Chikn"s 2018 fruit and garden year


Nov '18 - Greetings to all who care to read this. 2018 was a difficult year for me and others in central Iowa.
May started wet and HOT! The middle 2 weeks of May and much of June were extremely hot. Had a period of dry weather in late May when we tried to transplant peppers and tomatoes. The peppers dropped all their leaves and the tomatoes refused to live. To cap it off, we had a 20 min hail storm to break the heat which topped all the tomatoes, took all the remaining leaves off the peppers and destroyed much of my fruit crop for the 2nd year running.
My long time helper also decided he needed to have a 60 hr. a week job and went back to drywalling. My full time job also picked up and was 60 hrs. a week also. What had to give was my time on Growing Fruit, but I’m back…I know. “Dammit, that A-hole is back!”
Start on tomatoes: Everything that touched the ground rotted. My last year for a commercial sized plot!
Bell peppers: Didn’t set 1/2 dozen fruit till mid August. 1000 plants and we harvested 40 bushels total.
Jalapenos: Very good year. Emerald Fire, a new jalapeno, was a super star for me. The old standby Telica, also did well but turned red and soft too early.
Zukes: Excellent year, no vine borers, no squash bugs.
Cukes: Also excellent.
Snap peas: Fair, suffered from early heat.
Green beans: Jade II is a fantastic bean. If you don’t grow this one try it!
We grew a few other things but nothing was more than adequate or less than fair.

Let’s talk about apples!
Grafting first, I did not become a better grafter this year but everything, 100% took. They just all grew this year. Amazing.
Good apples:
Zestar: Tasty early apple. good enough to graft. !st fruit.
Winecrisp: Also a surprise. 1st fruit.
Macoun: Better the second year. Dropped bad and was started to get meally. Still had that good Macoun taste.
Spigold: Early, small, bright red apples, spicy/sweet flavor. Very upright vigorous tree. 3rd year fruiting.
Razor russet: Last year, the fruit was small and bitter. Tree was on a 1 yr. reprise then regraft if it didn’t improve. It had a nice recovery! Apples were 2.5-3", a bright gold color, and fully russeted. Tasted like GD(RR is a GD sport) and was absolutely stunning on the tree. 2nd fruit.
Royal Empire: Suffered badly from hail damage and rot. Good apples have a robust, rich, sub acid sweet flavor. They cook well for crisps. Kid favorite.
Golden Russet: Very reliable apple for me. Bad hail damage. Better into its 4th fruit.
Muscat de Venus: A good apple, late but without the grape flavor this year. Last year it was very strong.
Baldwin: A lighter year than last . A big and vigorous tree. Great baker.
Karmijn de Sonneville: Loads of acid and sugar, good out of hand, amazing off the dryer. 1st fruit
Jonathan: Reliable as usual, had fireblight strikes in weird places, hail damaged spots?
Kidds OR: The only apples I didn’t get to taste, deer. Not real attractive. 1st fruit
Westfield Seek No Further. Only had 1, wish I had a bushel. Very tasty, descent texture and mouth feel. Mr. Westfield was on to something. 1st fruit.
Chieftain: The best for last, superb rich flavor, sweet, crunchy, dark red, disease free, still my fave, every year a heavy crop.
Aerlie’s Redflesh: A nice light eat with a surprising pink interior.
Orleans Reinette: Rapidly becoming a fave. Superb baker, good eater. This one will be grafted to the Wickson tree.
Mediocre Apples.
Liberty: Nice color, right amount of vigor, ripens early, no disease, reliable, sour. I just don’t care for this apple that much.
Ashmead’s Kernal. 1st fruit, 6th leaf. Big vigorous tree, lots of spurs, minimal, uninspiring fruit. One more year and it’s regraft time.
Bad Apples. Regrafting started this year.
Rubiyait: A whole bunch of acid and blah. Red flesh, lumpy and bumpy, 1 is now King David and 1 is my 1920’s Iowa tree. Secor, Maude, and Sharon.
Wickson: Who needs a lopsided, 1/2", rotted, crabapple. Not me. regrafted to Baldwin.
Gala: Bad fireblight. too close to the chicken coop. 1" hair cut this fall and a date with the smoker!
An unknown RdR cross from USDA. One apple, 2nd fruit, budded to Liberty. Light yellow, ugly is kind, very faint pink interior color, and an overwhelming grapefruit flavor. Yup, grapefruit!
WSNF: That it tasted sooo good.
Wet fall and hot summer had all the apples 3-4 weeks early with a sweet but bland flavor. Everything had sooty blotch. Hail hurt, a lot of rot.
One question, On the rotten royal Empires, at every rot spot, there was a little, brown, Mayfly type insect, is this a problem?


I am not sure why the Macoun gets mealy like that. I had one tree a some years ago and I could never time them correctly. They always were so-so for me.
I hope the Ashmead’s Kernel gets better for you. So many people rave about it. I planted one this last spring and I was hoping for a great apple. If not , time to graft it to something else. I am not having an apple that just is not a very good tasting or producing apple in my orchard.
Thanks for the great apple review.


I’ve read Ashmead’s is a shy producer, but this borders on silly. This year was quite warm so it gets another year but like you I have no space or time for an apple that doesn’t produce and doesn’t taste good.


For some reason Ashmead’s Kernel became the poster boy of heirloom apples. Maybe because its a very old variety, ugly, but with good flavor. My tree eventually has started to produce well, its much older than 6th leaf but the deer munched it heavily for many years. Maybe your tree will eventually get going.

:laughing: Thats how it comes out for me as well.

I have decided to re-add Orleans Reinette this coming year, I had it before but it blighted badly due to some late blooms on it. But now my FB problems are minimal so I want to try again.


Oh this is exciting. Could you describe the Winecrisp? I haven’t been able to find many descriptors for it besides that it is a good keeper and very hard. I have one on order for the Spring from Wallace Woodstock but it’s hard to wait to find out for myself. :slight_smile:


Katie, I’m sorry, I don’t remember that apple other than it wasn’t a spitter. It didn’t make the bad or mediocre list. Mine ripened in the Zestar time period, maybe a week later. I am thinking it had some acid, dark red color.


That’s more than I’ve been able to find elsewhere, so I’ll gladly take it :grin:


Thanks for the detailed report. Glad to hear Zestar! is nice. Mine will need a couple more years to fruit. Also glad to hear about Orleans as I added it to a multi grafted tree. Karmijn also does well in a pie. I regrafted my 2nd Ashmeads. In addition to poor production, it cracked like mad this year. I will try to get out a report for this year too. Graft on.


I agree with you 100%. An apple tree that does not produce or does not taste good is a tree that is replaced.


Its too prone to rot for me so I am probably going to remove it. Other than that its one awesome apple, it is candy-aromatic fruity and crunchy. The perfect kids apple!


Orleans, for me, has been a much tastier and prolific apple. Looks better too!
One surprise this year was the preference that people have displayed for Baldwin. This year’s flavor balance was very appealing and they still are phenomenal cookers.


How many years has this been producing for you?


Just noticed this thread Chikn. Glad to hear your peppers finally started producing. Sounds like you had something to sell from them.

Interesting to hear about the apples. Zestar and Liberty on the only ones on your list I’ve tried. And mine matched your description exactly. I ended up pulling Liberty, but Zestar is a pretty decent apple.

It sounds like your year has been very busy, but everything considered very profitable. :+1: Glad to hear that.


Two years now, it’s on g16, only 15-20 apples, so I grafted it to G969, G210, and G222. We’ll see how they do.


If I didn’t have so many things grafted to Liberty, it would also see the business end of the smoker too.
Hope your year turned better too!


Did you guys spray your Wickson at all? I sprayed with Pristine three times in the spring around bloom, and then no spray whatsoever after that. All of my apples, including the Wickson, were practically flawless.


You are in a much cooler area. Also it takes years for rot diseases to build up. I sprayed a lot more than you did, I expect with more powerful chemicals. Wickson will probably be much better for you. I think cracking still is a problem with Wickson anywhere in the east though.


Is there any way to prevent that rot from building up? I can feel heartbreak already lol


My expectation is people doing biweekly summer cover sprays from the beginning will avoid rot better – basically act like its there to begin with. I don’t know how bad rot is in your climate, you might not need to worry much at all even without any summer cover sprays. My combination of heat, humidity, south hill location, and less than optimal sun makes things super bad for rots in my orchard.


If Wickson doesn’t do well for you, use the rootstock for another graft(s). Enjoy your trees and the experience they give you! Life is too short for regrets or heartbreak from something you can fix so easily.
My Wickson will give me numerous places to graft old to me varieties that I know do well or new to me varieties that I will get the joy of trying in 2-3 yrs,