Questions from a novice... apples

emorems0(PA - 6a)September 10, 2013

I don't know much about apples (other than how to use them), but I just discovered we have a mature apple tree on our property and so I'm here with questions for this season and next.

First, I'm wondering what kind of apples these are... they are small, a sort of rustic reddish with a little yellow/green. Seem to be ripening now in zone 6 (although, our pears ripened almost a full month earlier this year than the did the past two years, so the apples could have been earlier than normal too. They are nicely crisp, sweet and a little tart. They are white inside and don't seem to brown very quickly after cut.

Second question - I juiced a bunch of these apples the other day and after it sat for a while there was some white-ish, chalky pulp/sediment that settled out of it. The cider was excellent as long as I didn't shake up and reincorporate the chalky sediment. After the juice experience, I began to notice a bit of a chalky aftertaste when eating the apples fresh as well. I've read that unripe apples can have a chalky taste, but these seem ripe... they are sweet, red, and dropping off the tree on their own. I did 'pull' a few from the tree, but it didn't take enough effort that I would think they weren't ripe.

Last question, what can I do to improve my apple crop for next year? I don't know the first thing about growing fruit trees. There are a ton of dead branches that I assume should be pruned off, and we just had a tree fall in front of this one that opens it up to the sun a little more (which is how I discovered this tree after two years of not knowing it was an apple tree). I'd like to stick with organic methods.

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Your fruit looks pretty good. It has something called Sooty Blotch that doesn't hurt anything but does detract from the appearance.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Since your did not mention any problem with your tree i.e. leaves, trunk, etc. I assume your tree is in a good shape.

One suggestion for you is to thin your apples next year. Do it when they are small like a dime size. A cluster of apple flowers usually bear 5 little apples. The biggest one in the middle is called king fruit. People usually leave the king fruit and thin out the rest. If there are clusters too closer to one another, take some off.

A mature tree like yours probably bears a lot of fruit. Thin at least 60-70% off. Thinning will improve the quality and the size of the fruit. Exposing the tree to more sun will help with fruit quality and reduce chances of fungal diseases.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 10:13PM
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emorems0(PA - 6a)

Thank you, it's a big tree and it does seem healthy, despite it's location in scrub brush. The dead tree fall in front of it really helped to open it up to the sun and I plant to get rid of as much of the surrounding scrub brush as I can for next year. It is FULL of apples, thanks for the advice on thinning. It does have some dead lower branches that I'll trim off, what's the best time of year to do that? Fall?

Also, just bumping for the first two questions... any idea what type of apples these are?

Any idea what the deal is with the chalky sediment in my cider?

Thanks :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 10:47PM
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Sorry can't answer your two questions. Maybe, someone with more experience will.

Dead and diseased wood can be trimmed out anytime. I guess "the surrounding scrub brush" is the suckers at the base of your apple tree? I'd get rid of them, too.

In late winter, you can see the whole tree clearly and can trim your tree more to shape up your tree then (some prune in the dead of the winter, no problem). Get rid of crossed branches and water sprouts (straight up shoots from branches). Lots of people prune in the winter and in the summer.

Google "bagging apples" on this forum. You may want to try doing that to your apples on reachable lower branches. You'll be amazed how you can have unblemished apples with no spray. It's time consuming but is worth it. You need to do it when apples are as small (a dime size, for me) and before insects start attacking young apples.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 6:55AM
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mjmarco(Zone 6 Upstate NY)

Looks like a Cortland apple? Buy on at a farm stand and compair.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:48AM
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