Is anyone growing Red Delicious?

ltiltonOctober 16, 2012

I make the heretical statement - I like Red Delicious. When it's fresh and crisp and not huge and old and mushy. I like that perfume it has, I like the sweetness, I like the crunch. It's not my favorite, but when I can get a good one, I say it's a pretty good apple.

Am I totally alone? I went to a nearby orchard a while ago and there were these rows of older trees with huge witches brooms bristling at the top. They were RDs, totally let go because the owners didn't consider them worth pruning.

I suspect there was a RD and YD here before I bought the place, but the RD had recently died. There was a new stump in the area that floods. Sometimes I think of putting in another.

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A friend sent me scion wood from a "Hawkeye", which I understand to be the original RD- and says it is a far cry from the over-red store bought ones. So let's allow for the possibility, at least, that there is room on the collective palate for the variety.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:59PM
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alan haigh

I manage a few old strain trees but I don't know what you mean by perfume. To me it's just straight sugar without aromatics. Newer deep red strains tend to have a cardboard texture. This year provided a very long season so I'm sure RD's sugar was very high, although wildlife finished off most of the later apples I manage- at least those on old trees without protection.

On a normal year, I think old strain RD is pretty mediocre here but it's pretty good when we have a long, warm season. Just doesn't have much character- but that's an entirely subjective evaluation. The important thing is to grow the varieties you love even if many apple fanatics use RD as the butt of derisive jokes. In the quest of red it became undelicious.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:55AM
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I think the mass production of Red Delicious did more damage to apple sells than good in the long run. People got tired of bland flavor and poor texture. Store bought Gala is just as bad. It looks good but zip for flavor

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 7:45AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I lived for 40 years in the Pajaro valley of California one of the prime apple growing areas. This was during and after world war two. The government was the big fresh apple buyer at the time and would only buy red apples. They claimed soldiers would not eat any apple not RED. Many farmers planted the double red Delicious to get as much color as possible. Most farmers will grow what sells, regardless of his own opinion of the quality of the fruit. Al

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 8:37AM
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If I were thinking about getting an RD, is there a specific cultivar people would recommend?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:49AM
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Yes I have a red delicious in my collection of 20 fruit trees. I did not plant it, it was there when I took over the site. It is very red but not delicious. I keep it for
the horses. My youngest daughter wants them to take to the stable when she does her riding lessions. This is the best use I have for these apples or feed them to the pigs.

I also love a good red delicious. The issue is many different strains out there and most are worthless. I recall one orchard I worked at during my college days had
5 different strains of REd Delicious in production. At that time we sold red delicious for a premium price, they
would have to be called the Honeycrisp of their day.

I enjoyed a strain called 'Red Prince' sold by Hilltop Nursery in Michigan. Sadly it was not red but orange and
striped. The orchard owner hated it for its color but the
flavor was fantastic. The other one I enjoyed is the Hawkeye strain with poor color but a thin skin and great
flavor. I found Red Chief to be the worst (at least in my area). Perhaps Red Chief is better in Western climates but
no flavor here.

I had the chance to bud Richard's Red delicious a few years
ago. I should have taken it while available. This is a very old strain but I did not have the opportunity to taste
the fruit. Anyone out there ever taste this strain?

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)

I have had some Red Delicious that are pretty good (crunchy, sweet, juicy) at local u-pick orchards in Julian, CA. It is not one of my favorite apples since it doesn't have any acidity or tartness to it.

I did plant a Red Delicious (Bisbee Spur) last winter in Julian, CA. My wife and most of her family prefer sweet fruit without any acidity.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:10PM
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alan haigh

Hawkeye RD is available at some nurseries that specialize in heirlooms. I bought one a few years back, but the tree got girdled. Because some of the ones I manage are so old- at least 80 years I think, it is likely they are the original strain but I don't know. They are certainly much better and more stripey than newer strains. More tender a skin and sweeter. A bit like Fuji. They do have a beautiful shape.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 6:35PM
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When living in the Bay Area I lived near an abandoned RD orchard. The trees would get no water through the summer and no pruning or pesticides, but it being CA they produced unblemished apples that were pure sugar. I liked those, I must say. Perhaps it was because they were free, and I did not have a lot of money.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 9:02PM
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I found a "Hawkeye" Delicious at an old mountain orchard, and they're wonderful. I'll give people a slice and have them try to guess what it is, and they always ask for another but still can't guess it, and then are shocked when they find out. I can see why RD beat it out marketing-wise, as the color can't even compare. But for flavor, it is a completely different apple.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:13PM
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The RD shape is really distinctive.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:21PM
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alan haigh

It sounds like another apple that greatly benefits from reduced irrigation-therefore not reliably good in the humid regions. No irrigation in an abandoned CA orchard- no wonder they were good!

Even here in southeastern NY they often produce decent apples without spray.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 7:01AM
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Any chance you work with Applewood in Warwick? I picked apples there two weeks ago and they had some type of RD apple (not really sure what kind but looked like RD with the bumps on the bottom). It was in the back behind the pond (furthest from the pumpkin area) I am no apple expert at all but they were really good. My only problem is that they dont label the rows so i dont always know what i am picking.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 1:15PM
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just curious; if the rd appeal was it being red, why wasn't the Rome more popular? Now there's a red apple! & if the Romes in the stores are any guide, they just as bad, or good, as rd.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:25PM
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alan haigh

Queens, I don't work much on that side of the Hudson nor that far south. Haven't been in Warwick for years and never to that orchard. The only commercial orchard that is currently selling apples where I work the trees and do some consultation is Thompson's Cider Mill in Ossining, NY.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 2:59PM
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Thanks. That is a little far for me to go picking :)

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 3:08PM
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That's a good question; Red Rome stinks compared to the original Rome Beauty pictured (from the same mountain orchard), not even CLOSE to the zippy, spicy flavor of a just picked Rome Beauty. Red Rome is all you'll find in the store now, but it never garnered nearly the attention of Red Delicious.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2012 at 11:00PM
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I understand that the breeders are now trying to redden Fuji.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 10:47AM
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alan haigh

There are regularly new sports of Fuji discovered by commercial growers. I suspect most of the redder RD's were discovered in the same way, where a single branch mutates into a more "desirable" strain and the grower decides to go for a patent. Don't blame the breeders!

Some of the bad strains are also selected for their highly spurring habit, which can lead to fewer leaves feeding more fruit, and thus diluting taste of fruit, I believe.

I actually prefer the taste of a couple of the newer, redder strains of Jonagold to the original. Redder can be better- more flavenoids.

The original Red Delicious was not the product of breeding but was instead a chance seedling that was submitted to a contest held by Stark Bros. nursery, I think about 100 years ago. They judged it the best apple out of many entries and I assume they patented it immediately.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Starks now only seems to sell the spur-type RDs.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Look in the Stark's print catalog rather than the online version. I think they still carry the "original" Red Delicious.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 1:26AM
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They have the "Starkrimson" RD, but the description says it's a spur-type tree.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 10:30AM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I won't buy red delicious from the market, but I have one branch of red delicious on a multi-graft tree that is quite good. Very crisp, nice aroma, lovely flavor. I don't have a clue what variety it is.

I'm going to guess that a lot of the problem with the delicious in the market is because of shipping, storage, and handling. Fresh picked off the tree, mine is excellent.

When I was a child, there were some small red delicious that were quite striped in color, and those were good apples. I haven't seen any of those in decades.

I ordered 5 Hawkeye bench grafts and only one took. I sure hope that one survives, because I am very anxious to taste the Hawkeye, hoping it is like the small stripped apple I remember from my childhood.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:48PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I'm going to add that I think that shipping and handling ruins a lot of apple varieties.

I was surprised at how good my home raised Granny Smiths are. That's not a good apple from the market. My Fuji and Yellow Delicious are nothing like grocery store apples.

I don't like Gala from the market, but the sole gala off my young tree was lovely.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 7:52PM
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