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.
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.
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?