We are heading into the third year with our home orchard here, and I am hoping that you all can help me out with some advice for selecting apples and pears to graft this spring.
Our selection criteria (not necessarily in this order):
- Old/unusual/local to New England. My wife has said that she’s not really interested in growing anything that we can get at the grocery store.
- Season of harvest. We are currently pretty heavy on winter apples, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I am looking for a couple of earlier varieties. (Although I’m thinking that our “early apples” are mostly going to be pears.)
- Suitable for espalier, i.e. not primarily tip-bearing. Partly due to space/sun constraints, we are growing most of our trees in an espalier/Belgian fence, and while we might be able to include a couple of free-standing trees, they would have to be real stand-outs. (I am already planning to make an exception for Bramley, because my wife specifically requested it.)
- Ornamental (attractive tree/fruit/blossoms). Especially ones with pink flowers, because that would make our daughter happy. (On that note, @NuttingBumpus, am I right in recalling that Hunt Russet has had notably pinker blossoms for you?)
Note: I know that Goldrush is a forum favorite, but conversations with people at several local orchards suggest that it does not ripen reliably here in Western MA, and that combined with the CAR susceptibility are counting against it for me at this point.
What we currently have:
Apples (with what I’ve been able to find about season of harvest/use and a couple of notes):
Adams Pearmain (Late, early-mid winter)
American Beauty (Mid fall? - an old MA apple, don’t know much about this one, frankly, but felt like taking a flyer on it)
Ashmead’s Kernel (Late, early winter)
Black Oxford x2 (Late, early-mid winter)
Blue Pearmain (Late, early winter)
Cornish Aromatic (Late, early winter - I have heard up and down things about this one, but felt like giving it a go)
Fall Russet (Early-mid fall)
Gray Pearmain (Late, early winter)
Hoople’s Antique Gold (Mid-fall)
Hunt Russet (Late, mid winter)
Kidd’s Orange Red x2 (Mid-fall)
Mother (Early-mid fall - I’ve heard that this one can be really up and down, exceptionally good when it’s good, but very blah when it’s not, but figured it was worth a try)
Orleans Reinette (Late, late fall-early winter)
Pitmaston Pineapple (Early-mid fall)
Pumpkin Russet (Mid-fall, primarily baking - another one that I don’t know that much about, but felt like taking a flyer on)
Reine des Reinettes (Late fall)
Roxbury Russet x2 (Late, early-mid winter)
Westfield Seek No Further x2 (Mid fall)
Wheeler’s Golden Russet (Late, early-mid winter. As if the general confusion surrounding “Golden Russets” weren’t enough, I should note that this is not the Wheeler’s Russet from the UK - which sounds pretty appealing, actually - but the Wheeler’s Golden Russet from Western Massachusetts, described by Tom Burford.)
(I made some rookie mistakes with the pears, and Tyson was the lone survivor…)
Some of the things that I am thinking about adding:
Belle de Boskoop
St. Edmund’s Pippin
Madness and/or Warren?
Seckel and/or Dana’s Hovey and/or Honeysweet?
Korean Giant (can this be pollinated by European pears?)
Thanks for your help!