Softball size green apple used as crabapple rootstock

nyRockFarmer(5A Southern Tier, NY)July 2, 2014

My parents planted a flowering crabapple almost 20 years ago. The tree only lived a few years and died. The stump sprouted and grew into full sized tree. They let it grow because they thought it might be the crabapple, but when it started to bear large apples it became obvious it was the rootstock of a grafted tree that survived.

I have never seen apples like these before. They are unusually large. The skin is green and rough, like bartlett pear, with a red blush. The flesh is hard/crispy with course texture. It is very juicy and sweet without any tart (low acid). When cooked it breaks down completely and sooner than any other apple variety I've cooked. They are only good for a sweetener in cider, apple sauce, and spreads.

Any idea what this apple might be? Since it has low desert quality, I can see why it never became popular. Its use for rootstock might be related to its cold hardiness. Other than pears, it is the only fruit tree in the area that had fruit buds to survive the brutal 2013-2014 winter. In fact the tree is loaded.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It could be that your apple is a one of a kind unknown and unnamed seedling. That would be the case if the crab apple rootstock was a seeding.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:21AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

My guess is Antonovka that is commonly used as a hardy rootstock.

Here is a link that might be useful: Antonovka

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 9:50AM
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nyRockFarmer(5A Southern Tier, NY)

"My guess is Antonovka that is commonly used as a hardy rootstock." - milehighgirl

Good suggestion! For minute I thought it was it, but there are some differences. This apple is never tart and stays greenish like granny smith. The antonovka is tart and turns yellowish as it ripens. I was also thinking that it could be hybrid of the antonovka, but descriptions say it's unique in that the seed produces a tree true to parent. I can see why it is very good root stock.

"It could be that your apple is a one of a kind unknown and unnamed seedling. That would be the case if the crab apple rootstock was a seeding." - fruitnut

That is good point, but it raises a question I never thought of before. Why do they grow rootstock from seed if they can't guarantee the characteristics of the tree it produces?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:54PM
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lucky_p

Some nurseries used to (and may still) grow out seedlings of Golden Delicious for use as standard rootstocks, but they probably lacked the hardiness of Antonovka and Ranetka for cold zones.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 2:02PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Lucky, That would make sense more than Antonovka. That would also mean that the tree is an original and therefore not like anything we could find a description for. If it was a custom-grafted tree the rootstock could be anything, even a cider apple seedling.

Rockfarmer, You may never know what it is, but if it makes a good cooking apple then just accept it for what it is. Maybe you could graft on some good desert apple scions.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 12:46PM
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nyRockFarmer(5A Southern Tier, NY)

While looking into antonovka, I noticed a number of other antique apples that had similar characteristics. I was oblivious to all these other varieties that are no longer popular. It seems like it would have been considered a pearmain or russet. Pearmain is a group of apples that have pear like characteristics, which describes this perfectly. From what I can gather, most of these outdated antique apples are extremely hardy when compared to modern varieties. It makes sense. They didn't have the technology and resources to baby the visually appealing, yet fragile, engineered varieties we covet today. Hardiness would have been critical in a low tech world.

Now I'm thinking I should try to propagate this tree for rootstock. It's hardier than all the other apple trees I'm familiar with and I like the size (16' x 16').

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 5:31PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

If your tree puts out any suckers then you have ready-made rootstock.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 3:01AM
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