I am making plans for a small home orchard in Western Massachusetts (5b) and would appreciate your help with selecting apple varieties. As the thread title suggests, I’m particularly interested in finding varieties that are some mix of (a) really good in terms of flavor and growability, (b) old, and © have roots in New England (so to speak). Not every variety has to hit every category, but high marks in more than one are a plus.
To be a little more specific in terms of growability, I’m looking for apples that will do reasonably well on a no-to-very-low-spray regimen. As a novice, I’ve been reading the “apples without pesticides” thread, and it’s given me a lot to think about. Here’s my thinking at this point, just so you know where I’m coming from in terms of my own particular situation. (1) My family loves apples. (2) I would like to try growing apples. (3) For a number of reasons involving our site and family situation, spraying anything that’s more than minimally toxic is pretty much a deal-breaker. (4) Before sprays were invented, people did commonly grow apples in our area. (5) However, growing very-low-to-no-spray apples will probably involve doing more work and/or accepting a higher proportion of less-than-perfect fruit. (6) I think I’m ok with that.
So, I’m looking for varieties that have a good degree of resistance, have a track record of success from the days before spray, and are well-adapted to our region. (Hence the “old” and “New England”, though I admit that irrational sentimentality is a factor here, too.) I’ve read through the forum and consulted a bunch of other sources, and I’ve put together a short list that I wanted to run by you all.
At this point, I’m planning to order scionwood and rootstock for maybe a half dozen trees and give grafting a go this spring. (I recently found out that my dad learned how to graft apple trees from his dad when he was a kid growing up in rural Michigan, so hopefully we’ll be able to revive that family tradition.) I’m planning to plant the trees in a more sheltered area this year and then transplant whatever makes it next spring. In order to make the most of our space and sun, I’m planning to grow most of the trees in a Belgian fence, but I do have room for a few small freestanding trees, too, if there are particularly desirable varieties that are better suited for that approach.
OK, on to the short list of varieties I’ve been looking at. At this point, I’m probably looking at picking a couple of candidates from each category, though I would be hoping to add more (and expand the list) down the line.
Kidd’s Orange Red
Reine des Reinettes
Westfield Seek No Further
Hoople’s Antique Gold
Late fall/Winter keepers
Any suggestions for things that you think should move up, down, onto, or off the list? I look forward to hearing what people think.