry Master's Jersey?

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)May 31, 2012

I asked Cummins to recommend an apple I could plant in my front yard without any fear that the harvest would be stolen by kids walking home from school. Their recommendation was HMJ. I ended up planting it in the back yard, but I am finding that it is susceptible to fire blight, which hasn't shown up on any other trees I have.

I admit to not spaying any of my trees because, so far I've had no need. (I will for certain next year).

So, I am wondering if this apple will be worth the bother come cider-making time. I have cut all the tips off with baby apples except one, and this is the first year it bloomed.

Oh, and this is another observation I made: It blooms so late that I am not sure if it will be well pollinated by my other apples.

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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I have not tasted this apple or its cider, but it is supposed to be one of the very finest English cider varieties, so I think that yes, your efforts to protect the fruit will be worthwhile. This was a bad year for fireblight in general, and I would not expect outbreaks of fireblight to be quite as bad in future years, assuming the weather in March & April this year was a fluke and not a new global-warming-related trend.

Based on web searches that I have done recently, it appears that HMJ blooms roughly a week later than the "average" apple, or perhaps two weeks in colder climates. Many other apples are slightly on the later side, such as Honeycrisp, Sweet 16, Ashmead's Kernel... hundreds. There's got to be a lot of overlap, such that if you have more than 2 or 3 trees, I'll bet you'll be alright in future. If not, consider planting more trees or grafting later varieties onto your existing trees to extend the bloom. Or add a crabapple, as they tend to stay in bloom for several weeks.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 3:45PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Many European cider apples bloom very late, they genetically have some wild European malus in them and have several unusual behaviors compared to most apples. The late bloom makes fireblight a problem on most of them. I haven't figured out a good answer to that issue myself, I just patrol for FB and spray copper dormant and agrimycin in the spring. If you are not set on European apple varieties grow one of the cider crabs instead, e.g. Wickson or Hewes. They have no fireblight problems since they bloom early. Also if you do a copper dormant spray you may solve most of your FB problems on your HMJ.

I have not found pollination a problem on my very late apples, there is usually a super late bloom or two left on one of the other trees that the bees have found. Some varieties have a propensity to leave laggard blooms more than other varieties. I also don't like these laggard bloomers because the few laggard blooms are often the source of FB infection. Blenheim Orange is an example of a bad laggard bloomer which got FB this spring on some of the laggards.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:24PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Thanks for your responses, I guess I'll try to take better care of it. I didn't realize that the late bloom is what is making it susceptible to fire blight. I do have Honeycrisp, Sweet 16, and Ashmead's Kernel, but even they bloomed much earlier than the HMJ. I did get a few apples started on the HMJ so I guess it did get pollen from somewhere.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:17PM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

Scott's experience (less the fireblight) parallels my own. I have a Kingston Black and a Brown's, both are european/UK cider, both break bud and bloom well after everything else. The Kingston Black especially so. Sometimes it is just 1/2" green when the bloom is full or done on everything else. The first few springs I was sure it had winter killed....

Helpful to know it's a common tendency. If pollination does prove to be an issue for you, just graft in small branch of another super late bloomer.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 7:51AM
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