August Update – Surprise!

July came and went so fast, but in that time my yard had quite the surprise. I was out walking around the yard, and I stepped on some stiff bristles in the grass. 15 feet from the Frankencrab low and behold…


Rootsuckers from the Frankencrab, likely M7 rootstock.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve debated what to do with it. Thoughts have ranged from Cristin telling me we dont need a 5th tree to a bunch of different varieties and even another multigraft tree.

Initially I thought we’re going to have enough apples for us and some to share with the family easy with 4 half standards and a dwarf tree. So with that thought I was instantly thinking winter keeping apple, mulling Newtown Pippin. Thats one of the few apples I know of that keeps well into spring with 33 degree cold storage. I dismissed it after about a week because our growing season up here in Saratoga county is borderline at best for an apple harvest into November. Our first killing freeze averages around first week in November, and while Newtown Pippin is a great keeper, the green ones I’ve purchased from Samascott Orchards a hour south of here really werent all that good, even into winter and early spring out of cold storage.

Then I started thinking about Ashmead’s Kernel, a fantastic apple, but a shy bearer, and to make matters worse its a Triploid, meaning the pollen isnt useful for other apple varieties. So I’ve scrapped that idea. Then I thought about other russets, Golden Russet, which has bug and fireblight issues, St. Edmund’s Russet, which is early in the year and wont keep all that well, then Egremont Russet with its small fruit and bitter pit issues, Roxbury Russet, another Triploid. Im starting to get aggravated, I cant find a variety that keeps but doesnt harvest too late and has useful pollen.

Onto posting on GardenWeb and bouncing ideas back and forth with the members there. scottfsmith recommended a few including Swayzie and Pomme Gris. A few others chimed in and then I thought to myself, why not do it the analytic way with the USDA GRIN database?

I love Golden Russet, if I were to pick 1 russet to grow it would be that one, but its a tip bearer which isnt all that productive, and too vigorous for M7. Also, its really a bug magnet, and not in a good way. So I looked at Golden Russet’s soluble solids rating on the database and its a remarkable 21%. This helps the apples store well, taste great with complex sugars after the apple has matured on the tree and stored after picking.

I punched in the following, using the long form query page:

Soluble Solids greater than 20%
Harvest season at least mid october
Fruit weight greater than 100 grams
Diploid only

This is what came up:



Out of all of the apples in the GRIN database the only one that comes close to Golden Russet in measureables is Ross Nonpareil. So I did some reading about it online from here and here. Apparently it does keep well and harvests mid season. Its not a true russet though.

I went back and did some more number punching onto the GRIN Database, long form.

Fruit Russet equal to 100%
Harvest Season at least mid-October
Fruit Weight greater than 100 grams
Diploid only




apple (Pomme Grise

My blogging buddy Adam did a review on this apple here and a comparison with Ashmead’s Kernel here. It did well, even if it doesnt compare to Ashmeads in overall depth and breadth im comfortable with it if its productive and easier to grow without the thin fruit years Ashmead’s Kernel is known for. This should keep well into winter and be usable in just about anything. Plenty of soluble solids (sugar), close to Ashmead’s Kernel.

Additional references: Here and here and here and an entry in Apples of New York

So thats that, im putting my faith in the research of Cornell University to select the apple varieties for me. All I needed to do is specify exactly what im looking for and pick from the results. I’ve got 2 here and what im going to do is, graft Pomme Gris onto the rootstock first, and then graft Ross Nonpareil again on the leader after about 8-10 feet of growth,  maybe 1 season’s worth, but likely 2 for thick growth to graft to. I’ll have a permanent 2 in 1 tree that does not need additional grafting. It will be self sustaining with 2 diploids that blossom close in time and neither have big disease red flags.

Additional pictures from the yard:

Jonamac, ripening. Not happy with the shade. This tree may need to be moved.


Kidd’s Orange Red, ripening in the sun.


Orleans Reinette, I see terminal buds and fruit spurs. Fruit next year?


This Frankencrab is just a beast, more grafting of same varieties in the spring.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to August Update – Surprise!

  1. Thanks for the info on selecting apple varieties using the GRIN database, I have not seen that before. I was wondering if you have tried the ecommerce-style variety search system on our site? Maybe not quite as many varieties as GRIN, but maybe more gardener-oriented criteria to select from:

    I would be interested in your comments on how we can improve it.


    • megamav says:

      Hi Richard!
      Im humbled that you read my blog.
      There are a few things that I look for that virtually no site has.
      Your site is the only one that could do it, in my opinion.
      Thats a matrix of harvest dates based on USDA zones.
      You could tap into the vast number of user entries into the tree registry to do this.
      Whether the data is accurate is a judgement call.

      It can be difficult to judge if a variety would be OK to grow where you live. I’d rather not find out the hard way that Goldrush and Newtown Pippin wont ever ripen properly where I live because my season isnt long enough. One man’s perfectly ripe apple can be another man’s sour green. Basing harvest dates on books can be tricky.

      I gotta say, is tough to beat for good quality information. I do use it regularly for reference and investigation. I used USDA’s GRIN database this time to give me measurables. I just cant get that fine grained detail anywhere else, and to expect anyone outside of field research to provide that would be unrealistic.

      I think period of ripeness and where that falls in the local climate is important to fruit quality.
      Thanks for reading!

      Best wishes from apple country, New York.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s