Best tasting apples


Yeah, when was the last time we had a whole week without at least an inch? I think we did have a 2 or 3 week drought the summer before last. Been a great couple years for growing wood- fruit, not so much.


Yes, I remember a drought we had 2-3 summers ago. Best fruit but crispy, dry lawn.

Last year, green lawn till fall. Fruit tasted so bland I threw away some peaches and apples.



Thank you for your reply. I’d think that thinning is the biggest determinate of apple fruit size. I know there is information out there on all of this. WSU has conducted deficit irrigation tests in Eastern WA orchards because they are subject to dry winters that deplete water storage. That info has appeared in Good Fruit Grower many yrs ago. A deficit of water as I recall did increase brix but not to the upper 20s. Of course that area is all about size and yield. They don’t withhold water on purpose to improve quality.

My thinking is that relative to stonefruit, apples are better adapted to humid climates. And brix may be less affected by excess water than is that of stone fruit.


Hey that sounds a lot like my orchard :grin: I think I just got over my latest hump, deer, but I had to remove about half the fruiting wood on my apples this last winter to get it out of their reach. Yet another delay for me in getting good production.


“7.5” annually!!! Sometimes, we get that much here in 3 days.”

The Sierra casts a mighty rain shadow. Truckee, CA, 24 miles southwest of Reno as the crow flies, 5800’ in elevation and a few miles east of the Sierra crest gets almost 31” of precipitation annually and averages more than 200” of snow. Drive further west over the Sierra crest 9 miles to tiny Norden, CA at a little more than 6900’ in elevation and you’re treated to an average of 62” of precipitation annually and more than twice the amount snow that Truckee gets.

Fortunately, Reno and environs receives a nice share of all the precip falling in the Sierra in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the Truckee watershed or rather than half a million people living in metro Reno, we’d have about 720.


I have to call you there, Truckee is very much east of the Sierra crest, the Truckee River literally flows through Reno. If you think Truckee gets a lot of precipitation, the other side up above Emigrant Gap gets crazy snow. I don’t go often, but I’ve still been caught in significant snowstorms there in June and July!


From observation, whatever differences there are, most fruit species suffer from excessive water and/or the grey skies that come with precip in the 60 days or so leading to ripeness.

Last years endless monsoon (I type as it rains) seemed to actually improve the quality of my Elephant Heart plums and other J. plums were fine. The quality of peaches and nectarines fluctuated, depending on how much rain in the couple weeks preceding ripening, but couldn’t obtain really high brix readings, even by my standards- which is anything over 16 for nects and 14 for peaches. .

During the harvest season I ate quite a few good apples, but somehow, my good keeping apples were pretty worthless, eating them just wasn’t pleasurable. My late Euro plums were inconsistent, some had decent sugar and some were bland.

Pears weren’t worth the effort of harvesting- in the northeast, it’s always about getting high enough brix for pears.

I’m still eating frozen blueberries every morning- they are in a bowl of steel cut oats to my left right now. They seem to have normal brix, although I never measure them.


My deer are considerably more helpful than yours, they remove that wood themselves and prune my trees above the browse line. They are more a problem with buck rubs and foliage browsing than taking fruit.

However, I’ve been training trees to grow above the browse line for decades. In orchards I install I used to plant small trees circled with individual rings of 5’ tall fencing and deer would eat anything that poked through the fence.

Now I grow trees too close together in my nursery, which forces them to grow high, so I just remove lower branches before I sell the trees. They tend to be over 12’ tall when I sell them. At most sites, they don’t go up that high to take fruit, but there is an amazing amount of variation on that.

High and dry makes me grateful we only rarely have bear issues and the moose stay much further north.


Last year in my region of the mid-Atlantic, which suffered from overcast/rainy weather similar to yours, my experience with nectarines/peaches was similar to yours, Euro pears were excellent, Asian pears were awfully watery and apples were mediocre (except Fuji)…


I’m not sure what you’re calling anyone out about. Truckee is maybe 5-8 miles east of the crest of the Sierra Nevadas. The Truckee river is an outlet for Lake Tahoe that goes north toward Truckee then heads east toward Reno.


Hmm… I think I was tired, because I read that very wrong!


7.5 inches! Good gravy; makes Spokane even more appealing to me. Here the average is 17 inches of precipitation, half of which arrives in winter. We’ve had a solid downpour once a week the past three weeks, so things are green in the first week of June.

I’m trying not to obsess over an Orleans Reinette graft that looks tentative. Oh how I want some of these grafts to take! Since reading the praises for OR by Edward Bunyard “best apple in all Europe” or something to that affect, and your enthusing, I gave it a try.
I put a wire cage around it to keep birds from standing on the graft and knocking it loose. Its tight, just barely showing life. Sigh.

Only graft to be solidly taking so far is Maiden Blush, which is a comfort since I’m looking to replace Rambour Franc/Summer Rambo. RF dropped nearly all fruit in '17. I had thinned it from well over 300 fruits set, to 85. Then it did not bloom at all last year. The taste was “discreet” in my notes - nice enough, but hardly persuasive when it dropped 95% of its fruit & was so easily & totally biennial.

I hope, from reading, that Maiden Blush will perform better. It may have much more flavor out this way, too.
The tiny Claygate offered a single small apple last year that I’ve written about elsewhere on this forum. I stripped it last month to let the maiden become a tree. Like Hunt Russet, I’ll never have too many of those in future!
I admit to leaving 2 apples on Hunt this year, so a couple people can taste it, and confirm its huge impression from the first two apples it offered in '17.
I thought 18 & 19 Brix on Hunt was impressive, Neil. Your Brix numbers seem hardly credible, but easy to swallow!


Nutting: I don’t know if this is typical, but Orleans Reinette has been one of our slowest apples to wake up in the spring for the three years that we’ve had it (and tends to stay awake late on the other end, too - kind of like our daughter, funny enough). Just to say that I wouldn’t count it out yet.

On the other hand, our graft of Claygate Pearmain has been very slow to show signs of life this spring (and that variety was one of the ones that failed to take in our first round of grafting two years ago…). Hopefully it will hang in there, but if it doesn’t make it, I guess there’s always next year!


Orlean’s Reinette is one of my later bloomers and one of the latest to leaf out here too. Only Suntan and Court Pendu Plat bloomed and leafed out later this spring.


I agree that my Brix readings are off the charts compared to others reported here. I’m very fortunate that way, although there are plenty of other challenges between planting these trees, keeping them happy and eventually harvesting fruit.

The 50-60 Suntan and Melrose apples I appear destined to harvest this fall from my gangly, youngish trees will make all of the struggles worth it. Orlean’s Reinette is taking the year off. I have eight fruits on a small tree that produced 80-100 last year.


I pulled my Orleans Reinette around five years ago since all the late blooms were causing it to be a fireblight magnet. I am growing it again now since my FB levels are much lower with all my super-late Euro cider apples gone. You really have to be careful with late bloomers in fireblight-prone areas.


Good to know about Orleans Reinette. I’ll keep hoping through this season.

A couple years back I grafted a thread of a twig of Winekist to EMLA 26 and it took most of the summer to show life - then did amazingly the rest of the season. Patience was virtue.

Maybe the same season I grafted Lamb Abbey Pearmain, which did everything slowly. It is tied for last each spring with Edelborsdorfer to open buds. They may make a strong parallel to Orleans Reinette in that respect.
As for Claygate, that is the least vigorous tree I’ve seen - precocious, but slow growing - I’ve had to strip it of fruitlets since its second leaf. Last year the one sample was worth trying, but I will wait at least through this year before allowing it to bear again. It stands on Budagovsky 118, nearly standard, so that isn’t holding it back. BTW, LAP stands on Bud 118 also.


That’s interesting. Here (Northern California), LAP is vigorous, blooms in mid-April and is ready by mid-September. It’s been a reliable heavy bearer. Mine’s grafted onto a mature unidentified Frankentree. I do have Orleans Reinette grafted onto the same tree, and while the graft is a couple of years younger, it’s obviously less vigorous than LAP. I think it set just three or four fruits set this year.


From what I’ve read, Lamb Abbey Pearmain is of lower vigor. A flavor bomb with smaller fruit, ripe mid-season. (Zeke Goodband’s favorite, of Scott Farm, Vermont, & mentioned in such books as “Apples of Uncommon Character” Rowan Jacobsen.)
Hope I’ve got the right stuff. Am trying to wait patiently for first fruits of it, maybe in 2021.

BTW, first crops each of Edelborsdorfer and Connell Red this season. Just finished covering fruits with orchard socks - Edelborsdorfer fruit of surprising size already.


Sounds right, The extra vigor here may just be due to grafting near the top of a mature tree.