Apple Variety

bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)August 17, 2012

I've been trying to decide what I want to plant next spring, while there is still a full selection of inventory and I can get the best grade trees. Can anyone comment on how the following apples have performed? I'm interested in both taste and disease resistance, as I've been going with slender spindle training (~5' spacing) and zip-lock bags as my approach.

I've filled the parts of the yard with the most sun and am now moving on to some areas with 6-7 hours of sun. The main area has morning sun followed by dappled shade in the early afternoon and a bit of direct sun in the late afternoon. Another spot has shade in the morning and direct sun from noon until sundown.

Court Pendu Plat- Scott mentioned this one- he had it in a bad location and was considering removing it. Was fireblight on late blooms the only issue or was there another problem? Also, how bad of a location was it- after all, I'm considering it for a ~6-7 hour sun location too...KuffelCreek and Applenut both say that this apple doesn't do well in the heat, so that gave me hope that it may do well in early afternoon shade.

Swaar- Both Harvestman and Scott have mention this one. The 1913 NY Apple Bulletin says "One of the best for the amateur. Requires deep, rich loam."

Crimson Topaz- Harvestman liked this one a lot last fall.

Sweet Bough- I mentioned this in the recent summer apples thread, as there are some good comments online. It seems like only Axel is growing this, though it hasn't fruited yet for him.

Margil- I know Scott has had inconsistent performance from this. Was the good performance in cooler years? If so, a shaded spot may work well.

Ribston Pippin- I've seen conflicting reports on its disease resistance- some say it is very scab-susceptible, while others say it is has excellent resistance. I've seen several reports that it is susceptible to canker (fireblight?).

Holstein- I've heard a lot of people mention this variety on the forum, but haven't seen much more than they like it. Many appear to be from the pacific NW, so maybe a shaded spot in the NE would work...

Alkmene- This apple has been mentioned recently by Axel a few times, but there isn't much more info in the forums. Washington State has a lot of positive comments on this in their annual fruit reports.

Sansa- Harvestman has recommended this one and it sounds like a good late summer/early fall apple. I was thinking about Zestar (which was excellent from the farmer's market this week), but from what I've heard it is much more scab susceptible than Sansa.

Thanks to everyone who has (and hopefully will continue to :) ) provided this feedback. I hope to be able to reciprocate in kind. This fall I've got apples on the first 3 trees- Ecos Red, Priscilla, and Goldrush (though everyone knows about this one...), with another 18 varieties planted.

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alan haigh

I like Zestar more than Sansa but they have different virtues. Sansa is pure sugar and it is surprising to get such a dose in an earlier apple- it has flavor too. Zestar has the Honeycrisp snap to it without all the Honeycrisp issues. Zestar ripens fine in hot weather, I find Honeycrisp looses quality when it's too warm at ripening time.

Swaar is easy enough to grow but not especially distinctive except in its amazing heft. Densest apple I've ever grown but not very interesting flavor-wise.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:29PM
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Axel(12b/Sunset H2)

Court Pendu Plat has never done much for me, not sure why I can't get it to grow. Keep in mind Applenut lives in the LA Inland empire, in CT, you will never get the kind of heat they get down there.

Margil is a cool interesting old apple, it's a bit on the dry and spongy side, but the flavor is pleasant. It's ugly and prone to cracking.

My sansas here develop Anise flavor, they are quite nice. Zestar is more of an all around pleasing flavor for a larger audience, thus less interesting but still very good. And my zestars keep until February in the crisper, even if they ripened in late August.

Swaar is complex and old world like, and coarse fleshed. I think of this one more as a cooker than a table apple, although it's still good to eat straight off the tree.

Holstein has not fruited for me, and I've had it for a while now. Not sure what is wrong. Seems it takes a long time to come into bearing.

Alkemene is indeed one of my top recommendations. It's definitely one of the top 10 apples I grow, out of 800 that's pretty good.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:00PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I was checking into the brix levels of Sansa (14.3%) and found a couple other ones to consider- Crimson Crisp and Scarlet O'Hara. Aside from Goldrush, they had the highest firmness (22 vs 25 lb/sq inch, I suspect). They also had fairly high brix (14.3% and 16.1%). Only GR, Rezista Gala and some Jonnagold strains were slightly higher in brix (from this study in Ky).

It's interesting the difference that climate seems to have on Sansa. I'm guessing that you don't see any anise in it Harvestman? Either way, it's sounding pretty good.

I also located a French paper which listed 13.7 brix (and around 17 firmness) for Topaz. Of the 3 apples they were comparing, Topaz had the highest sugar and acid, with the lowest sugar:acid ratio.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 11:23PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Court Pendu Plat is a really ugly apple and it is very old (Roman times?). I had one at the All About Fruit Show here in the Portland area. I was astonished at the complex flavor. I want to grow it.

Margil and Ribston Pippin are old English favorites, which tells you something about what climates they grow well in. I am growing both, but they haven't fruited yet.

Swaar is an old apple that the Dutch grew in New York State. It has the reputation of staying on the tree deep into the winter.
John S

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 1:44AM
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alan haigh

Nope, no anise in Sansa here. And dismissing Zestar as just a nondescript apple for the masses would be a mistake IMO unless you do the same for Honeycrisp. Just because an apple is popular doesn't mean it isn't wonderful in its way. Texture is as important as taste and Zestar has huge value for people in areas that can't reliably grow a quality Honeycrisp. The aromatics may not be noteworthy, but like Honeycrisp, Zestar has a nice sugar-acid balance and is very juicy to go along with that snap of it's unusually large cells.

On the other hand, I have no interest in growing 100 varieties of apples and trying to keep them separate in storage. About 15 different varieties is all I need to get through winter with an interested palate.

I think one of those varieties should be Ashmead's Kernel, just to throw in the name of my current favorite antique, even though it isn't part of this discussion. Usually a popular apple is popular for a reason- even amongst antiques.

Neither Zestar or Sansa will be in my fridge over winter, but Zestar will impress visitors at least as much as Sansa off the tree. Both are foraging apples for me- not storage.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 7:44AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


How are the Honeycrisp this year out in NY? Last fall the best store bought Honeycrisp came from NY state..I think around L Erie? Not sure if that is right. They were better then the ones grown across the river 10 minutes from the grocery store...obviously growing conditions i'm sure are a lot different and vary year to year.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 9:38AM
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alan haigh

FT, they will probably pretty much suck as they will begin ripening in about a week. I think if you really like this apple and are warmer than Z5 it might be best in a somewhat shady spot. In what used to be a normal season they are reliable here although young trees get a lot of rot along with other problems.

In my own orchard the frost knocked them out but I have them at a couple of other sites so I'll let you know.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:43AM
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HM: You have got me concerned about the Honeycrisp I planted last winter. I have read that I am likely to have fireblight issues here in the south but I was not aware of other problems. I do not care to have a long term fight to keep it growing well when there are so many other disease resistant choices available. Anyone else growing Honeycrisp successfully in the south? Should I even bother fighting the disease battle or just swap it out with something like Zestar?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 4:27PM
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alan haigh

I don't know about Honeycrisp down there, of course, but it seems unlikely quality would be good during likely ripening in your Aug temps. Seems like Zestar would have better chance for quality.

Are there any HC at local farmers markets? Probably be ripe now.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 5:52PM
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Axel(12b/Sunset H2)

Harvestman, I love Zestar, I don't think I said it's non-descript, I said it has broader appeal than Sansa, which develops an anise flavor here, hence might not be desirable for some. I also think Zestar is much better than honeycrisp, just not as big.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 8:08PM
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alan haigh

Sorry axel, didn't mean to misquote. I was left with the impression you weren't fond of Zestar.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 10:00PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

John S- how do the Ribston and Margil compare from a scab standpoint? Even though neither is fruiting for you, it would be good to hear how resistant the leaves are. As I'm bagging the fruit, it is mostly the leaves at risk anyways.

Has anyone tried Alkmene on the east coast (or even better, in the Northeast)? It's good to hear how well it works for Axel, but the conditions are pretty different out there.

I had the last of the Zestars today- it was much better than the 3 other apples varieties which I also got at the farmers market: Redfree (good hard texture, but pretty boring and a bit under-ripe), Macintosh (quite under-ripe and too sour), and Ginger gold (which was past its peak and more sweet than sweet-tart- about 2 weeks ago I had some Ginger Golds which were pretty good and almost up to the Zestars. The Zestars had the highest brix at 13, vs 10-11 for the others.

Zestars seemed pretty large to me- the thing which differentiated them from Honeycrisp was a lower density. While still crunchy, they had a lighter feel.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 1:49AM
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alan haigh

I believe Macintosh needs cool nights to ripen properly, maybe it's the same deal with Honeycrisp. I doubt Mac quality will be good this year as a Virginia-type summer is not the correct prescription for this apple. I don't think any true Macintosh is likely to give you decent apples in Aug.- not with night temps in the '70's.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 6:24AM
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I a new at growing apples, and am now realizing that just because a variety will grow in south, that does not mean it will taste good and should be planted here. Should have known that since Honeycrisp was developed by the University of Minnesota, it would probably not do well here. Thank you HM for sharing your wisdom with folks like me in this forum, it is a big help. Sound like I need to stick to the varieties that are proven to grow well in the south.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2012 at 8:48PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

I'm no pomologist, but from the descriptions of a fully ripened Granny Smith, I'd consider getting one. OK, I already do have one, but doubt it will perform as it could down there.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Axel(12b/Sunset H2)

NorthGa, you are right. The best way to find the apples that will do well for you is to ask around and check your local nurseries. We have some amazing apples here in California that don't to well in higher latitudes. There are lots of good Southern apples, I would recommend Lee Calhoun's book, he lists a whole bunch of varieties.

NY apples in general don't seem to do too well for us here, McIntosh and spigold are perfect examples. But interestingly, apples that are considered cookers in higher latitudes turn into yummy table apples further south. We do get really good northern spy apples, while they are cookers in NY they turn into sweet table apples for us. Granny Smith is yet another example of an apple that likes heat.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bob, I have Court Pendu Plat in about 6 hours of sun. I had it too crammed but thinned some trees around it so hopefully next year I will get a better crop. Its a decent apple, its of the yellow-fleshed school along with Pomme Cloche, Roxbury Russet, Reinette Clochard, De Jaune, Pitmaston Pineapple, and Orleans Reinette. All these guys have yellow flesh and lots of sweets and sours and not much aromatics. They are all fairly similar in taste; I have found Roxbury Russet the most reliable.

My Margil had a big load this year but the squirrels got nearly all. It still has a few so hopefully I will get a harvest. Its a later apple, October if I recall. The tree is stunningly non-vigorous, I thought it was too crammed in so pruned away its neighbors but its still scrawny.

I had good Swaar a long time ago but have only gotten mediocre ones recently. My original graft died and the new one is not yet fruiting so I don't have much in the way of results on it.

So far this year Cherryville Black has been my favorite new apple, it is an early apple that has been hanging well on the tree without going mealy too fast. It is very sweet with a well-balanced flavor. Smallness and mild russet will keep it from ever being a mainstream apple. Akane was excellent-tasting but they rot too much.


    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:36PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Thanks Scott! I was hoping you'd respond on this. Margil being non-vigorous doesn't sound bad, as I'm sure I'll have my hands full containing all these trees in somewhat tight spaces (5-6', not super-tight like you started with). I don't need huge yields from each- just a lot of variety.

I've got both Akane and Ashmead's Kernel (Harvestman recommended) planted, but neither has fruited yet.

Another I considered but reluctantly cut due to scab concerns was White Winter Pearmain (one of your **-ed varieties).

How has the Ribston Pippin performed from a scab/disease perspective?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 10:26PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

The good apples are starting to come in now at the farmer's market. Honeycrisp and Macoun both made their appearance this weekend.

The Honeycrisp were variable both in coloring and brix. I cherry picked the redder ones, but a lot looked under-ripe. The ones I got were pretty good. They ranged from 11 to 13 brix and had their usual snap and juiciness. My daughter surprised me by preferring the 11 brix HC over a 12 brix Braeburn from New Zealand- she said the HC was "stronger".

I got a few Macouns, even though they looked pretty under-ripe to me. I was very pleasantly surprised with the taste and a brix in the 13-13.5 range. The Macoun is on the left and the Honeycrisp on the right.

I also had my first "Ecos Red" apple off the tree. They are all quite small (~2"). This one was 10.5 brix and had a good crunch (seeds were only 70% brown). It had 3-4 spots of bitter pit, which I cut off. I've got another 8 or so on the tree, so I'll give it another week before trying another. But, it very much reminded me of a Mac, so I think I've got an early candidate to graft over.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 11:25PM
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On Cape Cod I had my first Macoun drop from the tree, which they are prone to do.It looked pretty red and when I bit into it it tasted pretty ripe.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 2:59PM
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alan haigh

If Aug Macouns and Honeycrisp taste decent maybe they can work further south.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 7:17PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I wonder if they are ripe so early due to the fast spring, rather than a hotter than usual summer. I checked on the WeatherChannel and compared SW CT vs Atlanta over the last month (when they are ripening). CT was about 5 degrees cooler during the day (82 vs 87) and 7 degrees cooler at night (63 vs 70).

Anyone on here growing these apples in the deep south?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 12:14AM
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alan haigh

Most important factor is bloom date. They flowered almost 3 weeks early this year- insane!. However there seems to be a range of reactions depending on variety, where some must be affected by length of days- angle of sun and not as much by days from bloom. I expect this is why ripening order gets shuffled around to some extent when spring comes earlier or later than average. I've never seen any research on the subject.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 6:11AM
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