Posts filed under Fruit Review

Summer 2019 Updates and a New Early Wickson Seedling

A walk around video looking at projects and updates on biochar catch pit, apples ripe now, apple seedlings, grafts, tree training, nectarine growth etc...

I also appear to have a good new early ripening Wickson seedling that I’m just now assessing. That is pretty neat! It has some characteristics of my other Wickson seedling BITE ME! and some of the appearance of a third one from that same batch of seeds. The graft is not labelled, but I’m about 90%+ sure that it is a seedling which was taken off of a tree that was broken by a bear and re-grafted onto this other tree. I will graft it out elsewhere this year for future assessment. It only had a few apples on it this year. I’m going to say that it’s not astronomically good, but that it’s the 2nd or 3rd best ripe now, the other two good ones being William’s Pride and Kerry Pippin. I also didn’t see much scab on it.

I have now fruited and tasted 4 of the 4 original open pollinated Wickson seedlings that launched my apple seedling growing endeavors. The one that I named and have sent out scions for, BITE ME!, was the best eating apple of it’s season last year, another is okay, but just boring, a third was tiny, green and completely bland and this is the 4th. This new summer apple is definitely worth eating, but we’ll see how it shapes up as it matures and with weather variation over the years. All in all, that is pretty encouraging for a bunch of randomly pollinated apple seeds. I sent out hundreds of Wickson seeds last year. I can’t hardly imagine that some very good and interesting apples will not result. This year I will have more Wickson seed available, both open pollinated and pollinated.

Tasting Two Long Keeping Apples Out of Storage in Early March, GoldRush and Pomo Sanel

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.


GoldRush

These were picked later than they should have been.  I suspect if picked earlier, they would store a little better.

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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. 

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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

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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, still a little lean and green, but closer to where it should probably be picked for long storage

Pomo Sanel, still a little lean and green, but closer to where it should probably be picked for long storage

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.

Tasting 9 Late Winter Apples, The Good, The Great and The Mushy

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.

A Locally Discovered Rare, Late Hanging Apple, Pomo Sanel

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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. 

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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.

Pomo Sanel looking a little bit green on November 14th here in Northern California

Pomo Sanel looking a little bit green on November 14th here in Northern California

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.

Cherry Cox Apple Variety and a Few Others, Tasting and Review

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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.

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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.

Cherry Cox crossed with Rubaiyat in 2013 and with Pink Parfait this past spring, both red fleshed apples.

Cherry Cox crossed with Rubaiyat in 2013 and with Pink Parfait this past spring, both red fleshed apples.

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.

Cherry Cox trees are listed for sale at Raintree Nursery and Maple Valley lists scions and benchgrafts.


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.

Old Sam Young

Old Sam Young

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
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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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Official BITE ME! Apple Release, and Two Week Hiatus

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.

BITE ME! revisited, Checking in With My First Seedling Apple and a Few Others

I only had a few specimens of my seedling apple this year.  The first couple were unripe, but the last one seemed better than any I had last year.  That is not surprising since fruits either grafted or from seed can take a few years to start bearing exemplary fruit.  BITE ME! is from an open pollinated Wickson seed, which means that I don't know whos spread powdery pollen was spread over Wickson's sticky stigma.  This year BITE ME! seems to have more of the Wickson flavor that motivated me to use wickson as a parent in breeding.  That flavor and the high sugar content (up to 25%) have encouraged me to make a lot of intentional Wickson crosses with other apples.  It's encouraging that the flavor came through in the this case, although the sugar content of BITE ME! seems average.  I will definitely be sending out scions of bite me to whomever wants to try it.  It has potential and I'd like to see what others think of it in the long run and how it does in other regions.  I will probably start selling scions in the webstore here about FEB 1st.  That is the plan at this point.

Also in this video we taste a few other apples, one that is probably Northern Spy, Zabergau Reinette, Vanilla Pippin and Suntan.

15 Super Late Winter Apples, Still Hanging on at Winter Solstice

Here are a couple of videos about very late hanging apples, which I'm always excited about.  I broke it into two parts, because, in spite of heavy editing, it's still pretty long.  More below.

I'm not good at a lot of things, like remembering people, where I met them, their names, their faces, why I should care who they are and what they think, book keeping...  But, one thing I am good at is spotting potential.  Years ago when I found out that some apples can hang and ripen late into the winter, I was intrigued.  This was potential.  The potential to have fresh fruit in perfect condition off the tree at a time when most people in temperate climates are eating fruit out of storage and often already of marginal quality.  Imagine a tree that is grafted to many different late varieties ripening through December and January and maybe beyond?  That is an awesome idea- which is why I'm doing it!  I have a new frankentree started just for very late ripening apples.  But, I only know some of what I'll be grafting onto it, and a lot of work has gone into getting this far.

First I started collecting as many very late ripening, late hanging apples as I could find.  I spent hours upon hours researching apples to find more of them.  Some have fruited and some haven't yet.  Now, years later, all that labor is starting to pay off, and not just for me, for you too and anyone else that will listen to me.  Here are about 15 different apples that are still hanging on the tree just around the Winter Solstice/Christmas.  Some would have been better for sure in early Dec. or even back in late Nov., but some are excellent and a couple are not ripe yet.  There is something of a gap between the very latest, Lady Williams, and the ones at their best now, but I'm sure that gap can be filled with apples that are in existence somewhere now, let alone with what could still be bred in the future using the late apple genes that are out there.

Speaking of which, after making this video, I'm even more fired up about breeding for this type of apple.  I would guess that the season can be extended even further past Lady Williams coming in at about Feb 1st.  I have seen wildling apples here hang until March and still be in good condition, but there was not much else to recommend them unfortunately.  I hope to start getting some fruit this year from late variety crosses I made four years ago, like Grenadine x Lady Williams and Grenadine x Gold Rush.

Let me tell you, as soon as I finish this post, I'm going to mosey on out to Frankentree and bite into one of those amazing, crisp, perfect apples that yesterday was covered in snow and last night kissed by a 25 degree freeze, and I'm going to be stoked.  I'm sure you'll hear more from me on this topic in the future, but for now, this is a pretty good start.

I'd like to continue work along these lines, collecting, breeding and sharing information. You can easily support me in this and the other development and educational work at no cost to you simply by using my amazon links. If you bookmark this link and use it every time you shop at amazon and I'll make a small commission for sending you there.  Thanks for your support.  I'm not sure what else to do with myself!  I'm already planning more late apple variety breeding crosses to make this spring... 

Grape Tasting Notes 2015, and a sneak peek at my New Apple!

Grapes are a miracle.  They often produce enormous quantities of fruit packed with precious sugar and flavor with very little input.  I recently attended a grape tasting at local fruit enthusiast Richard Jeske’s house.  He and his wife host this tasting almost every year, where he collects other peoples opinions on his collection of grape varieties.  I can relate.  I’m always curious about what people think of the apples I grow.  I hold impromptu tastings and hand them out when I go places.  Richard has other fruit trees, vines and bushes, but his main interest and efforts have been among grapes.  He generously prints up a list with descriptions and brings cuttings to the Boonville scion exchange each winter to give away.  He is the reason I have any good grapes here.  He's been doing with grapes for a long time, what I've been doing with apples here for a shorter time.  He also sells rooted vines.

There were 30 grape varieties on the main tables.  I went through systematically and wrote down my favorites.  I plan to put in more grapes here, and have been meaning to go back to this tasting and then get cuttings for everything I like so I can further test them.  I have 4 varieties here now all of which are pretty good to excellent. and two of which I’ve already reviewed in youtube videos, linked below.  Here are my favorites from this tasting.

 

Blue/Purple Grapes

 

Enormous fantasy grape and raisin.  This guy had a big hand!

Fantasy:  This grape is huge and seedless.  It has a crunchy texture, which I like.  The flavors are mild, but very pleasant.  It makes gigantic grapes, which is cool, but they take a long time to dry.

Saturn:  This is similar to Fantasy right down to the shape, except that it is smaller.  It probably had just a little bit more flavor.  I will probably grow both of them.

Mars:  This is a big, seeded grape.  It is flavorful, but I’m not sure I can describe it. There were other similar large round blue grapes, but this was just the one I liked the best, though not by a large margin.  I think the juice would be excellent.

New York Muscat:  A very flavorful muscat cross.  It has good muscat flavor, but without the harsh dusty flavored, or coarse unrefined animal like musk that some of them have.  One of them, St. Vallier, tasted like laundry soap, but the woman next to me though that was the best grape ever.  Different strokes.  I’m not a huge muscat fan and most of them didn’t appeal to me.  I’m sure this one would make amazing juice.

Summer Royal:  Large round and crunchy.  I don’t remember much else, just that I liked it.  Like many of the large crunchy seedless grapes, it's not overflowing with sensational flavor.

Glenora:  This is a small crunchy blueberry shaped grape.  I really enjoy it, though it is finicky to eat because many of the fruits are very small.  It also tends to fall off with the stem attached, which makes it harder to process.  I will keep a vine though for sure.  I wouldn’t plant more than one though.  Video review here.

 

Green Grapes

 

Interlaken:  I already have this one.  It is similar to Himrod, which I also have, but I like the Interlaken better.  It is a soft textured seedless green grape.  My friend, local fruit expert and keeper of Feijoas Mark Albert also grows this in the hotter valley and swears it is the best thing going for reliability but also being of high quality.  It is a very good grape.  It’s not exciting, but my vine is also vigorous and productive and good eating.

Golden Muscat:  This is another muscat on the mild side.  Extremely sweet, soft, seeded.  Again, no doubt would make an amazing juice.  This is a crowd favorite.

Delight:  Delightful crunchy seedless grape.  Richard says it makes a small compact vine.

 

Red Grapes

 

Reliance:  This is my favorite of the four grapes that I already grow here, and Richard says it is very popular at tastings.  So, I’m already a big fan and did a video review last year.  It has some muscat flavor, but uniquely so.  I highly recommend it.

Beautiful, delicious Reliance

Swenson Red:  This one was stashed away in the limited quantity stash for fruit geeks like me to taste.  It may have been my favorite in the whole tasting. I’m definitely picking that one up if I can get a cutting or plant this winter.  It is had a sweet candy like flavor.  I think it was seedless, but don’t remember for sure.  The grapes are small.


I regret not spending more time picking Richard’s brain about the growth habits, disease resistance and any other relevant bits of info on all of these selections.  He did say that he has almost no problem with anything except the pure European vines.  He seemed to be saying that the hybrids and muscats are basically disease free.

The blurry woman in the blue shirt is my mother.

I hope to do some sizeable grape plantings here in the future, but I haven’t yet located where I want them in relation to other infrastructure and plantings.  I also have vague plans for a self supporting grape arbor, but again, haven’t settled on a location.  In the mean time.  I’d really like to get cuttings for all of these and plant them somewhere for further observation over the coming years.  It is one thing to taste a grape a couple times and decide it is probably worth growing, and another to live with it a few years and see how it fares.  How productive is it?  How vigorous?  What color and shape are the leaves (some go bright red in the fall)?  And will the fruit grow on me or become boring?  And then there is raisin making, grape syrup making and juice.  I think I’ll forgo wine making for the most part.

With the quantities of sugars and juice I currently consume, growing a ton of grapes sounds like a good idea.  I’ve done my own hot packed grape juice in the past and it is truly amazing.  The grapes have to compete with kiwi vines for arbor space, but I’ll find someplace to put them.  I’ve got some cool ideas for soil modification etc..

yum, fresh grape juice!

I also took a bunch of apples and put them out for people to taste.  They didn’t get a ton of play competing with all those grapes, but some of the results were interesting.  Wickson as always was a winner.  Not surprisingly King David too.  Margil was also popular.  Most gratifying though was that my first seedling apple was well received.  Yes, five years into my apple breeding efforts, I have a fruit.  It is actually an open pollinated seedling though, not one that I crossed intentionally..  More on that soon.  I’m going to have so much fun making that video!  For now, lets just say it has had a lot of fans and not much in the way of detractors.

My new apple!  In at least the top 25% of the 150 or so apples that have fruited here so far, as pleasant eating as any apple in season here right now, and not too bad lookin'!  Stay tuned for a full report and what may very well be a snarky, gloating video :D


Seven Summer Apples, Head to Head Taste Test

Beautiful and Tasty Chestnut Crab

Beautiful and Tasty Chestnut Crab

Untold hours of research into apple geekery has resulted, among other things, in a fair collection of early apples of high reputation. Although many have not lived up their reputations, at least not in my climate, my last taste test of two early crab apples, TRAILMAN and CENTENNIAL was very encouraging  This week I got to taste 7 early apples that are in eating around early to mid August.  The results didn't surprise me. I've tasted most of these apples before. Still, it was very revealing to taste all of them at the same time and compare directly.  What did surprise me was significant red staining in the flesh of William's pride, making it a good candidate for my red fleshed apple breeding efforts, along with it's other merits. 

For anyone searching for good early apples,the winners in this tasting are good at any season and very exceptional for early apples. There are other apples which I grow that ripen in the same season, but for various reasons, like birds, Drought, and alternate bearing, I didn't have any specimens to add. So, they will have to wait for another year.  Most promising among those so far are probably St. Edmunds russet, Irish peach and golden nugget.  I also just today discovered an entire cordon Mother apples (Mother is the variety name) that I hadn't noticed. I've had them before, but I just ate one that was by far the best I've ever had, and it may have been a contender up against the winners of this taste test.  Extremely sweet with lots of rich flavor.  This one may have been an early drop.  It takes a while to learn when to pick and eat each variety.

An old early apple variety known as Mother

An old early apple variety known as Mother

I now have a dedicated Frankentree in one of the orchards for only the very best early apples, which I will graft on over the years as I suss them out.