Claygate Pearmain breakdown—OR—more info that you really need or want, my specialty. I’ve wanted to write at some depth about this apple for a couple of years now, but am glad I waited, because I learned even more about its quirks in my environment this year.
I live in the high desert Great Basin, where it’s hot and dry all summer but nights are cool and humidity is always low. This has been my most consistent apple since the oldest trees in my orchard began producing in 2010. It has cropped at some level all but one year since then and usually bears a (comparatively) heavy crop. I have it on a three wire espalier, with ~ 24 linear feet of limb for fruit bearing. I let it carry approx 100 apples this year, but it could have carried more.
CP is a pretty weird variety. It ripens across five or six weeks and delivers at least two vastly different apple types that I call Type 1 and Type 2. T1 is one fairly large while T2 is significantly smaller. Each generally has fairly unique qualities that seem related to their size (see photo #2 from 2016 below).
T1 usually has a slightly shiny, smooth skin with a red blush where it faces the sun, has little to no russet, is juicier, has softer, coarser flesh, is less sweet, less intensely flavored and two dimensional (sweet-tart), ripens earlier and does not keep well—five weeks at best before it’s unpleasently soft, usually sooner than that. It begins dropping large, attractive apples in late August/early September. Most of the T1 crop, which makes up approximately 30% by number but closer to 50% by weight, is finished within three weeks.
T2 usually has some level of russet (never full) and the skin that isn’t russetted is mostly dull and blushes a pretty orange where it faces the sun, is less juicy, though still pretty juicy, has much firmer, denser flesh, is intensely flavored with higher Brix and keeps up to three months when refrigerated in plastic.
There might be a Type 3, “discovered” this year, with characteristics intermediate to T1 and T2, but I’m pretty certain I’m already overthinking this apple, so why add another level of complexity to something I’ve already made numbingly complex (it’s an apple, damnit! and a good one).
Just to throw a little wrench into my observations, the first photo below is a T1 in all respects except for the time I picked it, Oct 8, and it’s complexion, definitely T2ish. I was severely disappointed when I bit into a soft, juicy, but not especially complex apple.
The final two photos are T2 apples picked this year on September 20 (on right) and October 10 (left). They are much different flavor-wise as of today, October 17. Note the much more yellow flesh of the latter specimen. That apple is also far more complexly flavored, having a much fruitier flavor to go along with similar acidity to the earlier harvested specimen. Brix on the later apple is 22 and 19 on the earlier, though it’s worth noting that I measured 24 Brix two weeks ago on a 9/20 harvested T2, so we’ll see how well the harvest dates correlate to Brix as the weeks progress. I suspect the earlier harvested T2 will keep longer and will note how that bears out in the next two to three months as I compare apples from the two harvest dates side-by-side.
I don’t know if it will perform similarly in Ohio as it does here in Western Nevada, but I highly recommend CP if you live where it is hot and dry like much of he western US. This is one of the few English russet apples I’ve cropped that is not bothered one bit by my growing conditions.
I use them in apple butter, pies and for fresh eating and suspect they would be excellent in cider production as well.