My last tree... Ashmead's Kernel or Newtown Pippin?

megamav(5a - NY)August 7, 2013

So, I've got some rootsuckers coming up 15 feet away from my frankencrab and I have been contemplating which variety to graft to it.

Initially I was set on Newtown Pippin, but today it dawned on me that my growing season might not be long enough to get a high quality crop yearly. So I started searching and was contemplating many different varieties, some of which I've never eaten before which is dangerous.

St. Edmund's Russet
Egremont Russet
Golden Nugget

So, I kept combing thru books and I finally caved into the thought of having Ashmead's Kernel in the ring of consideration.

So, Im looking for the opinions of those who are growing both of have grown both in the past.

Im interested to hear about tree vigor, disease issues (fireblight, bitter pit), harvest dates, any general advice.

This tree would be grafted in the sunniest spot in my yard, the only reason im doing this is because the rootsuckers are attached to an old and vigorous tree. So vigorous, that my Belle de Boskoop graft that didnt start leafing until mid May has put on 5 feet of growth. I think I could have a fully grown tree pretty quick and possibly avoid the slow start Ashmeads and Newtown Pippin often have..

I have some concerns about my season and harvesting too late.
I'll make it short here, we get our first 25 degree freeze on average very close to November 1st. 50% of the time its the week or so before, 50% of the time its within the 2 weeks after.

Samascott Orchards here grows both of these about an hour south of me. Ashmeads is usually picking around early to mid October and Newtown Pippin is usually picked after the farm is closed for pick your own, usually in November.

I get significantly less sun in my yard once Septermber rolls around due to a pair of white pines in my south side neighbor's yard. So im thinking the Newtown Pippin may not ripen enough with that much shade. It would get about 9-12:30PM sun then 1:30PM to 4PM sun AT MOST after September starts. Previous to September its 8-4:30 sun, uninterrupted.

Im a newbie to apple crops, and im wondering what kind of effect the Sun has on ripening if its diminished in intensity and quantity for that long of a period of time before maturity.

Should I stick to Ashmead's Kernel because it ripens faster or go for the winter apple in Newtown PIppin and risk a hard frozen apple crop hanging on the tree?

Both are great apples in their own right.
Anything can be regrafted, but getting it right from the get-go would be nice.
What would you do? the M7 stock is growing...


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The only bit of advice I can give is as follows:

1) There is no "last tree" in gardening :D

2) Plant what people and reliable sources say will do best in your climate

3) Most importiant, make sure youve tasted the apple and that you actually enjoy the taste

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 9:39AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I'd go with Ashmead's Kernel:
1.) More disease resistant (some resistance to Scab and CAR vs some susceptibility across the board). I should note that I see plenty of CAR on my AK, but it hasn't caused a problem.

2.) AK's strong rich flavor per Harvestman and others.

3.) Potential ripening issues you've noted. I've had Newton Pippin from 2 farmer's market vendors. Eating right away, it wasn't very good (10-11 brix without much flavor). They improved with storage, but still weren't great. Later, I managed to find some ripe one with a bit of blush and they were much better (14-15 brix, good flavor with a sweet aftertaste). So, from what I gathered last year, these improve greatly when fully ripe. Maybe someone with a longer experience (HM grows these per his post the other day) can comment.

I've got 2 AK planted (one this year, one last year) and a potted plant which may be AK. The potted one was a tree from 2011 which never leafed out above the graft union, which I subsequently (after that year) dug up and potted. The growth is coming exactly from the union point, so I'm not sure if the apples I see this year are M27 or AK. They appear russeted, so I have reason to be hopeful. From the picture I found online, M27 has small yellow apples.

The in-ground AK hasn't been very preciousness for me. Of the 10 dwarf apples from Cummins I planted in 2012, all but AK and Erwin Bauer flowered and 7 fruited (Pome Gris flowered too late), though some of that fruit has been lost to critters.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:43AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Im not all that worried about precociousness.
Im grafting onto a M7 rootstock, about 60-70% of standard.
It will probably crop a lot of apples for my personal use.
This is my 5th tree, and 4 of them are half standards or larger. M7, G.202, G.30.

I have tasted Ashmead's Kernel and Newtown Pippin thru various phases of ripeness, Ashmeads impressed me more with flavor, but Newtown Pippin is a better keeper and would add a sour type apple to the mix as well as a superior pollinator for the other trees.

I just cant bring myself to graft a variety as late as Newtown Pippin and have any realistic expectations that it will be as good as I could hope for. I have no space to waste as this is the last tree I can put in the yard that gets enough sun to produce well. I blame my neighbor and her precious white pines (POS trees). Ahhh the suburbs... I digress.

Newtown Pippin is a borderline apple an hour south of here, I cant see how I could expect it to work where I am. Ashmeads Kernel appears to be a more realistic option for where I am.

Reading about other varieties, Erwin Bauer, Abbondanza, Razor Russet, Bonne Hotture, Orin. None of them seem to trump the Ashmead's Kernel despite its shyness and being a Triploid.

This post was edited by megamav on Thu, Aug 8, 13 at 22:55

    Bookmark   August 8, 2013 at 10:42PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I went through my Newton Pippin records from last year:

9/29- Mild and not very good 11 brix
10/13- First apple was blushed and quite good 14-15 brix. 2nd was blushed, but not sweet at all, with only 10-11. Looks like there is plenty of variance with this type.
11/10- 12-15 brix. More uniformly good

Yes, I really keep notes on this...the above is actually a short version...

Keep in mind that last year had a record warm spring and everything was ~3 weeks early. It is also in a climate 1.5 zones warmer (southern CT), than where you are located. But, if you are able to keep them growing into November and get lucky with a warm, frost-free spring, I think you could get some good ones. The other years will probably be crunchy, but without much flavor. Maybe they get better with longer keeping, though I had some after more than a month which were still only OK.

Rather than investing in a whole tree of it, why not make another multi-graft? Maybe start with AK and graft a few branches of NP onto it. After all, it's a pretty large rootstock, so you can get plenty of 2-3 types. My one near-full size rootstock has 10 varieties growing on it now (grafted this spring) and I'm trying to bud a few more.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 12:58AM
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alan haigh

My Ashmead was frozen out last year and yet it is the only tree in my entire orchard not loaded with fruit- there may be 2 apples in the entire tree.

And yet the bastid is immune to my ax- so distinctive is the flavor. But then, I have a lot of room and it has been reasonably reliable until this year (actually until last year, but half my apples were barren then). I hope it is wise enough to deliver next season or its immunity may be finished-not to the ax but to the grafting tools.

My Newtown has not been all that reliable either, although its loaded this year. I turned it into 50% Pink Lady as a warning. This year I'll see how PL does in a relatively short season.

(By the way, best northeast growing season ever! I am in fruit growers paradise pinching myself every morning. It's like having an orchard in Sonoma County, CA. but with a sky irrigation system that mostly goes on at night)

Doesn't Samascott grow a tremendous range of varieties- I think that's the orchard that a client of mine (planted her trees last year) raves about. She's in Canaan, NY. They must know best keepers for your climate.

A very reliable and high quality apple is old strain Stayman which keeps well in refrigeration. I do prefer a good Newtown, though. I like my apples hard and dense.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 5:57AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I haven't had a lot of experience with Ashmead since the deer kept munching it back for years, it was in their path. But my favorite russets are the more nutty types, not the more sour ones. So, get Swayzie or Pomme Gris if you prefer nutty to sour. I don't have many seasons of fruit on the former due to a fireblight loss but the latter has been reliable in spite of being in a low sun spot.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 8:17AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Bob, thanks for your notes.
I think I've just been talked out of Newtown Pippin, thanks for saving me the frustration of hoping for a long season to get a decent crop. I remember eating them in February, and they had the texture and juice of a fresh apple, but the flavor just wasnt there for me either. Im wondering if this apple gets all of the publicity due to its southern influences.

Harvestman, here is the list of what apples Samascott grows on their farm. Its a just a gigantic, well plotted farm in a beautiful town called Kinderhook. I've only been there for 1 season, last season they were closed due to the killer frost. Varieties with a asterisk (*) are varieties I've personally tasted.

â Akane*
Ashmead's Kernel*
Autumn Crisp*
Candy Crisp*
Calville Blanc*
Cox's Orange*
Crimson Crisp
Crimson Topaz
Esopus Spitzenburg*
Fortune (NY 429)*
Geneva Early
Ginger Gold*
Golden Delicious*
Golden Russet*
Granny Smith*
Ida Red
Lady Apple
â Melba
Mollie's Delicious
Newton Pippin*
Northern Spy*
NY 428
NY 460
NY 543
NY 652
Paula Red
Pink Delight
Pink Lady
Pink Pearl*
Red Delicious
Rome Beauty
Roxbury Russet*
Scarlet Surprise
Stayman Winesap
Summer Treat
Tydeman Red
Vista Bella
Winter Banana


I read a few historical anecdotes by you of Pomme Grise. You mention its similar to Golden Russet. I love Golden Russet, but not the bug and fireblight problems I've seen it have. Does the fruit keep long like Golden Russet? Any biennial problems with thinning? When do you usually harvest the crop? Vigorous tree?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 9:57AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hmm, that must have been an old note of mine. The Golden Russets I had a long time ago were the English version which is in the nutty and not sour camp. I didn't have the names straight for awhile. The US one is in the sour camp. So, Pomme Grise is not like (US) Golden Russet. It also has no bug problems at all, perfect apples every time for me. It has less sugars than GR, thats the only downside of it.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 10:11AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

markmt (another thread) and bob_z6 have made great points and I think im going to roll with it.

Make a 4 in 1 or a 3 in 1 tree again with only russets.
The tree would look like this grafted...

Golden Russet
Pomme Gris
Ashmeads Kernel

Leave the tip bearing, fireblight jerk at the top. In case I need to cut it out, I wouldnt have to chop more tree out than I need to. I would have to graft it every year to get a tree to look like this, but it would be a pretty awesome tree in the end.

Any other russet recommends?

Others that interest me:

Egremont Russet - Keeper?
Roxbury Russet - Had it, not quite as good as Golden Russet
St. Edmund's Russet - Would be a nice earlier russet.
Razor Russet - Tip bearing?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 1:33PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

BTW Scott,

I also found this in your notes:

+++Pomme Gris - This is a great russet, has a coconut-like texture and delicate flavor. Better than Golden Russet for fresh eating. Skin holds up very well and no bug damage, the fruits looks perfect.

Thats a huge statement.
In my mind Golden Russet is really REALLY tough to beat.
Like Freyberg, I'll hold you to it. :)

Did you get your Pomme Gris scions from USDA?

This post was edited by megamav on Fri, Aug 9, 13 at 14:05

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:03PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)


What other apples have you grown with similar sugar levels to Golden Russet? I checked it out on Ars-grin and Pomme Grise had 17 vs 21 for GR.

According to ars-grin, most of the high-brix apples are very small. I've highlighted a few full size (well >50g, at least not tiny) ones with over 18.2%. I eliminated several which appear to be mis-labeled, based on the pictures. Sol Solids Size Name Comments 26.3 100-150g Grosse Launette French Cider apple- could be interesting 23 >400g Kokko From the pics, it doesn't look 400g (maybe 100). Also called soft. Scion not avail. 22.6 50-100g Pitmaston Pineapple X 692 French bred. In 3 different year's notes it is called Astringent, sub-acid, and acid. 21.6 50-100g Peau d'Ane French russeted apple. Looks interesting. 21.5 50-100g Hyslop Crab Sometimes 21.3 50-100g Pitmaston Pine Apple I've got 2 apples on my tree (the groundhog got 3-4 others). They describe it as "poor to good" and "not productive. Small, worthless". 21.2 150-200g Golden Russet I added a Golden Russet tree this spring 21.1 100-150g Ross Nonpareil I grafted this in the spring. Related to Scotts Old Nonpareil? 21 100-150g KAZ 96 07-06 Astringent and no longer available 20.6 50-100g Bouteille 1801 German type, "very tender, white; flavor sweet subacid, perfumed" 20.5 50-100g Altaiski Sweet From USSR. Sometimes 19.6 50-100g Chestnut Crab "Crisp, juicy, sweet flesh with a pleasing nut like flavor". "Cedar-apple rust resistant. No disease problems" 19 50-100g KAZ 96 08-13 Seed collected in Kazakhstan:"aromatic...Free of disease. Heavy codling moth, largest fruit so far." 19 100-150g Court Pendu Plat I planted one of these this spring. "flavor sweet, rich, perfumed...Excellent dessert apple. Pick late. Keeps until April. " 18.9 100-150g Sweet Alford English cider apple. "not highly productive; extremely susceptible to fire blight" 18.7 50-100g GMAL 1522.a1 Wild apple from South Korea. A bit too small at 4-5 cm. 18.7 >400g Reinette do Chenee Flat French apple 18.6 150-200g Laxton's Superb "Cox type flavor" 18.4 50-100g Golden Harvey English from 1600's. "flavor sweet, rich, aromatic; season late to very late" 18.4 200-250g Lemoen From Netherlands. "skin yellow with some russet; flesh soft, coarse, pale cream; flavor sweet, perfumed; harvest season late" 18.4 250-300g Bogo Belle de Boskoop Red version of Belle De Boskoop. I have a Red Boskoop, which had apples for the first time until the critters got them. 18.2 100-150g Wellington Bloomless I'm not sure how it is pollinated, as "blossoms devoid of petals". Acid apple. Very early. 18.2 >400g Blahova Ruzena From Czech republic. Hard, sweet.

Maybe I'll see if they will send me a few of the scions. Grosse Launette, Peau d'Ane, and KAZ 96 08-13 look particularly interesting.

This post was edited by bob_z6 on Fri, Aug 9, 13 at 14:35

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 2:27PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Of the 4 you mentioned at the end, I have:

Egremont Russet - A few apples on the tree. A lot cracked this year due to the heavy rains.

Roxbury Russet - 3 growing on a very small tree. I may have runted it out by leaving a fruit on it last year when I planted it.

St. Edmund's Russet - Just planted this spring.

This post was edited by bob_z6 on Fri, Aug 9, 13 at 22:38

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 3:03PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


After doing some reading im going to consider Ross Nonpareil for a graft this coming year on the current frankencrab to see how it does. Sounds pretty much up my alley, sweet/tart, russet, and keeps thru March/April.

Interesting searching in the USDA GRIN database.

Soluble Solids greater than 17
Fruit Weight greater than 100 grams
Harvest Season after Delicious


PI 589892 Golden Russet
PI 590141 Ross Nonpareil

Im wondering if the Ross Nonpareil will keep as long as the Golden Russet with similar sugar levels.

I'll withhold on the current new grafting project with it though.
By the time I get to the 3rd graft (the top), I'll probably have a crop of the Ross Nonpareil and judge its keeping then, it could be a good substitute for Golden Russet. Its even a diploid.

This is crazy, how fast you can change your mind with new information. I love Golden Russet, but I cant deal with the tip bearing habit and the fireblight, even up here in Upstate New York.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 5:44PM
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alan haigh

I don't know how American Golden Russet can be in any way considered sour. It is sugar sweet when fully ripe- sweet as they come in my experience. Still it is interesting, dryish and syrupy although not a top apple to my palate. Of old northeastern varieties I prefer a really good Baldwin- more refreshing!

Another appealing russet is Hudson's Golden Gem. North of me it might do better as far as plant bugs and it's not too late- a bit ahead of Golden Russet from my somewhat limited experience with it.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2013 at 6:00PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


Its been a couple of years since I've had a Golden Russet, due to Samascott's fun with the freeze last year, but I can say you're right, not straight off the tree however. I do think it is tart but not sour off the tree. After a few weeks in cold store it becomes almost a syrup apple. Very little tartness, somewhat juicy, not a lot but a load of sugars. Overripe pear juice soaked in honey and sugar. I'd describe it as rich to the point of thick.

It really good, because in the winter, you're unlikely to get something fresh with that amount of sweetness. It keeps and its a treat.

For my grafting project, I've decided to go with Pomme Gris to start and top the tree off with Ross Nonpareil.

Diploids, keepers, both bloom close together, ripen in early to mid October.
I doubt I'll be able to try them before I graft, they dont seem all that common.
Im fine with that. Good enuf.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:08PM
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alan haigh

I have a client with a small commercial cider mill and orchard that cherishes his many Golden Russets for cider. Their relative dryness means the juice is exceptionally sweet (much less juice per bin than other types of apples) . His other most important apple is the tart Northern Spy which blends very well with GR to make a superior cider.

Here Golden Russet can get extremely sweet right on the tree if you wait until late Oct. Our growing season usually begins about 10 days ahead of yours, I'd guess.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 1:01PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Bob, Chestnut and Wickson are excellent high-sugar crabs. Pitmaston Pineapple is a very good apple, I'm not sure why their description was so negative. It is a yellow school apple but the most sweet and flavorful of all of them. Clochard is another very sweet yellow school, Court Pendu Plat is also yellow school; all of the yellow school are sweet. Reinette de Chenee I don't remember being super sweet; it was a good apple but I pulled it to make room. Other sweet apples are Hawaii and Rubinette.

Eric, I don't think Ross Nonpareil and Old Nonpareil are related other than in name. I never tried Ross Nonpareil and I don't remember why not.

Hman, Golden Russet is not as sour as e.g. Roxbury but its sour compared to Pomme Gris. I am surprised someone is using half GR and half Spy, that is more acid than I would try. I am now doing a malo-lactic fermentation on a half GR half Euro (low acid) cider apple batch, it was far too sour but fortunately the MLF is decreasing the acidity and I think it will come out nicely.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:35PM
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alan haigh

Scott, Golden Russet is practically acid free to my tastes- makes a syrupy sweet cider by itself. N. Spy adds some sour but he adds a lot of other varieties in his mix. I'm talking sweet cider, of course.

He also uses a lot of Ida Reds and Mutsus in the mix. His product has a lively flavor that people drive out of their way to purchase. You can look at his Web site if you google Thompson Cider Mill, Ossining, NY.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:08PM
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megamav(5a - NY)


I see there is a difference and I'm OK with that.
I gotta grow something that others dont, right?

I'm going with Ross Nonpareil due to the relatively good reputation and the high Brix when ripe. It keeps and its a diploid. Bonus!

I've been reading multiple sources of growers that state Pomme Gris is superior in flavor to Egremont, Roxbury and Golden. Pretty high esteem.


Thanks for your recommendation of it, we'll see how it goes, I may not have enough stock wood to graft onto this coming spring, so it may be a delayed project for the year after.

I'll order both from Geneva the same year, and hold the Ross Nonpareil over on the Frankencrab until the Pomme Gris is ready to graft onto.

Any report on how well the Pomme Gris keeps for you?
I've seen blossom times all over the board, early and late dates.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:29PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Oh Eric I forgot to say where I got Pomme Gris from. Originally it was a tree from Cummins. It is not a long keeper based on my experience.

Hman, I don't know why GR is not sour for you, its always been sour for me. I know of that Thompson cider place, his brother is a friend of mine. Small world :-)


    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 1:18PM
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alan haigh

Scott, that is a mystery to me as well. I recall descriptions as syrupy sweet with juice consistently described as very sugary. Beach isn't very descriptive on this one, only describing it as pleasingly sub-acid which to me means, "not at all a tart".

Beach mentions that there seem to be many variants of Russet sold as Golden Russet, sometimes distinguished by prefixing with something like Massachusettes Golden Russet. He suggests that for all practical purposes American and English Golden Russet are the same variety, or, I guess, several very similar varieties.

Whatever Adams sells is the one I mostly grow. I also manage a 100 year old tree of it and grafted on Adam's variety- this year I will compare the two if I get the chance.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 2:15PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I've had the same experience as Harvestman and Eric with Golden Russet. It's been a very sweet apple for me (from farmers market and Averill Farm). The sweetest were from Averill Farm over an hour North of me in Western CT. They had 18-21.8 brix and were possibly the best apples I've had (top 3 at least).

I wonder if there is some confusion about English Golden Russet vs American? It's easy for such a distinction to get lost and the subsequent tree propagated. I've actually used two different sources for Golden Russet- Cummins for a tree and Maple Valley for some scionwood. Both were just added this spring, so it could be a while before I can compare.

Thanks for the mention of Thompson's cider mill Harvestman. Even though I have a lot more apples coming in this year, I may still make one or two drives out.

What made me think that there could be a relationship between "Old" and "Ross" Nonpareil is that they seem to share the same qualities, small, yellow/russeted, sugary. But, on closer inspection, I see that they have different sources (1802 in Ireland for Ross and 1600's Britian for Old). Since they appear to be different and you've given it high scores, I'll probably add one next spring. Though I may have enough apples, with 32 in-ground and another 20ish potted (many new rootstocks).

This post was edited by bob_z6 on Sun, Aug 11, 13 at 15:16

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 3:13PM
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