A grower's experience of red-fleshed apples

These notes are an update by C.P. and refer to a site in Lancaster, PA, USA. This is about the same latitude as Spain, roughly level with New York ... so hotter summers than England, colder winters, fewer hours of daylight in summer; less darkness in winter. Many thanks, CP...

I thought I'd bring you up to date on redflesh apple culture here:

I have removed the Pink Pearmain, Scarlet Surprise, Niedtzwekiana, and Almata. I will be removing Webster Pinkmeat and Burford's Redflesh this winter.

Pink Pearmain never produced good apples here; I think it was too hot in the summer. Apples were always very light weight, flesh never dense, did not last long on tree when ripe, became mealy very quickly, and usually began to rot before they ripened despite a regular spray schedule. On M26 rootstock the tree was vigorous but susceptible to fireblight. Just a case of an apple not fit for this climate.

Scarlet Surprise ripened in early to mid August while we are in the midst of peach season. They are a small to medium apple, very tart-much too tart to eat. Tree very vigorous. Apples generally good in appearance. I guess they would be good for apple sauce but you would need to add a lot of sugar. They did not store too well unrefrigerated. Because of limited use I removed the tree.

Almata is about the same story as Scarlet Surprise. The apples ripened in early August and did not have any real useful quality other than apple sauce, if that. Tree was vigorous and apples were good in appearance. Even though it was on M26 it never had a fireblight issue.

Webster Pinkmeat is another bust in this climate. Results similar to Pink Pearmain. The qualities of Webster Pinkmeat are very close to Pink Pearmain. I suspect they are closely related.

Niedtzwekiana was a medium sized apple despite its description as a crab apple. It ripened in early to mid August, and qualities were similar to Almata and Scarlet Surprise. You can see the lineage in those apples. Tree on Mark rootstock (which has fallen into disfavor because of susceptibility to fireblight and other problems) was not vigorous. Interestingly, squirrels loved the apples and would strip most of them from the tree before the apples were ripe. They left Almata and other red flesh apples alone.

Burford's Redflesh produced lots of small to meduim sized apple which ripened in the latter part of September to early October. Fruit was very tart, deep red flesh. Not for eating. Tree on M9 is vigorous. Perhaps it is useful for apple sauce with a lot of sugar. No other uses that I know of.

Pink Pearl is doing nicely here. The original Pink Pearl tree I got from Greenmantle did very poorly and produce terrible fruit. I purchased a replacement tree from another nursery and it is doing very well on M7. Fruit is very good although it is a scab magnet and must be picked just when ripe.

My replacement Mott's Pink is about ready to produce fruit. It gets some afternoon shade so I am hoping that will help the fruit withstand the heat. It is grafted on a Geneva 11 fireblight resistant rootstock and is fairly vigorous. This variety is susceptible to fireblight but I now spray a bordeaux mix and streptomycin so I'm hoping fireblight does not get to this tree.

My Hidden Rose trees are doing well-it is the best pink fleshed apple in the orchard at the moment. Interestingly the apples on the M7 tree seem to be a little larger then those on the tree with Bud9 rootstock. The trees are somewhat biannual bearers; but fortunately my two trees alternate years so I always get a crop. It ripens in mid to late September. It has a sprightly, sweet taste, but not nearly as complex as some other apples. It is fine for eating and I toss it in with other apples for cider.

Thornberry tree continues to produce small numbers of small pink fleshed apples. They taste OK but there are never enough to justify the effort to grow them. The tree is one of the only survivors from those I bought from Greenmantle Nursery years ago. The tree is on Mark rootstock which is the major cause of its problems, I am almost hoping that fireblight or some other disease kills it. I've grafted two replacements on Bud9. They are in pots and appear to be quite vigorous. I will probably graft one more onto Geneva rootstock next spring.

I have a potted Pink Princess that I grafted with scion wood that I received from another orchardist who had access to the original trees. It's ready to go into the orchard this year.

I am waiting for George's Red and Red Devil to produce a decent number of apples this year. For the last two years there have been a couple apples here or there, but I think the trees are old enough to get on with making fruit. I'll let you know how things turn out.

C.P.,Lancaster, PA. Nov 24, 2012.

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