I have about 50 orders of apple seeds, scions and pollen ready to ship out! It’s pretty neat to send all that interesting genetic material out into the world to proliferate. Here are a few notes on using and storing them. If you dont’ want to watch the whole thing, here is a video index to each and other useful videos and series’ are embedded below:
One of my main interests when it comes to collecting and breeding apple varieties is the very late hanging/ripening types. I’ll be heard to proselytize about them frequently and I am not sure why everyone else is not as excited about them as I am. While most would normally think of winter apples as being eaten out of storage, certain varieties can be ripened and held on the tree through at least all of January assuming the climate is suitable. This video is a walkaround checking out what is still hanging as well as tasting the remaining late ripening seedling apples from the breeding trials. I wrote a whole post about late hangers, but I decided to put off posting it until I can make a video that makes an argument for growing them more, ferreting more of them out, and beginning to test the climatic limits of hanging late fruit. Clearly there is going to be a cold limit and folks in places like Michigan will not be able to grow them. But chances are that they can be taken advantage of in much of Cascadia, the southern belt east to west, and other places that you can’t go ice fishing without falling through. Not doubt too there are going to be varieties that are more durable to the cold than others. Unfortunately, many of these late hanging varieties are quite rare and I usually have very limited scion wood available. I will have some this year, quite a bit of some of them and none of others. Scion sales will begin soon and I’ll post when they are available.
I had quite a few new apple seedlings fruit this year. Some were still not ripe as of December 10th, while others were over ripe. The overview is that none of them seem super promising, though there are about 4 I’ll be keeping my eye on for the next few years. One had pretty strongly red flesh, several had very light blushing and one was approaching 50% pink mottling. The percentage of apples that come up with some red flesh, may be approaching 30%, but most of those just have a light blush here and there. Many of those that fruited this year are Lady Williams offspring, as those seem to be more inclined toward early fruiting. Some of those are definitely not ripe yet, because Lady Williams is super late ripening and most of them seem to have inherited that trait.
The most interesting are:
Grenadine x Goldrush cross measuring at 25% sugar
Grenadine x Goldrush cross, which has the deepest red flesh, medium sized and very attractive it measures at 21% sugar.
A small Rubaiyat x Wickson cross, also 25% sugar.
And a Grenadine x Golden Russet cross, which picked up a little of Golden Russet’s rusetty flavors, but not a lot.
of those, only the first was probably picked the best time, the rest being picked late as I had some dental trouble right about when they should have been picked and tested. As a result they were about 3 weeks over-ripened on the tree.
While I didn’t find any of these super compelling (more like potentially interesting) it has to be kept in mind that they could improve going forward. For one, the conditions they are growing under are awful. They are very crowded, often shaded and with very little food or water. It’s like a disaster camp in there! As I start to cull some of the trees, it will make room for the remaining ones. Any apples that seem very promising, I will probably eventually graft out onto an established tree, to give them more of a chance to grow and produce fruit that could be closer to reaching their full potential. Another factor is that as grafts or new trees mature, they seem to often start producing better fruit. Hopefully next year I’ll get to taste these again, and better samples of them, along with more new varieties that have not come into fruit yet.
Spoiler Alert, BITE ME Delivers the Goods! Early Oct 2018 Apple Variety Taste Testing, With New Seedling Apples
In my latest apple tasting, Sunrise and my own seedling BITE ME! rose to the top of the heap out of 18 tested. I also taste tested 3 new seedlings, out of which one is decidedly mediocre, one pretty good and one incredibly sweet, even though it is still ripening. Some others were bad others I am ambivalent about.
Rubinette: Intense anise flavor this year with high flavor, sugar and good acid balance. I am still not a big fan of this one for whatever reasons, but it’s very popular. If I approached apple tasting analytically for the most part, I might like it more, but I don’t, and I don’t.
Norcross Red Flesh: Got this from apple collector Nick Botners some years back. It is not very good. Light, juicy, tender, barely any red flesh, low sugar, low flavor.
Sunrise: This was one of the stars of the show in this tasting. Everything comes together really well in this apple. Very juicy, very crisp, good sugar levels, good acid/sugar balance, unoffensive skin and mild, but tasty flavors. More of a modern crisp type of apple than anything else in this tasting. It’s downfall may be a lack of distinctive flavor, but I want to eat them and that’s the best acid test.
Reinette Thounin: I got this from the USDA I believe. It is a true spitter. Totally inedible, bitter, tannic, low sugar. Honestly doesn’t even seem suited to cider, maybe just for the tannins.
Zabergau Reinette: Pretty good, always kind of tart, dry flesh, interesting but not sensational flavor. Could take it or leave it. Alleged to improve in storage.
St. Edmund Pippin: This one was no good when tasted a couple of weeks ago off of another branch on another tree. This time, some small stunted apples off of another tree were quite good, juicy and crunchy enough, with nice flavor and no discernible pear taste like the last ones had.
Tydeman’s Red: Or so it’s labelled, unconfirmed. Large lopsided apple. Open texture, juicy, crisp, tasty enough, more like a cooker and seems like it’s probably great for sauce.
Sweet 16: This year has none of the beloved cherry and almond flavors, but it has anise flavor that is seriously all up in your face. Not my favorite flavor. This apple can really vary drastically from year to year.
Mannington Pearmain: This apple has always cracked badly, but this year it didn’t too much. It’s not very good though and I still won’t keep it. It’s not bad, just not anything I’d recommend for any use.
Saltcote Pippin: the presentation is a little thin, lowish sugar and fairly acid. Good flavor though. probably would be a good sauce apple.
Coe’s Golden Drop: Intense candy flavor, said by some to be “pear drop”. Definitely does have a pear taste, but with more going on too, making it a very singular apple. It is small, dry, hard fleshed, tannic, thick rough skin, and still very intriguing. I think better specimens are coming down the pipe as it ripens more.
Peace Garden: small, stripped red apple. Outstandingly boring in every way.
Seedling, Grenadine x ? (proably Goldrush) 11/4: Kind of boring, a bit tannic, nothing really very wrong with it, just a generic yellow apple. Probably will not make the grade
Seedling, Grenadine x Goldrush, 11/17: A very healthy looking seedling that stood out for scab free, healthy green foliage early in the season. Apples are small for the most part, fairly round, often with flesh protruding out of the stem well, like an outy belly button. Small speckles, yellow skin. Flesh is fine grained and a little chewy. Flavor unremarkable yellow apple flavor. Sugar seems very high! As it is chewed, the fine chewy flesh gradually releases a rising flood of sugar. It also still had a bit of starchiness to it, so the sugar will probably continue to rise even further. Thanks to Mike of Walla Walla’s contributions to my apple breeding project fund, I just purchased a brix refractometer. That measures dissolved solids, which in fruit juice is more or less indicative of the sugar content. So, I’ll get to test this apple next week.
Seedling, BITE ME!: This was the first apple I ever fruited. Read more about BITE ME! here. In this tasting it is probably tied with Sunrise for me, though Bite me has the more interesting flavor for sure, Sunrise is a very pleasant eating experience and has outstanding texture. I’m thinking a Wickson Sunrise cross could be good. Mild flavors as always, with the special crab flavor component inherited from it’s mother Wickson. Any specific analysis and description aside, I want to stuff them in my face and chew them up to get that awesome flavor out. Sugary and low acid, thin skin. Flesh texture can tend toward what is called melting in fruit tasting terminology, or kind of chewy and tender. At least this one was. The downside to BITE ME! is probably going to be apple scab, which is had very bad last year.
Seedling, Wickson, OP, 2010: Red skin, very pretty, with crazing, like the surface of an old cracked oil painting. It has watercore this year, which makes it hard to test. The bits I found without watercore were not super remarkable, though perfectly good. As a small apple, it kind of needs to perform very well as a dessert apple to justify it’s existence, unless it’s some kind of amazing cider apple. Not as promising as I thought earlier in the season. I’ll give it a couple more years and hopefully it will outgrow the watercore.
I hope to have scions of some of my best apples available in the web-store this winter.
The Venerated Golden Harvey, A Late Keeping, Heirloom, Dessert and Cider Apple of Alleged Surpassing Quality
I have spent a lot of time researching apples. I used to spend hour after hour searching online for references in old books and magazines. I keep notes and quotes which I still add to occasionally. Of the more exciting and intriguing apples I ran across was the Golden Harvey, aka Brandy Apple. Since I started doing this type of research online, there are even more references that have been scanned and digitized. Below are the relevant references I’ve found on the Golden Harvey, which I’m making available here with links to the original texts in the hopes of saving some others the time it takes to dig up this stuff. There are a lot of them, more than can be found for most apple varieties.
Aside from the apple in question, there are a few references comparing it to others, and most interesting, some references to it’s several offspring. A certain Mr. Knight seems to have been very taken with the Golden Harvey and a few other varieties, and used it in breeding new sorts. Most of those offspring are probably lost for good, unless someone hunts them down and saves any remaining trees. The only one I can find any current reference to is the Bringewood Pippin, which was recently found in an old orchard. It is also in my friend Nigel Deacon’s Collection in England. I’ve also heard of two current amateur apple breeders using Golden Harvey as a parent.
The Golden Harvey came to America along with several other interesting apples including Downton Pippin (on my want’s list), Cornish Gilliflower (have it!), Bringewood Pippin, Bittersweet Harvey. These were sent to the Hon. John Lowell of Massachusetts. Both Bringewood and Bittersweet Harvey were bred by intentional cross pollination by Mr. Knight of England, who you will read more about below.
Alas, I obtained a scion of Golden Harvey, grafted it, grew it for years until it fruited and it turned out to be a useless red apple of unknown variety. If anyone out there has the real Golden Harvey, feel free to send me a scion! I’m very interested in this apple for sugar content, quality and extreme storeability.
The Australasian Fruit Culturist: Containing Full and Complete Information as to the History, Traditions, Uses, Propagation and Culture of Such Fruits as are Suitable to Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand, David Alexander Crichton, 1893
Golden Harvey (Brandy Apple).—An old English variety, with small nearly round fruit. Skin roughly russety on a yellow ground, with a tinge of red on the cheek. Flesh yellow, juicy, sub-acid, with an aromatic flavour. Ripens late, keeps fairly well; a good dessert, and first-class cider Apple. Tree moderate in growth, but bears freely.
British Pomology Or the History, Description, Classification and Synonymes of the Fruits and Fruit Trees of Great Britain, Robert Hogg, 1851
Fruit, small; oblate-cylindrical, even and free from angles. Skin, entirely covered with rough scaly russet, with sometimes a patch of the yellow ground color exposed on the shaded side, and covered with brownish-red on the side next the sun. Eye, small and open, with very short, reflexed segments, set in a wide, shallow, and slightly plaited basin. Stalk, half-an-inch long, inserted in a shallow cavity. Flesh, yellow, firm, crisp, juicy, sugary, with an exceedingly rich and powerful aromatic flavor.
This is one of the richest and most excellent dessert apples; it is in use from December to May; but is very apt to shrivel if exposed to light and air as most russety apples are.
The tree is a free grower, and perfectly hardy. It attains about the middle size and is an excellent bearer. When grown on the paradise stock it is well adapted for dwarf training, and forms a good espalier.
Independently of being one of the best dessert apples, it is also one of the best for cider; and from the great strength of its juice, the specific gravity of which is 1085, it has been called the Brandy Apple.
Bringewood Pippin: Flesh Yellowish, firm, crisp and sugary, with a rich and perfumed flavor. An excellent, though not first rate, dessert apple, in use from January to March. It’s only fault is the flesh being too dry… This is one of the varieties raised by Thomas Andrew Knight, esq., of Downton Castle Herefordshire, and which he obtained by impregnating the Golden Pippin, with the pollen of The Golden Harvey.
Siberian Bittersweet: This remarkable apple was raised by Mr. Knight from the seed of Siberian Crab, impregnated with the pollen of the Golden Harvey. I cannot do better than to transcribe from the Transactions of the London Horticultural Society, Mr. Knight’s own account of this apple. “The fruit contains much saccharine matter, with scarcely any perceptible acid: and it in consequence affords a cider, which is perfectly free form the harshness which in that liquid offends the palate of many, and the constitution of more: and I believe that there is not any county in England in which it might not be made to afford, at a moderate price, a very wholesome and very palatable cider....”
When the Juice is pressed from the ripe, somewhat mellow fruit, it contains a very large portion of saccharine matter: and if part of the water it contains be made to evaporate, in a moderately low temperature, it affords a large quantity of a jelly of intense sweetness, which to my palate is extremely agreeable: and which may be employed for purposes similar to those to which insipissated juice of the grape is applied in France. The Jelly of the apple prepared in the manner above described, is, I believe, capable of being kept unchanged during a very long period in any climate: the mucilage being preserved by the antiseptic powers of the saccharine matter, and that being incapable of acquiring, as sugar does, a state of crystallization. If the juice be properly filtered, the jelly will be perfectly transparent. [edit: should be good for the real no sugar added, shelf stable traditional apple butter recipes]
The tree is a strong and vigorous grower: a most abundant bearer, and a perfect dreadnought to the woolly aphis.
Siberian Harvey: “Specific Gravity of juice, 1091 [edit: a specific gravity of 1091 is almost 22% sugar! the only higher sugar apple I have heard of is Wickson bred in the early 20th century by Albert Etter, which has been claimed to reach a whopping 25%]. A cider apple raised by T.A. Knight Esq., and along with the Foxley, considered by him superior to any other varieties in cultivation. It was produced from a seed of the Yellow Siberian Crab, fertilized with the pollen of the Golden Harvey, the juice of this variety is the most intensely sweet, and is probably, very nearly what that of the Golden Harvey would be in a southern climate, the original tree produced it’s blossoms in the year 1807...
Hulbert’s Princes Royal:
A seedling from the Golden Harvey, but larger ; flesh more tender, and equally rich. It is a small dessert apple, of first-rate quality; and ripe in May.
The fruit manual; containing the descriptions and synonymes of the fruits and fruit trees commonly met with in the gardens & orchards of Great Britain, with selected lists of those most worthy of cultivation. By Robert Hogg, London, Cottage Gardener Office, 1860.
Small, nearly round. Skin roughly russety, on a yellow ground, tinged with red next the sun. Stalk half an inch long, slender. Eye small, open and shallow. Flesh yellow, rich, aromatic and sub-acid flavour. A first rate dessert apple. December to June.
Pyrus Malus Brentfordiensis:, or A CONCISE DESCRIPTION OF SELECTED APPLES BY HUGH RONALDS, F.H.S. 1831
GOLDEN HARVEY, or BRANDY APPLE.
A dessert apple not larger than the Golden Pippin; the eye broad; the stalk long and slender: colour light yellow with a flush of red and embroidered with a rougish russet. It is called Brandy Apple from the superior specific strength of its juice: is of remarkably close texture, very rich in flavour, and will keep till April or May. The tree is of slender growth, and does not bear well for the first two or three years, but after that time it seldom fails. Blossoms small: colour lilac and white.
POMONA HEREFORDIENSIS; CONTAINING COLOURED ENGRAVINGS OF THE OLD CIDER AND PERRY OF HEREFORDSHIRE. BY THOMAS ANDREW KNIGHT, ESQ., 1811
THE GOLDEN HARVEY, OR BRANDY APPLE.
Three different varieties of Apples are distinguished by the name of Harveys in Herefordshire, the Golden, the Russet, and the Scotched: of these the Golden alone, which has derived its name from the bright yellow colour of its pulp, is valued for the press. It is doubtful whether the writers on fruits of the 17th century, were acquainted with this Apple: though Evelyn states, that some persons preferred the Cider of the “Harvey Apple (being boiled),” to all other Ciders; and the Harvey Apple, and Russet Harvey, are both mentioned by Worlidge. For if the Golden Harvey had been known to Worlidge, its excellence for the dessert, would have caused it to be cultivated in every part of England; and to be every where esteemed, as it is in Herefordshire, the best fruit of its species. The Cider afforded by the Golden Harvey, generally possesses very great strength, with little richness; and it has been thence called the Brandy Apple: in a very warm situation and season it, however, sometimes affords a most exceedingly rich and fine Cider. The fruit may be preserved for the dessert, in perfection, from December till May, and even later. The trees of this variety still possess a considerable share of health and vigour; and for culture, in the garden only, it is not much impaired by age. The specific gravity of its juice, considerably exceeds that of any other Apple which I have yet had occasion to describe, being about 1085.
THE POMOLOGICAL MAGAZINE; OR, FIGURES AND DESCRIPTIONS OF THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIETIES OF FRUIT CULTIVATED IN GREAT BRITAIN VOL. I, 1828
This is by some supposed to be an Apple of very ancient date. Trees of considerable age are said to be growing on the Cotswold Hills, in Gloucestershire. By others it is doubted whether the writers on the fruits of the 17th century were acquainted with it, though Evelyn says, that some persons preferred the cider “of the Harvey Apple (being boiled)" to all other ciders ; and the Harvey Apple and Russet Harvey are both mentioned by Worlidge. These doubts are very much strengthened by the fact that the Golden Harvey is even at the present day but little cultivated in comparison with its surpassing merits. It is, perhaps, the very best of all our fruits, on which account it is probable, that if of an old origin, it would have been by this time more universally known. It is not to be supposed, that because Worlidge names two sorts of Harveys, this must necessarily be one of them; for in the cider counties there appear to be three distinct kinds under that name, and the Harvey Apple of Norfolk is a sort totally different from either of these three.
A most excellent variety, bearing in great abundance in many situations, ripening in December, and keeping till May, or even longer. Its flavour is more rich and agreeable than that of any other variety of Apple. No garden, however small, should be without it.
It is much esteemed as a cider fruit, on account of the quantity of sugar it contains. The cider made from it is very strong, but not rich, for which reason it has acquired the name of the Brandy Apple. The specific gravity of its juice is said, in the Pomona Herefordiensis, to be 1085.
Wood weak, erect, downy at the extremities, olive green, a little spotted.
Leaves ovate, acuminate, finely serrated, appearing early, but slightly downy in any part. Stipules subulate, smooth.
Fruit small, quite round, often growing in clusters, free from angles or irregularities of surface. Stalk short. Eye small, contracted. Skin dull russet, with a bright yellow ground, often breaking through the russet in patches. Flesh firm, breaking, very rich, juicy, spicy, and high-flavoured.
Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society of London, Vol 10, 1888
Golden Harvey (Wheeler), D. Small, conical, open eye, light russet, flushed red, sometimes streaked, flesh firm, yellow, rich, sweet, mid-season ; first quality.
HINTS ADDRESSED TO PROPRIETORS OF ORCHARDS
The Golden Harvey, or Brandy Apple, This variety is generally esteemed in Herefordshire the best fruit of its species, and I think with reason. Its season commences in November, and it remains in perfection, with proper attention, till May. This variety has long been cultivated, and it has, consequently, passed the period of youth and vigour, but it is still perfectly well calculated for gar- den culture. A coloured plate of this variety is given in the eighth number of the Pomona Herefordiensis, with that of its offspring, the Siberian Harvey, to which alone it is inferior in richness and in the high specific gravity of its juice. It is of little value, except for the press.
The Siberian Harvey. This variety is the offspring of a seed of the yellow Siberian crab, and the pollen of the last mentioned, and it possesses the hardy character of the former with the saccharine juice of the Golden Harvey: the gravity of its juice was .1091.
The Court of Wyck Pippin. This is a fine thriving variety and not an old fruit, it is much cultivated in Somersetshire, and is highly prized. This appears more like the Golden Harvey than any other apple, and I should think, is really an improvement on that fruit. I brought some of the fruit to London, and on giving it to several persons who are judges, it was pronounced one of the best apples. This, as well as the golden Harvey, partakes much of the nature in all respects, of the old golden pippin, except in colour the golden Harvey has a fine yellow russet on a red, and the court of Wyck is so much like it, that except in its being a more freely growing tree, and the fruit somewhat larger, no one I think could tell any great difference in the two.
The Illustrated London Almanac, Jabez Hogg, James Glaisher Illustrated London News, 1859
Golden Harvey,—"No garden which can contain ten trees should do without one of this —it is one of the richest and most excellent of our dessert apples, and will keep until May. Parkinson mentions it, probably, in 1623, as "The Harvey apple, a fair, greatly good apple
The Penny Cyclopedia of the society for the diffusion of useful knowledge Vol 2, 1834
Of table apples, the varieties are endless; but by far the greater part of the local sorts, and of those commonly cultivated, is of only second-rate quality. The finest variety of all is the Cornish gilliflower; no other equals this in excellence, but it is unfortunately a bad bearer. Of those which combine productiveness and healthiness with the highest quality, the six following must be considered the best: golden Harvey, old nonpareil, Hubbard's pearmain, Ribston pippin, Dutch mignonne, Court of Wick. Finally, the best selection that could be made for a small garden, so as to obtain a constant succession of fruit from the earliest to the latest season, would be the following, which are enumerated in their order of ripening, the first being fit for use in June, and the last keeping till the end of April.
The book of the garden, Volume 2, W. Blackwood, 1855
Golden Harvey.—Colour russet and yellow; form roundish; size under medium; quality first-rate. In use from November till Juno. One of our best dessert apples, having a peculiar flavour of brandy, hence often known as the brandy apple. It is much cultivated in the west of England, even in elevated localities, for the purpose of making the best quality of cider, as well as for tho dessert. It is, however, by no means a hardy tree, yet succeeds well at Dalkeith as a dwarf standard.
The English Cyclopaedia: A New Dictionary of Universal Knowledge, Volume , By Charles Knight, 1859
England is celebrated for the excellence of its cider; a beverage which perhaps acquires its highest degree of excellence in Herefordshire, and the neighbouring counties. In those districts, it has been found that the best varieties are the foxtwelp, a worn-out sort, much used for mixing with other kinds, to which it communicates strength and flavour; the red must; the hagloe crab, which, however, is only good in a dry soil, on a basis of calcareous stone, in a warm situation and season; the grange apple; the orange pippin; the forest styre, which is supposed to produce a stronger cyder than any other, but is not a good bearer; the yellow Elliot; the Bennett; the Siberian Harvey; Stead't kernel; the friar, which is very hardy; and above all, the golden Harvey, or brandy apple. The specific gravity of the juice of these varieties has been stated by Mr. Knight to be as follows:— Besides these, the coccagee and the Siberian bittersweet are in much estimation.
The Gardeners' Chronicle: A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Horticulture and allied subjects, Vol XL, Third Series, 1906
BRANDY APPLE This is a small Herefordshire Apple called also Golden Harvey. It is globular in form, obscurely five angled, round, with the deep eye and with deep basin in which the short stalk is set. The skin is smooth, deep crimson; the carpels are acute. Flesh white (yellow in Golden Harvey), crisp; sweet with a marked aromatic flavour. Hogg's Manual, fifth edition, p. 88, describes the skin as russety, so that probably our specimen is not correctly named, though in other points it agrees quite well with Hogg's description. It is a good dessert Apple and is stated to be an excellent cider Apple, owing to the strength of its juice.
The Apple, In Orchard and Garden, James Groom, 1883
Golden Harvey, 3 size, 1 quality. December to May. A beautiful fruit, one of the very best
A Handbook of Hardy Fruit, More Commonly Grown in Great Britain, Apples and Pears Edward A Bunyard FLS, 1920
GOLDEN HARVEY. (Brandy Apple, Round Russet Harvey.) Dessert, till May, small, 2 by if, flattened, round, even. Colour, greenish-yellow with dull red flush, covered with thin russet. Flesh, firm, yellow, very sweet and rich. Eye, open in a shallow basin, Stem, moderately long, in a small cavity. Growth, moderate; fertile. Leaf, rather small, nearly flat. Origin, English ; known early in the seventeenth century. The original tree was at the Royal Horticultural Show, at Chiswick, in 1821. One of the good old sorts which have been neglected.
The Fruit Cultivator, John Rodgers, 1834
Golden Harvey. — Ripe in December, and keeps till June. This is one of the excellent apples, of which mention is made in the Herefordshire Pomona; and highly extolled by the first orehardist in the kingdom, T. A. Knight, Esq., who has caused not only this, but many more superior kinds of fruit, to be brought into notice and general cultivation. This apple is small, round, and of a handsome shape; the colour a russet yellow, tinted on the sunward side with bright red. The pulp is yellow, breaking and crisp ; abounding with a high-flavoured juice, which remains long unexhausted. The tree is of moderate growth and size, healthy, hardy, and a good bearer. It falls in among the second grade of orchard trees; and, if worked on the paradise stock, no one answers better for either dwarfs or low espaliers. This apple in fine seasons produces the strongest cider; hence it is called the "Brandy Apple", where that liquor (cider) is manufactured. No collection or orchard should be without a few trees of this excellent fruit.
A Guide to the Orchard and Kitchen Garden, George Lindley FRS, 1831
Fruit small, quite round, generally about five inches in circumference, and free from angles or irregularities of surface. Eye small, open; the segments of the calyx narrow, very short and diverging, placed in a flat, very shallow, slightly-crumpled basin. Stalk half an inch long, slender, not protruding beyond the base. Skin dull russet, with a bright yellow ground, often breaking through the russet in patches, and marbled on the sunny side with a lively shaded red. Flesh yellow, firm, breaking, very rich, juicy, spicy, and high flavoured.
A most excellent and beautiful dessert apple, ripening in December, and keeping till May or June. The tree is not a large grower, but very hardy; a great and constant bearer, and no garden, capable of containing ten trees, ought to be without one of it.
There are different varieties of the apple cultivated in Herefordshire under the name of Harvey: the Golden Harvey derives its name from the bright yellow colour of its pulp.
In order to keep some of the more valuable Apples in a perfect state to a late period of the season, they should hang till they can be readily detached from the tree. They should then be placed in casks or boxes, as they are gathered, beginning with a layer of thoroughly dry pit sand in the bottom, then a layer of Apples, placed close to each other, then another layer of sand, just sufficient to cover the fruit, and no more, and so continuing alternately, till the cask or box is full, finishing with a covering of sand. These should be placed in the fruit room; where they may remain undisturbed till the others of the same kind kept on the shelves are nearly done. This method has been practised many years ago at Holkham, where I have tasted the Golden Harvey Apple and some others, so kept, in as high a state of perfection in the month of May
The Gardeners Assistant, William Watson
Golden Harvey. — Dessert. December-May. An excellent table Apple. Tree of moderate growth but healthy and forms an excellent small tree on the Paradise stock, bearing freely. Fruit small, round, flattened, yellow and russety, flavour exceptionally rich.
The New American Orchardist, William Kenrick, 1833
A dessert apple not larger than the Golden Pippin; the eye broad; the stalk long and slender; color light yellow, with a flush of red and embroidered with a roughish russet. It is called Brandy Apple from the superior specific strength of its juice: is of remarkably close texture, very rich in flavor, and will keep till April or May. The tree is of slender growth, and does not bear well for the first two or three years, but after that, it seldom fails. Blossoms small: color lilac and white. Specific gravity of its juice 1.085. A tree of this variety was sent by Mr Knight to the Hon. John Lowell in 1823, and has been by him distributed to all who have applied.
Science and Practice of Farm Cultivation, James Buckman FLS FGS, 1865
Golden Harvey, spec. grav. 1085, a first-rate cider fruit. No orchard should be without this.
The Apple, it’s History, Varieties and Cultivation, D. T. Fish,
Golden Harvey or Brandy Apple. —Fruit small russety, flesh compact, firm, rich, and highly aromatic. This is a valuable little apple for dessert, and also for stewing in syrup, to be served as a sweet. The solidity of its flesh enables it to keep its form when treated in this way.
The Gardener’s Magazine and Register of Rural and Domestic Improvement, Vol IV, 1838
Apples : Golden Harvey (perhaps the richest table apple)
Some years ago, a valuable dessert apple, to which the name of Cornwall pippin has been given, was raised from seed at this place. The appearance of the fruit induces the supposition that its parents were the golden Harvey and the golden pippin, but its real origin is unknown. — October 12. 1837.
...very fine fruit of the golden Harvey and nonpareil apples, in illustration of his manner of keeping fruit of this description. The apples were found, upon trial, to have preserved their flavour in great perfection.
A pictorial Monthly Magazine of Flowers Fruits and General Horticulture, Thomas Moore, FLS, FRHS, &C. 1876
COX’S REDLEAF RUSSET APPLE.
This Apple was raised from seed by Mr. Cox, of Redleaf, who thus speaks of it:—“The Redleaf Russet is ostensibly, according to my own manipulation, a cross between the Golden Knob and the Golden Harvey, but there is a possibility that I was anticipated by the bees, as a tree of the Old Nonpareil grew near by; and I am the more confirmed in this because the fruit possesses three of the characteristics of the Old Nonpareil—namely, the shape, the long stalk, and the tenderness of flesh. The colour of the skin is that of its parent, the Golden Knob. The yellow colour of the flesh would seem to be derived from the Golden Harvey, while the growth of the tree and manner of bearing resemble both Old Nonpareil and Golden Harvey more than the Golden Knob. When in perfection the flavour is most delicious and peculiar to itself, and it may be considered in perfection from February till the end of May, after which, although keeping sound till the end of July, the flavour gradually deteriorates.
The following description of the Redleaf Russet is from Hogg’s Year-Book (1876, p. 119):—“Fruit round, inclining to oblate; in appearance very like Golden Knob. Skin entirely covered with bright cinnamon-coloured russet, which is thinner on the shaded side, where it exposes a little of the yellow ground. Eye partially open, with flat segments set in a pretty wide and deep saiicer4ike basin. Stalk three-quarters of an inch long, pretty stout, set in a round cavity. Flesh yellowish, tender, crisp, very juicy, and sweet, with a rich flavour and pleasant aroma. An excellent dessert Apple, in use from December to February.
This was raised by Mr. John Cox, gardener at Redleaf, near Pens- hurst, Kent, and received a First-class Certificate from the Royal Horticultural Society, January 20, 1875.” This Apple will undoubtedly prove a most valuable addition to our high- flavoured very late table varieties. The entire stock is in the hands of Messrs. W. Paul and Son, Waltham Cross, Herts, who will be prepared to distribute it in November next.
My Garden, It’s Plan and Culture, Alfred Smee, FRS, 1872
Apples which are fine in texture and rich in flavour are selected for the purposes of the table, of which the Irish Peach, the Ribston Pippin, and the Golden Harvey are notable examples.
January produces the large Reinette du Canada (fig. 244), which is generally a good bearer, and gives a large fine apple with excellent flavour. The Golden Harvey (fig. 245), a small apple, ripens about this time.
Fruits and Fruit Trees of America, A.J. Downing 1845
An excellent, high flavoured little dessert apple from England, which bears well, and retains its character with us. It is rather adapted for the fruit garden than the orchard — as the tree is of slender growth, and it would not be a popular market fruit here.
Fruit small, irregularly round, and about two inches in diameter. Skin rather rough, dull russet over a yellow ground, with a russety red cheek. Calyx small, open, with stiff segments, and set in a very shallow basin. Stalk half an inch long, and rather slender. Flesh yellow, of remarkably fine texture, with a spicy, rich, sub-acid flavour. The fruit should be kept in a cellar, or it is apt to shrivel. December to April.
Hooper’s Western Fruit Book, A compendious collection of facts from the notes and experience of successful fruit culturists, E.J. Hooper 1857
Remarks. — " Unworthy." — Dr. Warder, one of our best Western Pomologists.
[EDIT, In this case western referred to the Midwest, as in Ohio. As you can see from this photo, these pomologists were not messing about when it came to the serious business of fruit.]
American Pomology, Dr. John A. Warder, 1867
[Note. This is the Same Warder that condemned the this variety as simply “unworthy” 10 years earlier in the above Hooper’s Western Fruit Book.]
This highly flavored English apple is often referred to, but is rarely seen in American collections ; but as it may be interesting to some, I quote Downing's brief description :
" Fruit small, irregularly round ; Skin rather rough, dull russet over a yellow ground, with a russety red cheek; Flesh yellow, of fine texture, with a rich sub-acid flavor. The fruit is apt to shrivel."
Tree of slender growth.
The Fruit Cultivator’s Manual, by Thomas Bridgeman, Gardener, Seedsman, and Florist 1847
A dessert apple, not larger than the Golden Pippin ; colour light yellow, with a flush of red, and embroidered with a roughish russet. It is called Brandy Apple from the superior specific strength of its juice, being 1085; it is of remarkably close texture, very rich in flavour, and will keep till April or May.
Deutchland’s Apfelsorten, DR. TH. Engelbrecht, 1889
Golden Harvey auch llranily Apple
Gestalt 54: 47 — 48, stark uligestumpft liinfrliclirund, raittelUancli. Hälften gleich.
Kelch offen, gross, gelblich, locker behaart. Blättchen ziemlich schmal, am Grunde getrennt, lang, aufrecht, nach aussen gebogen, fein gespitzt. Einsenk. ziemlich tief, weit, etwas ausgeschweift, eben, yuersehn. rund.
Stiel holzig, dünn, etwa IHtnm 1., dunkelbraun, kahl. Höhle massig tief, weit, eben, zuweilen mit Fleisehwulst, brotizefarben berostet.
Schule glatt bis fein rauh, ziemlich glänzend, in der Zeitigung goldgelb, sonnenw. rariuoisin, fast blutrolh überzogen, nicht oder nicht deutlich ge.streift. l’unkte zahlreich, niitteldick bis dick, auch eckig, braun. Anflüge bräunlich gelben Kostes nicht selten. Hie Frucht welkt in einigen Gegenden zienilich stark, (ieruch fehlt. >
Kernhaus 33:27, zwiebelförm. Kammern etwas tiefsitzend 10:14, stielw. stumpf gespitzt, kelchw. abgerundet, fast glattwandig, geräumig, ge- schlossen oder sehr wenig offen. Achsenh. schmal. Kerne meistens zu 2, mittelgross, vollkommen, eiförmig, gespitzt, ka.stanienbraun.
Kelchböhle triehterfVirmig, mit oft recht flacher Mündung, '/j zur Achsenh. Pistille ziemlich kurz verwachsen, am Grunde fast kahl, in der Theilung etwas behaart. Staubfiiilen wenig über mittelständig.
Fleiscb gelblichweiss , fein, fest selbst gegen Ende der Zeitigung, saftig, edel rcinettenartig gewürzt, etwas vorherrschend sehr angenehm weinig, nicht viel weniger süss.
Hie Früchte erhielt ich von Kolbe -Langwarden (Oldenburg) und als Brandy von Hoesch-Hüren, sie waren getrocknet sehr schmackhaft.
Htt H iwOflTuiifcl (Kog.) Almost OOl + t, January to May.
(THE WACKY DIGITAL TRANSLATION BELOW. GERMANS, FEEL FREE TO SEND ME A BETTER TRANSLATION!)
Golden Harvey also Brandy Apple
Figure 54: 47-48, severely uli-stomped liinfrliclund, raittelUancli. halves equal.
Goblet open, large, yellowish, loosely hairy. Leaves quite narrow, on Basically separate, long, upright, bent outward, finely pointed. The immerse. pretty deep, wide, a bit out of sorts, even, yuersehn. round.
Stalk woody, thin, about 1st grade, dark brown, bare. Cave massively deep, wide, even, sometimes with Fleisehwulst, rusted britzizefarben.
Skin smooth to fine rough, rather shiny, golden yellow in the evening, Solstice. rariuoisin, almost blood red coated, not or not clear striped. There are numerous, thin to thick, even angular, brown. Approaches brownish yellow Kostes not infrequently. The fruit withers in in some areas it is strong, (it is missing
Kernhaus 33:27, bulbous. Chambers a bit deep sitting 10:14, stielw. dull tipped, kelchw. rounded, almost smooth-walled, spacious, closed or very little open. Achsenh. narrow. Cores mostly to 2, medium-sized, perfect, ovate, pointed, ka.stanienbraun.
Kelchböhle TriehterfVirmig, with often quite flat mouth, '/ j zum Achsenh. Pistachio rather short, at the base almost bald, in division a bit hairy. Dusting a little above medium.
Fleischb yellowish white, fine, firm even towards the end of the Zeitigung, juicy, noble rincette-like spiced, slightly predominantly very pleasantly vinous, not much less cute.
Hie fruits I received from Kolbe -Langwarden (Oldenburg) and as Brandy from Hoesch-Hüren, they were dried very tasty.
The Book of the Garden, Charles M’Intosh, 1855
Golden Harvey. — Colour russet and yellow; form roundish ; size under medium ; quality first-rate. In use from November till June. One of our best dessert apples, having a peculiar fLavour of brandy, hence often known as the brandy apple. It is much cultivated in the west of England, even in elevated localities, for the purpose of making the best quality of cider, as weU as for the dessert. It is, however, by no means a hardy tree, yet succeeds well at Dalkeith as a dwarf standard.
The Florist and Fruitist, 1859
Class E. — Premiums of 1/. and ]0*\ for the best and second best six of any other dessert Apple in season, excepting old Nonpareil. The first prize was awarded to Mr. James Holder, of Reading, for Golden Harvey, from a standard; soil very rich, subsoil sandy loam, over gravel. Fruit fine coloured, very richly vinous, and sugary in flavour, and, but for being somewhat shrivelled, — probably owing to having been somewhat too early gathered, — they would have been, in every respect, one of the best dishes ever laid before the society. — The same variety was also sent by Mr. Simpson (gardener to Lady Molyneux, Stoke Farm, near Slough). Very plump and juicy, but small and slightly astringent.
The Horticulturist, 1860
Golden Harvey, syn. Brandy apple. Small, roundish, yellowish russet, firm, exceedingly rich, and high flavoured; in this respect a fruit of the very highest excellence; December to May; the tree is slender, upright, and a moderate bearer.
MONTHLY NOTICES OF PAPERS AND PROCEEDINGS AND REPORT OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF TASMANIA FOR 1879
Mackintosh's Book of the Garden, Vol. II. , p. 345, may assist in throwing some light on the subject. After describing the moth, he goes on'to state that it invariably selects the finest apple in which to lay its eggs, knowing instinctively that these will be most palatable to its future progeny. (In Tasmania the Golden Harvey is most affected).
The Practical Gardener and Modern Horticulturist, Charles McIntosh, 1828
Brandy Apple, Golden Harvey. — Fruit small, resembling a golden pippin in shape, yellowish russet color, fine flavor ; in use from January till March. Is much esteemed in Herefordshire, where it has been long cultivated. Tree handsome habit and extremely hardy.
Tilton’s Journal of Horticulture and Florists Companion, J.F. Tilton, 1870
Notwithstanding the efforts which the late Mr. Thomas Andrew Knight made to cross existing varieties of the cultivated apple with the Siberian Crab, they all failed to produce a result which has been of any real benefit. Mr. Knight's object in thus crossing these individuals was, as he states, to obtain such fruits as vegetate very early in spring by introducing the farina of the Sibe- rian Crab into the blossom of a rich and early apple, and by transferring, in the same manner, the farina of the apple to the blossom of the Siberian Crab. At the time Mr. Knight wrote this, the trees so produced had ngt yet borne fruit ; but he observes, 'The leaf and habit of many of the plants that I have thus obtained possess much of the character of the apple, whilst they vegetate as early in the spring as the apple of Siberia, and appear to possess an equal power of bearing cold.' But what was the result of these carefully performed experi- ments ? From this crossing we got the Siberian Bittersweet, which, Mr. Knight himself says, is wholly worthless, except for the press, that is, for cider making. Then the Siberian Harvey has a juice so intensely sweet,' that it, too, can only be used, mixed with other apples, for cider. Both of these were raised from the fruit of the Siberian Crab fertilized with the Golden Harvey, one of our best dessert apples.
On September 18th I got to taste a few apples, including a new seedling apple. Some were over the hill and some were not yet ripe, but here is the report.
SKINNER’S SEEDLING: I have some doubt about the identification of this apple, just because it was not very good and reports in the old literature are glowing. Mine also have a lot of red stripping and the descriptions don’t really indicate that as much as they emphasize the yellow background with light striping or just a blush on the sunny side. The birds hit them pretty hard in spite of my covering them with footsox. Birds like large fruit, just like a lot of people do. I’ve been waiting for this variety to bear fruit for a long time. It was grown from a seed of Newtown Pippin brought to California via Wagon by Judge Henry Chapman Skinner in 1849. It is one of only two seedlings that survived out of 13 seeds and was planted on the banks of Coyote Creek in San Jose California. Out of only two seedlings that were allowed to grow, he considered both worth keeping, and this one became somewhat famous, at least in California, where it was even planted by some commercial orchardists.
Funny thing, I used to live right near the site of the original tree when I was just starting my first few years in school. We lived in a crappy, stuccoed, pink duplex. My parents managed to raise three kids on a low income while my mom rode her bike to nursing school. Across the street was a large walnut orchard, and the valley, once a great agricultural area with deep, fertile soil, was still dotted here and there with orchards and fields with solitary large old two story farmhouses defiantly standing their ground. By now, even more of that outstanding agricultural land has been paved over with cheap tract housing. Judge Skinners place was probably quite large and is now all dense housing. We used to explore and catch crawdads in the same Coyote Creek that Skinner’s Seedling was planted along, only about 15 blocks from where we lived. At that time, the creek was full of old tires, shopping carts, trash of all kinds and huge numbers of what are still to this day the largest crawdads I’ve ever caught. We used to go there with some neighborhood kids that sniffed glue on a regular basis. They seemed like about the dumbest people I ever met at the time and probably were lol. As dirty, rough and probably dangerous as that city environment was, we kids still wandered and played as we pleased. I think a lot of parents don’t give their kids that same kind of free reign these days. I think Judge skinner would be shocked and saddened at the defiled state of that once beautiful, prime farm land, though he was unknowingly paving the way for that eventuality.
This apple was very highly regarded. Check out the following quotes:
"Santa Clara King: Fruit large to very large; form, oblate, conic, slightly mixed; color rich lemon yellow, faintly striped with bright red; flesh, yellowish white, very tender, juicy, sprightly, mild subacid; quality best. Season, September and October. This is the best very large apple we have seen. Said to be a good grower and productive."
“It is one of our best summer apples. The color is a light yellow, quality good and sells well. The tree is a good grower and almost wholly resists blight.”
“form, oblate, conical; size, large; color, light green, blushed: flesh. texture fine, tender, juicy ; color, white ; flavor, subacid : quality, very good to best: use, dessert, kitchen, market: season. August.”
“The Skinner seedling as it is popularly known by thousands of consumers, or Skinner's pippin as it was named by the Horticultural Society, is one of the meritorious products of the Santa Clara valley, as well as having the"distinction of originating here. Its popularity increases as it becomes more widely known, for it undoubtedly suits the taste of more people during its season than any other apple grown in California. Ripening as it does during the warm, sunny weather of the first week in August. it must be picked at the right time and carefully protected from the weather in order to preserve its delicate flavor which evaporates and passes away rapidly when exposed to sun and wind. Its history is quite interesting and is about as follows.On March 29, 1849, Henry Chapman Skinner left Milwaukee, Wis., and crossed the plains to California, taking with him some Newtown pippin apples. On the long trip across the plains most of the apples decayed, but one was saved, which contained thirteen seeds, a lucky number in this instance. The seeds were carefully saved. Judge Skinner settled in San Jose in April. 1850, at what is now known as the Sweigert place, corner of Fifteenth and Julian streets. In the fall he planted thirteen apple seeds. Seven of them grew, but were all discarded but two. One of these proved to be a sour apple of good quality, and the other was Skinner's seedling. The tree grew thriftily, as is its nature, and in September, 1857, the first fruits, thirty-two in number were exhibited at the annual fair of the Santa Clara Valley Agricultural Society. The last record of the original tree was in 1878. It was then still standing at the back of the place near the Coyote creek, and in full bearing.”
“Skinner's Seedling is but little known in this country, but is destined to be the greatest money maker of any other apple grown in this section ripening as it does ahead of the Gravenstein. The tree is of a very hardy stock and a sure cropper. The apples are large, well formed, of splendid flavor and unusual shipping qualities. The color is of a clear, transparent, yellowish green, with a slight blush where it is kissed by the sun. Theo. Heiss, who lives northwest of Browns Valley, has a dozen or so of old trees of the above variety which bore a heavy crop of splendid apples this year and sold for a handsome price in Vallejo and was preferred by those who had used them to the Gravenstein or any other apple. The wood of the limbs is very tough and can hardly be broken. [This statement is rather surprising to us as we have long considered the wood of Skinner's Seedling as exceedingly brittle, especially- the wood of the spur which is very apt to come off with the fruit. Are we mistaken in that matter? —Editor.]”
Notes for the horticultural society meeting in November 1887 indicate that Skinner’s Seedling was so named instead of the name Santa Clara County King. E.J. Wickson, author of California Fruits apparently disagreed with adding seedling to apple names, which I tend to agree with. It was agreed to hereafter call the apple known both as Skinner's Seedling " and the "Santa Clara County King" by this former name….. but Mr. Coates and Mr. Wickson both protested against tacking the word seedling after names. Mr. Wickson urged that this practice was condemned by the American Pomological Society. Mr. Coates praised the practice of Mr. Hatch, which is to find original and characteristic names for new varieties.”
My own samples, if they are indeed Skinner’s Seedling, seemed to ripen about the right time, but I got them late and they had gone soft. The ones I tasted earlier were not very promising either, but I may have missed a magic window. It sure does sound promising in the old literature though.
GRAVENSTEIN: It’s hard for me to ever get this apple past the birds. It’s pretty good eating at it’s best, but it’s most suited to cooking. The flavor I can’t really describe, but it’s good and somewhat unique. This year I discovered the earlier Viking, which bears surprising similarities, but seems perhaps more intriguing and more complex in flavor, if more thin and acidic. There is a similarity between the flavors of the two apples somehow. I don’t believe there is any Gravenstein in Viking’s genes, but they seem like siblings in everything from appearance to leaning toward acid and the style of flavor.
MOTHER: Mother is very good this year. It has a rich flavor, fruity, on a background of “red apple”. In the best ones there is what I usually refer to as a fruit candy flavor, because my reference point growing up was not flavorful apples, but artificially flavored fruit candy from the corner store. That’s kind of sad, but I know most people are probably in the same boat these days. Mother is worth growing and has a long reputation as an exceptional early apple. Overall mother get’s two thumbs up for productivity, beauty and flavor this year.
SUNRISE This year Sunrise lived up to it’s usual reputation, being mild, sweet, unoffensive, easy to eat, pleasant, but perhaps a little boring. I think they are still a week or more away from being at their best though and I have hopes that they will become a little richer and sweeter if hung longer in the sun. I grafted a branch out in a sunny spot some years ago and it’s really just starting to bear well, so I’m hoping to taste more good specimens over the coming weeks.
ST. EDMUND’S PIPPIN (aka st. edmund’s russet): Early in the season, this apple tasted thin and acidic. By now it is soft and insipid. It is the most pear-like apple I think I’ve ever had. It has the grainy texture of an under ripe pear, pear flavor and pear-like russet skin. The flesh is very dry and the fruit is very light in weight. Overall it is a disappointment here and will probably be grafted over. Originally it seemed to hold promise as a good early russet, but it’s also not as early as I was hoping. I will probably graft it over to an earlier apple like.
HOLLOW LOG: An old southern apple. Looking at the description in Lee Calouns book Old Southern Apple, it may be mislabeled, since neither the season or the description match. It is not quite ripe yet, but seems somewhat promising. It is hard and dense. I think another one to three weeks for this one to ripen.
WICKSON SEEDLING #3 2011: In 2011, I planted open pollinated seeds of Wickson from a box of apples given to me by some friends after I helped them lay concrete block for a root cellar. I think by then I was already partially inspired by Albert Etter, early 20th century apple breeder who bred the Wickson apple. I remember thinking that this apple was so good that it had to produce a certain percentage of good apples from seed. In fact, it was hard to imagine the seeds producing bad apples. I was aware of the common assertion that you can’t grow apples from seed, but, when it comes to information, there is not much I take at face value. out of the seeds I planted, I ended up grafting 4 or 5 of them onto already established trees, and 3 of those lived and fruited. This is the final one of those seedlings to fruit, the others being the seedling that I named BITE ME! and a tiny flavorless, acid-less green crab the size of a large marble.
This seedling fruited last year, but it wasn’t that exciting. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just unremarkable. This year it seems much more promising. There is definitely some of the unique flavor type possessed by Wickson, which is also found in Wickson relatives and other crabs. Though still subtle, but I’m hoping that flavor will develop more as the apples ripen further over the next one to three weeks. Some of them have watercore, but that is not uncommon in young trees, especially in arid conditions like mine. Many varieties will outgrow it eventually. Overall, the best specimens this year so far, which are still not quite ripe, compete well with the best apples that I tasted in this session, and are certainly above the average apple in my large collection. I will go out on a limb and say it is not going to be as good as Bite Me!, the first apple to bloom out of the this group of Wickson seedlings, but it looks promising. Sometimes trees have to fruit a few times to come into their best quality. That seems to go for not just new seedlings and new grafted trees, but possibly even for branches grafted onto established trees. I’m not sure why that would be. It’s just a casual observation.
This apple is rather dense and firm fleshed, unlike Bite Me! which has a more open, juicy and easy to eat texture. It also has thicker skin. The resemblance to Wickson is apparent, though it is somewhere in size between Bite Me and that apple. It is not tiny, but it is small. As long as the quality is there, size is not that important. A mediocre small apple is much less interesting however, so it better shape up. I have quite a few apples on the branch this year. Hopefully I’ll get some good representative fruits in the coming weeks, and you’ll probably hear more about it before the season is over.
Yesterday I pulled out two varieties of apple from storage to taste, GoldRush and Pomo Sanel. It is one thing to find apples that keep for a long time without rotting, but that does not mean they will retain flavor or keep a good eating texture. Some apples will actually gain flavor with maturity, at least to a point, but most will lose flavor.
These were picked later than they should have been. I suspect if picked earlier, they would store a little better.
Gold Rush is well known for keeping very well, even without refrigeration. I have specimens from the refrigerator as well as from a cold room. All were picked late The apples from the fridge have retained some crunch, though they are not like the super crispy apples that you might find in a grocery store this time of year. Those apples are stored under controlled conditions with inert gasses to hold them in stasis until they are shipped to stores. The flavor has developed well in storage. When this apple is first picked it is edgy and harsh. I wouldn't say the flavor has improved from a month ago, but it is still complex and full with enough acidity to get my attention.
The apples stored in the shed were wrinkled and drying out. None though showed any signs of decay. Their texture is rubbery, with no hint of mealiness. The flesh compresses, then starts to break into pieces. The flavor and sugar are concentrated and delicious. I could see storing a lot of these and drying the oldest left over fruits in the spring. They would be half dry already.
All in all GoldRush is an excellent home orchard apple, and should be considered in any small collection of varieties. It combines long keeping, flavor, good cultural traits and some disease resistance. Out of all my dwarf interstem trees, it has the best, easiest to care for, form and high vigor.
Pomo Sanel is a rare apple, barely known among a few fruit enthusiasts in this area, let alone anywhere else.
Pomo Sanel was stored in the refrigerator. It gradually lost it's crispness. It is not meally or mushy, at least not yet, but all remnants of crispness are gone. I was hoping it would go rubbery instead, but it didn't. The flavor has changed, less complex, more appley, banana still prominent. There is some acidity, but the sprightliness is gone. I could eat plenty of these, but it is not equal to it's fridge mate at this point and will surely decline from here. Like GoldRush, it was probably harvested too late and might do better in storage if picked at an earlier stage, as soon as it reaches full size, but before the sugars develop.
Pomo Sanel's most interesting attribute is it's late ripening in late December or usually January here. Given it's high quality straight off the tree at that season, it's a winner here in my climate. Whether it will store well enough beyond 4 weeks or so if harvested earlier and treated well remains to be seen, but keeping up with the likes of Pink Lady and GoldRush is a tall order and it no doubt won't. A really good storage apple can be very good, even excellent, but it's still not the same as a tree ripened apple kissed by frost and brought into it's prime in cold weather, nor is the whole eating experience the same. That paradigm is where Pomo Sanel and hopefully it's offspring will shine. I sent out many seeds this winter all around the world, so everyone cross your fingers and we'll check in about 8 or 10 years from now.
I'm interested in breeding with both of these and have made some crosses. If I'm lucky, some of those seedling crosses might bear fruit this year.
I commonly get requests for scion wood or questions about where to find scions in general, or of a particular variety. Below are my best recommendations.
Scion Exchanges and Swaps
These are usually free, sometimes with a small entrance fee, but I've never heard of one where the scions are not free. There are more and more of them, though large areas of the U.S. still don't have any. Search the web for terms like scion exchange, scion swap, grafting class or grafting workshop along with your large city, state or region. If there are none nearby, maybe you can find some like minded people and eventually start one. To my way of thinking, there should be one within easy driving distance of everywhere :)
Online Trading, Fruit Communities and Fruit and Nut Organizations
Below are listed some online forums, destinations and organizations where people trade cuttings and seeds. They generally are also places to meet like minded people in your region. The best information and collaborations are often local.
NORTH AMERICAN SCION EXCHANGE Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/scion... Started by my Friends Andy and Little John because they had no nearby scion exchanges. There is a website too, but the facebook group is most active
Home Orchard Society (Pacific Northwest): http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/ An excellent organization for NorthWesterners. From what I hear, their scion swap is one of the largest and best in the country.
Temperate Orchard Society: Apparently cloned the enormous Nick Botner apple collection, so they should have over 2000 apple varieties. (scion sales) http://www.temperateorchardconservancy.org/contact-us/
SEEDS Durham North Carolina: http://www.seedsnc.org/2018/01/upcoming-grafting-workshop-scion-exchange/
Michigan Home Orchard group: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/mi-home-orchard Group by YouTube user Prof Kent for michigan folks.
Finally, you can buy scions. They have become more expensive, but if you really want a variety and you can't find it anywhere else, it might be worthwhile. Also, once you get interesting varieties, it gives you trading leverage. I sell scions sometimes, but I rarely trade, because I'm not collecting much anymore. Also, the apples that remain on my wants list are very rare, some probably even extinct or at least lost. If you want a specific variety, just search the net for the variety name and the work scion. You might be surprised to find some for sale, or to find at least someone that grows that variety or has it for trade. If I have scions for trade, they will be in the webstore around January and February. Unless you have some amazing rare stuff to trade, don't contact me about trading. I like to help people and will go out of my way to help serious collectors and breeders, but I get way too many requests. If you can find it anywhere else, please do.
If were to make a list of scion wood sources, they would all be on this page on the GrowingFruit.org site anyway, so I'll just refer you there.... http://growingfruit.org/t/scionwood-sources/3346
Grafting, the collecting fruit varieties and scion trading are fast growing in popularity, and for good reason. It's always an adventure finding out about new varieties, tracking them down and fruiting them out. I hope it grows enormously in the future. It is important to the preservation of food plant diversity that everyday citizens grow, share, eat, talk about and even create many different varieties. Even at it's most diverse, the larger industrial food model will always lack true diversity and soul. When there are quite possibly tens of thousands of apple varieties, even 20 varieties in markets looks pretty weak.
Feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you know of other good online communities, organizations or annual scion exchanges. Happy hunting
Anyone that has followed my apple content for a while knows I'm obsessed with late hanging apples. In this video I'm tasting 9 late winter apples, mostly off the tree and a few out of storage. Results below.
Some favorites, roughly in order.
1. Katherine. Named for early 20th century apple breeder Albert Etter's wife, this is an exceptional apple. It hangs very late and seems to be at it's best sometime in December. This late specimen has a rich multi-dimensional flavor. It was popular at new year dinner last night, one person described it as like wine. The flavor is not very describable, but it's deep and sophisticated. Earlier, it is often less complex and just pleasantly flavored. It has an unbeatable texture when it's at it's best, with a very light crisp flesh and plenty of juice. This would be in my top 10 apples as grown here. I have never stored it to speak of.
2. Whitwick Pippin: This beats out Katherine for intensity and any one person might easily prefer it to that apple. It is more intensely flavored, complex, quite sweet but also acidic. The texture at this time of year is better and I suspect it will prove to be a later hanger in the long run. I only scored Katherine higher because I am more compelled to eat it for whatever reasons and I would never argue with that.
3. Gold Rush: Even out of storage, this scores 3rd, although Lady Williams would likely go in this spot if it were ripe. These have held good texture and although they have picked up or developed some off flavors in the fridge, they are quite good, with a forward acidity, plenty of sugar and plenty going on in the flavor department. Thumbs up for a storage apple.
4: Pomo Sanel: Some specimens at this apple at this time will beat some specimens of Gold Rush, but today, gold rush won by a small margin. This is a very rare apple discovered locally. It bears some resemblance and eating characteristics to gold rush and it seems quite possible that it is from the same grimes' golden/golden delicious line that Gold rush is part of. Pomo Sanel is more rubbery in texture and will hold it's shape very well when cooked. I threw a slice in my coconut milk shrimp soup base the other day and let it boil for a while and it held up very well. I think you could probably get away with canning it for apple pie filling.
5. Hauer Pippin: I've not been able to get super excited about this apple, but it has some good characteristics. It is a rare apple outside of Northern and Central California. It was originally discovered in Central California and is rare outside of this state, though I hear it was grown commercially at one time. It is a very beautiful apple and hangs well to the tree through the first half of winter. The flavor is somewhat odd to me, but this specimen makes me think I should keep a branch of it.
Lady Williams would be higher on this list if it were ripe now, but it is a couple weeks too early. It may even deserve to be before Hauer Pippin, even now.
More apples could be on this list, those are just the ones I had to taste on this new years day. Here is a previous video on some of the same apples and others.
The fable I heard is that someone discovered a late ripening apple on a local homestead, took cuttings, named it Pomo Sanel and it shows up occasionally at scion exchanges. Like any such apple, it may be an older named variety, but I don't know that anyone has identified it as such. Although I'm not crazy about the Banana overtones, it's late hanging and richness of flavor have impressed me, and I think it would be found worthy of propagation by some. If nothing else, the genes that allow it to hang late into the winter are worth preserving.
Very late hanging apples are one of my great apple interests. Walking out to my trees crunching through the frost to munch on a sugary, juicy, flavorful apple is something I've become attached to. I recall in previous years that Pomo Sanel is usually my second latest apple, ripening in January, between a group of Christmas apples like pink parfait and Katherine and Lady Williams ripening February 1st. This year it is earlier. Apples from storage can be quite good at times, but they can also be less than optimal and may pick up off flavors. Besides, letting apples hang does not preclude storing them as well, even the same variety. I think this apple may be better if picked at some point and then stored. By that I mean that it may be more reliable and I might have fewer losses to rot in the stem wells or the occasional cracked apple, and that ultimately the apples would last later. Even for a durable apple, hanging through rain and freezing weather an take it's toll. But I would still let a few hang, because I like having them off the tree. Another thing to consider is storage space. I have no root cellar. I have unheated rooms and a small fridge. Storage of apples is not convenient for me. And I was just last night trying to stuff things in the fridge because the crisper drawers are mostly full of apples. In the end, I think a combination of both hanging late apples and storage, will prove the best strategy to carry fresh eating apples through. Some varieties will keep long, but will not hang late. I suspect that most long hangers will store well if picked at the right time.
Pomo Sanel is well above average for winter durability. It will show cracking on some fruits though. It also frequently shows separation of the skin from the stem down in the stem well. It also seems to dehydrate naturally on the tree a little bit.
As long storing apples go, I suspect that many others may do better than this one. Dehydration and resultant shriveling are commonly considered a fault of storage apples and Pomo Sanel is already showing signs of shriveling on the tree. It is not always a deal killer though. Sometimes they will retain an acceptable texture as they lose water. A good example is that some Russet apples will wrinkle up and become rubbery in storage. Given the tough flesh and somewhat rubbery tooth of some of the specimens on the tree now, I suspect it will have a partial tendency toward that effect. Other apples will soften in their own ways. Some become what might be called tender, but without being at all mushy or mealy. I personally enjoy coarse grained tender apples. This one also seems to have a tendency in that direction. Although they were clearly picked too late for best storage life and quality, I do have some put away in the fridge now, and am interested to see how they do. I must have stored a few in the past, but I don't recall.
My general impression of Pomo Sanel is that it's a gem in the rough. It is not a highly bred apple, like modern specimens of perfection being created now. It has some character with it's freckles and somewhat uneven matte colored skin. The dense flesh requires a little jaw work, something modern people don't get enough of anyway, so that could be a plus.
The flavor is pretty complex, with maybe something like a fruit smoothie effect. The most prominent flavor is banana. It's not a sickly sweet banana flavor, but it's definitely there on top, like it or not. The sugar is not overly high, but very adequate and compliments the level of acidity well. Intensity of flavor is definitely above average. It's no Suntan, but it asserts itself for sure.
Pomo Sanel's very late hanging characteristics got my attention. I've been meaning to make some crosses with it, but this is the first year I did. I crossed it with the queen of late hanging apples (in my orchard), the sleek, durable, beautiful, highly flavored, well behaved Lady Williams. She impressed someone, because she is one of the parents of Pink Lady, an excellent late hanging apple in it's own right that I've eaten off the tree here at the new year. Another potential cross would be Gold Rush and Pomo Sanel. Gold Rush is by all accounts an outstanding storage apple and has disease resistance genes. The ones I'm eating out of storage now are quite good around Christmas. They both have Banana as a prominent flavor when ripe, but other flavors differ a little. Gold Rush has more spice in it. Gold rush is not durable on the tree though, where it cracks and declines in quality. Both seem productive. Gold rush has Golden Delicious and given the characteristics and appearance of this apple, it wouldn't surprise me if it comes from the Grime's Golden/Golden Delicious line. Other late hanging apples that come to mind as possible candidates for crossing are Whitwick Pippin, Allen's Everlasting, Pink Parfait, Grenadine, Granny Smith, Katherine (of Etter) and Pink Lady. Since I've made crosses using some of those late apples already I also hope to have seedlings that could potentially provide breeding material. Who knows what the limits of quality, hanging and storage apples might be if we keep crossing these late lines.
I'm saving some seeds from this interesting apple to distribute this winter, but I can't send out scions of Pomo Sanel, or anything else, due to disease issues in the orchard. I may at some point try to sleuth out a new source of scions to distribute to people that might grow it and share it out. I have no idea what level and duration of cold it can stand. Even if picking it for storage, it has to ripen into at least late November here. It's okay to pick apples early for storage, but they should be fully sized up. The picture below shows Pomo Sanel in mid November still looking a little lean and green. Your mileage may vary of course.
One thing I feel sure of is that this variety is worth saving, and it is certainly not remotely safe at this point. Maybe the longest standing, most knowledgeable and well connected local fruit collector/experimenter I know asked me for some mosaic virus infected scions a couple of years ago. I'm sure there are more copies out there among the local fruit collectors somewhere, but if it's not distributed much by any of us, it will fizzle out like so many others have. That is assuming that it is a unique variety and just an unidentified more common named variety.
This year I have three of apple breeder Albert Etter's red fleshed apples fruiting. They are very unique and interesting apples, though they still represent unfinished work. Red fleshed apples will be coming more and more into the public eye over the coming years. They could have arrived much sooner had anyone taken up Etter's work, which was already well started. With all their faults, these apples are still worth growing. Also a short video on Gold Rush, which might be the apple I've seen most universally endorsed by home growers for flavor, keeping ability and disease resistance.
When I moved here 12 years ago, one of the first things I did was start to plan my fruit orchards. I well knew then that the time to plant a fruit tree is ten years ago, now I might extend that to 15. I began doing research on apple varieties, which I was very unfamiliar with. I figured there must be hundreds of them, but the best resource I had available was a thick book called Cornucopia, a source book of edible plants which only listed a few of what I later found out were probably tens of thousands of named varieties. I also talked to friend and fruit explorer Freddy Menge, who made his best recommendations at the time. I had helped Mark Dupont of Sandy Bar nursery graft his first batch of fruit trees many years before, and had an outstanding favor owed for fruit trees whenever I finally got my own place. I called in that favor. Looking through their catalogue, they said they had a variety called cherry cox that had become a homestead favorite. I was intrigued. They had no trees to sell that year, but Mark sent me a scion, one of the first scions I grafted onto frankentree. I've since sent out lots of scions to other people all over the country.
Cherry Cox has not disappointed. It really does taste like cherries, among other flavors. Few descriptions mention that it has a cherry flavor, suggesting even that the name is for the redder color it has. There is no doubt though that the name is from the flavor, though I don't doubt that it does not always develop and some say they can't detect it at all. It was also precocious, being one of the first apples to ever fruit on frankentree and one of the most consistent since. If anything, it sets too much fruit, though it has taken years off as almost any apple will do when poorly managed. It seems healthy enough so far, but I can't say too much about that as apple diseases are just getting a real foothold here. It does get scab, and I think it could be called moderately susceptible. Don't quote me on that, it's just a vague impression.
Cherry Cox is a sport of the very famous Cox's Orange Pippin. A sport is a bud mutation. One bud on a tree mutates into something new and thus begins a new variety, no tree sex required. While many sports are very minor variations on the parent tree, Cherry Cox seems to be considerably different than it's parent. It tastes different, performs different, allegedly keeps longer, and I'd just about bet that if you planted rows of each side by side there would be some obvious differences. I was at my friend Tim Bray's orchard and his Cox's Orange Pippins were notably small and the trunks and branches completely covered in lichens, unlike the other trees. They are known for their poor growability and have no doubt only survived by the virtue of exceptional flavor. Cox's Orange Pippin is widely used in apple breeding because of it's eating quality, and is probably the apple most commonly said to be the best out of hand eating apple in the world. Cox's Orange Pippin is indeed one of the few apples I've ever eaten worthy of the classification "best". Even at it's best, Cherry cox is still not in that category. It's a good lesson though that Cox's Orange Pippin seems to do poorly under my conditions and cherry cox is consistently good to very good.
Flavor wise, Cherry Cox has a lot going on, like it's parent Cox's Orange Pippin it is complex. Obvious flavors are cherry, something almost like cherry cough drops, but in a good way, Anise is also present and I've detected some flavor of spice. There is certainly more going on, other fruit flavors, but I'm not good at picking them out. If I were to change things about Cherry Cox, I would. It could use more sugar, which would bring the flavors out more. Have you ever noticed how much better fruit tastes when you sprinkle sugar on it? It's not just that it's sweeter, sugar is to fruit what salt is to meat and savory foods. Cook a fantastic soup with no salt and you will barely taste the potential of it's flavor. Add salt to it and boom, flavor city. The cherry flavor develops early in cherry cox, but the sugar develops late. It is a fairly acidic apple, and maybe even tart before it gets really ripe. I would not reduce the acidity, I would just balance it with more sugar. More sugar would also make it a richer flavored apple. It can be a little thin tasting at times. More scab resistance wouldn't hurt. In the Beauty department it lacks nothing. It's is a beautiful apple. it can grow plenty large under good cultural conditions, though it is not generally a very large apple. Cherry Cox is a little known and little grown apple. I doubt it has great potential as a broader market apple, but it has huge potential as a small scale specialty orchard and farmer's market apple. And then there is the breeding potential.
Looking toward improvement, I think cherry cox is very promising breeding material. If nothing else for the cherry flavor, but it also must carry most of the exceptional flavor gene pool of Cox's Orange Pippin. My own breeding efforts include Cherry Cox crossed with various other apples. If my efforts don't breed anything exceptional, maybe they will produce something that is worth using in further breeding. I've crossed it with several red fleshed apples in the hopes that I might be lucky enough to co-mingle the berry flavors of blood apples with C.C.'s complexity and cherry flavor. I've also crossed it with Sweet Sixteen, which has sometimes a cherry candy component, while also being a good grower and carrying some disease resistance. I've crossed it with Wickson for higher sugar content and unique flavor and probably others I'm forgetting about. I think Golden Russet might be a good candidate since it is one of the best apples I've ever tasted, and it also has an extremely high sugar content. I'd like to see more crosses made along these lines. I would like to see Cherry Cox crossed with sweet 16 and Sweet 16 also crossed with the generally scab susceptible red fleshed apples, and the offspring of both back crossed in an attempt to keep Sweet Sixteen's scab resistance, while reinforcing the cherry component and hoping for a red fleshed offspring.... or something along those lines. I don't know anything about breeding for scab resistance, but the information on dominance of traits is available out there somewhere if one cared to look for it. I've got all of those genetic crosses made, and then some, so fingers crossed.
For various reasons, I'll have few Cherry Cox scions to offer for grafting, if any. Being uncommon, it may be hard to find scions, but I think with a little effort they can be found. The more that people grow it, the more scions will be available. If you have a scion exchange in your area, that is a good place to look. Online scion trading and fruit discussions can be found at GrowingFruit.org and The North American Scion Exchange. Information on grafting can now by found on my Youtube channel and on this website.
Other apples in my cherry cox tasting video that are worth mentioning are:
Egremont Russet: A nice russet. Not up to the best russets as it is grown here, but a good performer and very good at it's best. Stephen Hayes in the UK is a big fan. Here is his video review.
Sam Young is an Irish apple that is rare in the US. My small branch is just starting to fruit, but seems promising. It's somewhat russeted and is also known as Irish Russet. I'll be keeping an eye on this one. It is hard and very sweet. Below are some old descriptions.
Sam Young: Fruit small, flattish, about an inch and half from the eye to the stalk, and two inches in its transverse diameter; eye remarkably large, having some of the calyx attached to it; colour yellowish clouded with russet, reddish to the sun; very apt to crack; flesh yellowish, firm, crisp, sweet and well flavoured. In use from the beginning of November to January. Tree flat headed, shoots declining, of a light brown colour ; leaves sub-rotund, acuminate, coarsely serrated, upper surface shining, under slightly pubescent. An abundant bearer, and healthy on all soils.
Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, 1820
Sam Young, aka Irish Russet:
Fruit of a smallish size, somewhat globular, flattened, about one inch and three quarters deep, and two inches and a half in diameter. Eye remarkably wide and open, in a broad depression. Stalk short. Skin bright yellow, with minute brown spots, and a considerable quantity of russet, especially round the stalk; in some specimens red on the sunny side, usually cracking. Flesh inclining to yellow, mixed with green; tender, and melting. Juice plentiful, sweet, with a delicious flavour, scarcely inferior to that of the Golden Pippin.
An Irish dessert apple, of high reputation, ripe in November, and will keep good for two months.
The merits of this very valuable apple were made known in 1818 by Mr. Robertson, of Kilkenny. It is certainly one of the best of our modern apples, and cannot have too general a cultivation.
A Guide to the Orchard and Fruit Garden: Or, An Account of the Most Valuable Fruits Cultivated in Great Britain, 1833
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It’s bloom season and time to be out pollinating apple blossoms during sunny late mornings and early afternoons. Since it’s raining, I’m going to write down some thoughts today on promising directions in apple breeding. As I’ve pointed out elsewhere before, the interests and goals of large scale commercial breeders who have bred most of the apples now available in stores, are to an important extent different than the goals that benefit home growers and home breeders, and even to some extent, consumers. While the apple is capable of much further development, entire genetic areas are ignored or even intentionally bred out. Some of these genetics may actually be desirable to us for various reasons. Not only do I think they are worthy of pursuit, I feel we have almost a responsibility to pursue and improve some of them if we are to begin to re-take partial responsibility for our own food supply and not simply hand it over to a system who’s first priority is profit.
The big breeders mostly breed for commercial production now. That means apples have to meet a lot of criteria and be acceptable to growers, shippers, wholesalers and grocers. Of course they have to be acceptable to consumers too, but with a limited number of choices the consumer by extension has a limited education in their selection and critical estimation of the apples widely available. Most Americans will have a preference for which apple they like, or what style of apple, but they are familiar with the available options only, and may not even know, for instance, what a russet apple is. The market has ideas about what we want and will buy as consumers. Whether those perceptions are accurate or not, I can't say for sure, but even if they are accurate now, I think the market can be trained, or retrained, to want and like other options. For instance, Cuyama a large organic orchard in California took a chance on Crimson Gold, a very small apple bred by Albert Etter in the first half of the 20th century. As far as I can tell, they are doing quite well with it. The apples are no more than a few bites worth, but bags of them appear in the market here every fall and I’ve heard that they are also available on the East coast from the same grower. It’s no wonder. It’s an excellent apple, with more flavor than a typical large apple. Once someone bites into one, they are likely to become a fan. More on Crimson Gold below.
FLAVORS, AND OTHER EATING QUALITIES v.s. DISEASE RESISTANCE
While growth characteristics and disease resistance can be important when it comes to actually getting apples into our hands, we eat them for texture, flavor, sugar and to a lesser extent appearance and size. And it is those things that are inspiring to me. It seems as though we should be able to take any type of apple that we can come up with by mixing crazy flavors and extending seasons etc. and eventually have something like it in a disease resistant apple with long enough effort and intention. But if we pursue disease resistance first, then our options for parents are much more limited. So for me, the pursuit of apple breeding is largely a feeling out process to see what can be created in terms of the things that make us want to eat apples in the first place.
I don’t talk about disease resistance much, because I don’t think about it much. Disease pressure is fairly light here in our dry summer climate. I’ve noticed some increase over the years and it will likely become more of a problem as I build up a reservoir of disease pathogens and pests. No doubt they’ll entrench themselves along with my establishing trees. I understand that folks in less favorable circumstances would naturally look toward disease resistance as a primary goal and I think it’s an important long term goal and a great endeavor. There are still plenty of good apples to work with that are disease resistant, including heirlooms. In fact, I’m sure there are more than ever due to the efforts of large scale breeding programs. While I choose to keep it simple and not avail myself of much information related to plant breeding, there is no doubt much to be gained from studying how the various disease resistant traits are passed or reinforced. No doubt much has been learned on the subject, which might be found out by reading scientific papers or communicating with breeders at universities.
But for me now, I cross whatever I’m moved to cross and let the cards fall where they will. I’ve already seen horrid scab on a couple of seedlings, but the information I want is what the apple turns out like as far as other characteristics go and I’ll worry about the rest later, or let someone else worry about it. I’m particularly interested in the idea of introducing new exotic flavors into the lines I want to work with. The most intriguing are the cherry and fruit candy flavors and whatever psychotic combination of flavors are contained in sweet 16. Fortunately, one of the other flavor groups I’m fascinated with, the berry flavors, are found most strongly, in red fleshed apples, one of my other great interests. Combining the former and the latter to find out what happens is high on my list and well underway already. I’m also interested in pineapple flavor, but it is not super common in any apples I have fruited, at least not strongly, except in Suntan, which is a triploid and very hard to pollinate. I think I’ve gotten one viable seed from suntan over the years for all my efforts, and it died. And then there are the crab apples with the unique flavor they bring to the table and which Etter showed in Vixen and Amberoso, can be brought into larger apples. My seedling, BITE ME!, a small to medium sized apple, but certainly not a crab, has enough of that special taste to be it’s star flavor component. I’m hoping that crossing larger tending apples with that flavor component, like BITE ME! and Vixen, with other larger Wickson offspring will reinforce that flavor trait in normal sized apples. Vixen is the most promising large parent I’ve tasted in this line.
SMALL APPLES AND CRABAPPLE GENES
Once I realized that the remarkable flavor characteristics and high sugar content of Albert Etter’s Wickson was due in large part to the crab apple genetics used by Etter in breeding, my gears started turning. Later I was able to taste some of the other Etter crab derived apples, which have similar flavors, including Crimson Gold, Vixen and Muscat de Venus. I feel quite sure that small apples with concentrated flavor and high sugar could be a class of popular apple. You may have noticed as I have that large size often comes with diluted flavor. Breeding large apples with concentrated flavor and high sugar is a worthy goal as well, and it is possible to do, at least to some extent, but there is no good reason to neglect small apples. If someone bites into a truly remarkable miniature apple, there will be no turning back. Is it just coincidence that both Wickson and Chestnut Crab show up so often on favorite lists? Nope, not a coincidence.
I’m fairly well convinced that the small, intense apple endeavor alone would be a worthy pursuit for an amateur breeder. Collect all the very best crabs, along with other interesting apples to breed in other traits such as flavors and keeping ability, and start mixing it all up. The crab derived apples Chestnut, Trailman and Wickson are all already excellent out of hand eating, and a great base to work from. There are also a lot of red fleshed crabs, though I don’t know of any that are dessert quality out of hand. I have made a lot of crab on crab crosses and have crossed wickson with many larger apples. My own thoughts are to continue crab on crab crosses, but also continue to breed crabs with remarkably flavored apples like cherry cox, sweet 16 and golden russet to shake it up a bit. I’m also mixing in a red fleshed crab called maypole and the red fleshed grenadine.
And why not go even smaller. My friend Becca sent me an unknown tiny crab that hangs in clusters like cherries and has yellow flesh. It was allegedly acquired out of an orchard at a North Carolina college. They are truly one bite apples, the size of a cherry. Most people would probably find them too tannic for munching, but they are sweet and delicious along with the pucker, and I love munching them down, seeds and all. The flesh is crisp and juicy and they hang on the tree well. I’m definitely working with Becca’s crab this year. Imagine the possibility of a one bite apple that grows in clusters like cherries, and has very red flesh. The red pigment would bring berry flavors to the mix. Add some of the cherry flavors of Cherry Cox or Sweet Sixteen and that apple could be something else! It’s a project that’s not going to come to fruition overnight, if it's even possible, so I’ll not likely see it in my lifetime, but I can damn well start the ball rolling and see what happens. I also think such an apple could be marketable if it was good enough. It could be sold on the antioxidant angle since they will contain a lot of antioxidant system stimulants. It will certainly inherit more natural polyphenol content than the average apple, because of the tannic nature of crabs. There is also the red flesh, which contains anthocyanins, widely promoted as healthy. Even further, there are the seeds, which contain cyanic compounds shown to have health benefits as well. The flavor of the seeds also reinforce the cherry aspect. Give it a great name and sell them as cherry apples in clusters. Who would not at least try them?
I have not sampled all that many red fleshed apples considering the number that seem to be out there, with more surfacing all the time, but my general impression is that they are badly in need of improvement all around. My suspicion is that being mostly from primitive genes and receiving very little attention in the past from breeders, the red fleshed trait likely comes with a package of other less desirable genes equating to high acidity, low sugar and not so great texture. Teasing those genes apart and refining selections to get the traits we want from other apples, while retaining the red flesh may be something of an undertaking. Albert Etter started the process, and while I haven’t tried all of his red fleshed creations, my impression so far is they could use improving. Greenmantle nursery has put trademark names on some apples that they allege to have salvaged from Etter's experimental orchards, but aside from Pink Parfait, I can see why Etter would not have released any of them. Pink Parfait, which has only pink mottling in the flesh and very mild berry flavors, is the only significantly red fleshed apple I've tasted that has very high desert quality. The others would never stand on their own merits without the red flesh, as interesting as that makes them. The others I’m most familiar with are as follows:
Grenadine: dark pink to reddish with excellent fruit punch/berry flavor. Variable quality on the same tree in the same year, lots of early drops and some of the apples go mealy early. Variable size. In a very good year it is grainy when ripe enough for good eating and high flavor, but more often it is mealy by that time. Sugar is not particularly high. Tannin content fairly high. But that flavor! The juice is excellent and it's a heavy and reliable producer for me.
Rubaiyat: Very dark pink to almost velvety light red, strong berry flavor, but maybe not as complex or punch like as grenadine. Seems to be very Scab prone, drops from tree, Often mealy by the time it is really ripe, but it can have a nice texture and it is a somewhat more refined apple than Grenadine. Not all that sweet. At it's very best it makes decent eating and has excellent "red" flavor. It is a very nice looking apple when it escapes the scab.
Pink Pearl: Not particularly rich or flavorful or sugary. A good cooking apple. Better texture than the above apples. Light pink flesh.
There are a bunch of commercial breeders and university programs now working on red fleshed apples. I don’t know what took them so long. Albert Etter knew 80 years or more ago that they would be popular, but he just didn’t quite have time to get them off the ground before he died and no one took up his important work. Any red fleshed apple breeding program should be assessing his apples as possible breeding stock. I have successfully passed the remarkable Grenadine flavor on to a seedling that I’m already hopeful will best it’s parent (even though I’ve only fruited two apples of it, and one was stolen by a raccoon!) I’m hoping to get a few more this year. It isn’t going to be an outstanding dessert apple, I can tell that already, but if it’s better than Grenadine that’s a start.
I haven’t talked to him in a while, but I seem to remember my friend Freddy Menge saying that about 25% of the red fleshed apple seeds he’s planted yield apples with red flesh. Once crosses with non red fleshed apples are made though, I'm hoping those apples can be crossed with each other to reinforce the trait and bring it out since both parents will carry the gene. That is the experiment anyway. I make crosses of non-red fleshed apples with multiple red fleshed apples with just that plan in mind. I’m also hopeful about crossing the resulting red fleshed x non-redflesh crosses with Pink Parfait and William’s Pride, both only slightly red fleshed, but both excellent desert apples in every other way. You see where I’m headed I hope. Take the best apples with red flesh, even if it’s not very much, and cross those to reinforce the red and hopefully also retain the desirable dessert qualities. That is why I’m crossing William’s Pride and Pink Parfait this year, both great apples with some pink in the flesh. Check back in about 6 or 8 years, lol.
Russets are another neglected but very promising line of genetics. The phenomenon of russeting has been selected against in apple breeding for a long time now, so it’s not likely that large scale breeders will be pursuing a true russet apple, or even using them in the mix at all. When I had good russets for sale at farmer’s market, people bought them. They are somewhat wary at first, but once bitten, they almost always buy some. Heirlooms are big, flavor is becoming more and more important to people, food is huge, foodie-ism is huge, and because of all that, and their inherent value, russets should become popular again. There is nothing like them. They have their own character and uses. Not only should we not let them die out or languish in the background neglected by the monetary interests that drive our food systems now, but they should be taken in hand and improved, which has probably rarely been attempted due to appearance alone.
The best russet I’ve tasted, and still one of the very best apples I’ve ever tasted for that matter, is the Golden Russet, a classic American apple. At it’s best it has a well balanced symphony of flavor. The flavor is concentrated and lasting. It also has an extremely high sugar content and was once widely employed in cider making. So, what’s not to like? Well, culturally, it’s a pain in the ass. It grows lanky and tippy with long bare interstems. It’s hard to know how to prune it and I’m inclined to just let it grow and then hack off some bigger branches once in a while. I’ve never seen it to be particularly productive either and I hear the same from others in the area. Perhaps low productivity is the cost for all that flavor and goodness, but it if it doesn’t have to be so then I want more! Compare that to another American classic The Roxbury Russet, which is better behaved and more productive. But alas, though very good and very similar, Roxbury Russet is not the apple that Golden Russet is when it comes to flavor. If I had Roxbury here, I’d probably cross the two of them this year with a view toward an all around better russet. I may cross Golden Russet with Ashmeads Kernel this season for similar reasons. Another very high sugar russet I’ve been trying to acquire and fruit for possible breeding purposes is the Golden Harvey. I’ve run into a couple of other breeders online working with Golden Harvey.
To anyone well versed in heirloom apples and apple types, the thought of discarding russets from the world of apples would be absolutely horrifying. Some of the best English, French and American apples are russets. A person could stay pretty busy just collecting, archiving, researching, testing, tasting, photographing, documenting, making available and breeding russet apples and they’d be doing the world a great favor. Another of many things I’d love to do, but that someone else will just have to do.
VERY LATE HANGING APPLES
Extremely late hanging apples represent another whole area of possibility waiting to be expanded and improved. Though my latest hanging apple, Lady Williams, is ripe February first, I’m inclined to think the season could be pushed later. Some apples store really well, but to have fresh apples straight off the tree on a frozen February morning is another thing. Also, the same apples could probably be harvested in January and store all the better for being picked so late. I’ve found sound seedling apples hanging in a hedgerow here in March. They were the pretty sour and useless, but that’s beside the point. They were not a mushy mess. We just need those kind of genes in a better eating apple. Granny Smith, Lady Williams and Pink Lady are all promising apples for this line and all related, Granny smith coming from the very late, long keeping French Crab, Lady Williams from Granny and Pink Lady from Lady Williams. Other Late hangers that I will probably use, or have used, are Pink Parfait (December), Grenadine (December), Pomo Sanel a selection from a local homestead (January) and Whitwick Pippin (December at least).
I’ve looked for other late hangers, but not concertedly enough to find much. I’m sure there are many more out there, but it will take some effort to find them. Others will not have been noticed, either because the owners always pick them early, or because they are growing in cold regions where the fruit can’t hang so long. I can hang any of these in temps down to and possibly a little below 20 degrees f, though some will be partly damaged by cracking near the stem well, probably due to ice forming there, and may then start to rot. Others varieties would probably hang that long in good condition, if they didn’t crack so easily. Many apples will hang late, but there is a clear difference between something like Lady Williams or Pink Lady not even ripening well until very late, or improving in storage if picked and held for a while, and some apple that looks well enough hanging there, but is declining in eating quality all along instead of improving. My most promising acquisition aside from the two Ladies and Granny Smith, is Pomo Sanel. I don’t know much about it, just that it came from a local homestead. It has some similarity to Grime’s Golden and Golden Delicious in form and color. The apples hang very late. They have a coarse flesh and fairly rich flavor, though not quite equal in quality to some of the others. Pomo Sanel is a little more prone to cracking and not as late as the Granny line, but it is still promising and I’ll probably use it to make some crosses this year.
Onward we go into the adventure of apple seeding, breeding and selection. Those who prefer instant gratification and sure things are probably better off messing about with peaches, which will usually yield decent fruit with less variation from the parents. But, peaches don’t come in a jillion sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. You either get it or you don’t. If someone can read this article and not become excited about playing mad scientist mixing apple genes to see the results, they should go do whatever moves them. I’ve run into people that are doing the same thing I am. The apple renaissance is afoot! Not just the apple revival, but the renaissance. A new era in which the diversity and awesomeness possible in apples will be realized more than ever.
If I had to do it over, I’d do even more research than I did. I’d collect potential breeding parents more carefully, collecting and testing everything I could get with very intense flavor, especially fruit, pineapple, berry, cherry and almond. I’d collect as many allegedly great or super long keeping old school russets as possible and as many out-of-hand edible crabs as possible. I would also try to acquire more good red fleshed apples to work with. Albert Etter said something to the effect that breeding up new apples was as simple as breeding up good dairy stock, just start with the best herd you can. That means either trying out apples that someone else grew, or more likely growing them out yourself for assessment, a several year process, even when using dwarf stock or grafting onto established trees. Etter trialed about 500 apple varieties and thought most of them were not worth growing. By choosing the best of those to breed with, he said that he improved on the average of those 500 in the first generation.
I'm very interested in high quality crabs with high sugar or unique taste, truly amazing russets, better red fleshed dessert apples and extremely late hanging apples that are still crisp and solid on the tree after new years as well as being good eating. If they hang till March and are just okay eating, I'm still interested. Please contact me if you can help with any of those that are not already listed here.
I've been making tons of crosses this year. Below are some of the crosses and parents I've been using, though not necessarily in the order presented. I make up others as I go, like Coes Golden Drop x Muscat De Venus.
Becca’s crab w/ wickson, maypole, sweet 16, cherry cox, trailman, grenadine
Golden Russet w/ Ashmead’s, Egremont, Chestnut (most exciting, but can't make this one till next year), pendragon (red flesh, Welsh), Coe’s Golden Drop, Suntan, St. Edmund's Russet, Muscat de Venus, Roxbury russet (if I had it. I REALLY want to make this cross!)
Chestnut crab (if I had any blooms or pollen this year) w/ Golden Russet, , Muscat de Venus, St. Edmund’s Russet, Coe’s Golden Drop, Ashmead’s Kernel
Williams' Pride w/ Pink Parfait, Rubaiyat, Pendragon, Sunrise (early), Sweet 16
Cherry Cox w/ N. Spy, Vixen, Muscat de Venus, Sweet 16, Pink Lady, Becca's Crab, Pendragon, Maypole
Pink Parfait w/ Pendragon, Lady Williams, Williams' Pride, Pink Lady, My own seedling Grenadine x Lady Williams #11/12, and Pomo Sanel
Lady Williams w/ Pomo Sanel, Whitwick pippin, Allen’s Everlasting, Newtown Pippin
Sweet 16 w/ Vixen, William’s Pride, Cherry Cox, King David, etc...
Trailman w/ Becca’s, St. Edmund’s, Chestnut Crab, Maypole
Pomo Sanel w/ Goldrush, Lady Williams, Whitwick Pippin
THE FULL APPLE BREEDING PLAYLIST
This is a continuation of my apple breeding project and video series following the process from pollination to fruiting and hopefully beyond. In this season, the seedlings are cut off and grafted onto dwarfing roostock. The dwarfing stock should induce fruiting more quickly (or so the common assertion) and keep the trees to a small size in the crowded test rows. At 12 inches apart, in rows 6 feet apart, I can't afford large trees. I show the two grafts I commonly use and talk some other basics. Soon we'll be planting these in new beds to grow until they fruit.
BITE ME!, my new public domain (and open source for apple breeders ha ha) is officially out. I have scions in the webstore and a page dedicated to the apple here: www.skillcult.com/biteme Scions are available in the webstore till they run out. I may re-sort the short and thin ones in my fridge and relist after that to get as many out there as possible. I should also hopefully have them available for some years to come.
I'm also taking a two week break from making youtube content and probably any other content, in order to get life on the homestead back on track a little bit. Some stuff needs doing around the place. Here is a quick review of the Snow and Neally boy's axe. The short version is that the head looks pretty nice, but the handle was so, so and the hafting was pretty bad. The Council Tool Boy's axe seems like a much better at 31.00 shipped, currently less than half the price of the S&N. The council has a less pollished head, but I think has a much better designed handle and the wood on my counicl is much superior v.s. this S&N. Too bad I was hoping it would be better.
Third and final installment of my look back at 2016
Below is todays video, the latest installment in the now year and a half long homescale apple breeding project. We started at pollinating some blossoms in Spring of 2015, and now the trees are waiting another couple of months to be grafted out. Labeling is important because it is what allows me to keep track of each tree and to take notes on the apples as they begin to grow and fruit. The identifier code also tells me what the parents are and what year the pollination was made.
The fall colors on some of these seedlings is remarkable. All of the extremely red leaved seedlings have maypole as one parent. It is the most red fleshed apple I've used, but it also has very red leaves, flowers, bark and even some red in the wood. The downside is that, it is a very primitive apple with a lot of puckery tannins. The flavor is excellent, but it is pretty rough around the edges, and low in sugar on top of it.
One neat thing about Maypole is that it is a columnar style tree. That means it grows very upright and narrow. Not a single stem, but it has a very small footprint. It is also dwarfed, so it will never grow very tall. If I recall correctly, I think the columnar trait is dominant. So that will be interesting to watch for as these guys grow out.
One of the apples I crossed Maypole with is Wickson, which can get up to 25% sugar, the most I've ever heard of for an apple, so hopefully one of those 14 crosses might yield something sweeter. If nothing really eminently edible comes of those, they might still make good puckery cider apples if the sugar is raised, or something to use in further breeding. Because, remember, each new seedling is a product of both of it's parents, and carries a large compliment of Genes hiding within. If the high sugar trait does not express in the first generation, it may in a second generation, especially if it is back crossed to Wickson, or another Wickson seedling. Stay tuned for 5 or 6 years to find out!
and here is the entire series on this project...
While at Mark's Albert's house shooting the pineapple guava video, we sat down and tasted a couple of my new seedling apples, one of which has red flesh. I'm a little more positive about the red fleshed apple now than I was at the time. It developed a bit more sugar after spending a little more time in the fridge. It's not going to be an outstanding desert apple, but I would think now there's a chance it will outperform Grenadine. It looks better I think. It's a very attractive apple. The flavor is quite nice. After that we tasted some varietal grapes and Glenora grape juice and chatted about grapes a bit.
I went out and picked what apples were available to taste this past week. There were a few good'ns in there. More exciting is a couple of my seedlings that are looking rather nice. You can tell some things about an apple by just feeling it and looking at it. A couple just look like they are going to be hard dry fleshed and bitter. The one I taste in this video obviously looks more like something you'd expect to be eating. The most exciting though is a very red and beautiful apple which colored up amazingly even in nearly complete shade covered with stocking material to protect it from birds. Typically fruit colors up better with light. It is a cross between Grenadine and Lady Williams. Both are late apples and this may be a very late apple, though I'm inclined to think it is approaching ripeness fairly soon.
You can't judge an apple by it's cover. We certainly learned that from the red delicious era when strains of it were selected for better and better looking apples with worse and worse flavor and texture. But I'm hopeful for something tasty out of this with red flesh. The odds are against it of course. Most of my apple seedlings will be between mediocre, such as the one I taste in this video, and just plain bad. But even with the primitive, unrefined apples carrying undesirable characteristics that I'm using in many of my crosses, more will be edible than not and I'm expecting at least a smattering of apples worthy of further propagation by someone. This apple bears so much resemblance to Grenadine, that I'm hoping it has inherited it's beautiful and flavorful red flesh. Check it out.
The thing is that the red skin of grenadine is actually from the color of the flesh showing through the translucent skin. My hope beyond hope is that this is the case with the seedling. It seems unlikely though. We'll find out soon enough.
In the video I taste wickson, amberoso, crabby lady, king wickson, muscat de venus, something that may be katherine, something that may be ashmead's kernel, bedford pippin,high cross pippin, claygate pearmain, one of my seedlings, pink parfait, gold rush and others.