Granny Smith ripening?

beeman_gardener(5)June 18, 2011

I have just installed a Granny Smith and have just read a post stating that this variety won't ripen in Zone 5.

Is this correct, and should I cut my losses and pull it now?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


It depends on what you consider ripe. It will never be sweet. Mine never were here even on the tree into December. They really need a climate like southern California where they can hang into January to get sweet. You can cook with them from your area.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 10:10PM
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beeman, I think you're probably referring to my post. I can't answer definitively but I will say that Granny Smith is a really late apple. What you need to understand (and I'm sure you do) is that even in the same zone, there are micro-climates and other conditions that may give one location a week longer than average or another a week less than average growing seasons.

Considering that I'm in zone 5 (actually not far from a little bit of zone 4), I think that I've got a pretty good setup here. Because I love the apple so much, I even put in two Pink Lady apples this year, just out of curiousity to see if they'll ripen or give me anything resembling the Pink Ladies that I've purchased. I also have a Goldrush and want to try Cameo, two other fairly late varieties. I figure that worst case scenario, I can use the apples for cooking or I can graft other varities onto the trees in case of total failure.

I think a lot of the problem lies with farm markets, nurseries and especially big box stores that sell varieties that are just wrong for the area that they're in. In addition to the length of growing seasons, there are some fruit varieties that just really do well or do poorly in certain areas. For instance, you'll see Red Delicious trees in every farm market and box store around here but I've never eaten a locally grown Red Delicious that was any good (admittedly, I'm not a RD fan at all). Same for Granny Smith, though they typically won't ripen here.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 5:32AM
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alan haigh

I believe GS is actually 2 apples- the original was grown in Australia in a very long season where the apple ripens into a rich, sweet, complex confection. The other GS is grown in Washington State and picked in Oct to be marketed as a green, tart apple. Same DNA, different picking season.

I assume the second version is the one you are familiar with and love. You should be able to achieve that some seasons where you are. Here in Z6 southeastern NY we regularly grow something similar to the commercial GS but if we get a long warm fall it can be what I consider a very special apple. It doesn't happen often enough to coax me to grow it however.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 6:04AM
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Thanks everyone.
I wanted or rather DW wanted a tart apple for cooking, something like the English Brambly. So it looks like she'll get her wish.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 9:12AM
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An orchard near me has u-pick Granny Smith. I've never been there that late in the season to pick, but they've had that apple on their u-pick list for years.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spicer's Orchard

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 1:10PM
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Just out of curiosity, if you wanted something like Bramley, why didn't you just plant a Bramley? It is way more tart than the greenest Granny Smith, and does fine even here in Southern California. Later in the season it will also develop more sugar, but if you eat one fresh in England they'll stare at you like you've lost your mind, as Bramley is to be cooked!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2011 at 8:06PM
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alan haigh

Here in southeast NY Bramley seems to be fiercely bienniel- how does it do there in S. CA?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 6:01AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Here in 6b, RI, I maintain that I get perfectly yummy Granny Smiths here. It's funny... when I harvest them, it's just as the leaves are falling off the tree... so sometimes I almost more apples than leaves! I serve these apples to my guest, and everyone seems to enjoy them. Yes, they are slightly tart (which is what I like in a GS), but certainly not chalky or astringent. All that said, I wouldn't try to grow them any further North than I am... Also, if we happen to have a shorter growing season in a particular year, I'm not sure how well my GS's would do.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:57PM
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alan haigh

How do they compare to Cox or Kidd's Orange Red?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 5:01PM
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I'd say keep the tree - the Granny Smith apple has so much going for it that I'd have to think that it's worth trying, even if just for those years that it is able to ripen for you. I leave mine on the tree as long as I can - right through mid 20's frosts - to try to ripen it as fully as I can. This fruit seems to withstand this treatment, during which it must partially freeze, without noticable injury. After harvest it maintains good texture and flavor in cold storage until May. Even in those years that it doesn't adequately ripen, as Harvestman alluded to, you'll end up with something akin to those Grannys they sell in the supermarket - disappointing maybe, but not a total bust.

Maybe better than assessing your chances of ripening this apple by your USDA zone (which is determined by winter lows) would be by your growing season length. Here's an old map showing growing season length, which I would think gives a conservative estimate compared to what's probably true today. I'd think if you live in the area marked as 150-180 days, you should have a fair chance of ripening this apple. There's a good bit of zone 5 and even some zone 4 in this territory.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:42PM
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Our Bramleys are very reliable, possibly in part because they are savaged by codling moth that thins them out heavily so I only get a dozen apples or so. They ripen here in September in our worst heat, sometimes hitting 113 degrees and a steady snowfall of ash from the brush fires in the mountains. The Cort Pendu Plat next to it turns into rubber balls, chewy beyond belief and completely unedible, while the Bramley stays crisp, juicy, and yowza sweet-tart, not for the weak of heart; it makes the most zingy applesauce we've tried.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 11:37PM
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alan haigh

Applenut, I was raised in Topanga Canyon with it's flammable hills. Your description is very dramatic but you can't count on that ash every year as your potassium source.

Too bad CM has gotten that bad there- I never even knew about them when I tended fruit trees there some 35 years ago.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 5:04AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I'm in zone 5 and I got lovely Granny Smith apples last fall.

I wouldn't have planted Granny Smith because I hear they are extremely late, but the Granny came as one of the grafts on a 4 variety tree.

Surprise. I picked them mid November and they were much better than store bought. They will survive a light freeze without damage, so you can put off harvest until the last second.

Give the tree a chance.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 11:47PM
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I have a young Granny Smith tree, a seedling.

How do I care for it as it's a couple of months hold and just a seedling? I'm in So. California - So. Orange County.

Thanks, TammyPie

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 3:04AM
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I have a dwarf Granny Smith and just picked most of my apples, zone 4 to 5 with very high winds. It has been 23 to 34 degrees at night for almost a month. Check out the rootstock before you buy a grafted tree. My tree is very sheltered by other fruit trees and therefore growing in a favorable micro-climate but It blooms so early that the buds can get frozen. Now that the tree is sheltered I get one to two bushels each year. Until the trees around it matured it had a half dozen fruit that were very tart. My apples develop a red blush but I wouldn't call them sweet. I also have a semi-dwarf English Bramley, their favorite cooking apple, that is not yet bearing age.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 8:03PM
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We're picking some Grannys now for pies and dehydrating, and leaving some on the tree until November/December; they take on vanilla overtones when really ripe and are quite sweet, which ruins it for some people who want a tart apple. The tree is quite productive in hot climates and even the tropics.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:01AM
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