As a general rule good cider apples are late apples. The problem here in Alaska is that anything later than mid September stand close to no chance to ripen. Late apples are not viable regardless of how hardy the tree may be.
With that in mind I had high hopes on the Franklin apple, a very recent variety that is hardy, produces good cider apples, and it is supposed to ripen fruit early September. Except that for the second year in a row it doesn’t seem to be too concerned with fattening fruit until much later in the season. It looks like the late start in the spring is pushing the tree to try to ripen into early October…
Is there a chance that the tree would acclimate itself better or is that just wishful thinking on my part?
I guess you cannot find a microclimate to (trans)plant it in? South facing, close to a wall / courtyard with full sun? That might work for your situation? It’s how I get most of my figs to ripen here in the PNW. (I know its not the same situation, but similar principle).
To be specific I’m talking about hard cider, and there are indeed better apples to that end. Petty similar to grapes; what makes for agreat table grape can lead to an unbalance fermented mess on its way to become vinegar.
Because there is no such thing as bad cider, you either get great cider or great vinegar
I have no real experience here but, peeking about the cummins website, they list Franklin as ripening ~ 13 Oct in upstate New York. That does not seem inconsistent with your experience. Just going by what they post there are a number of cider apples that could ripen mid-sept or earlier and are claimed to be hardy to zone 4. Many are European, perhaps you have some experience how they might fair where you are, but some are North American. Jolicouer in his New Cider Makers Handbook speaks of early season cider apples that he grows in Quebec (zone 4): Bilodeau, Bulmers Norman, Lobo and Douce de Charlevoix
When I first bought it two years ago I got word of mid September
I’ll let it be for now, but eventually I may end up choping it down so I can graft something else into it; no point wasting the root system. Right now it is a perfect example on how a tree can downright thrive and still be pointless if it can never ripen fruit.
I think @Richard had the best thoughtful suggestion. Several years ago I performed a test on a muscadine arbor that was old enough to begin blooming, yet, year after year there were no blooms. So being one to not usually throw in the towel, I constructed a canopy over my arbor and measured the daily temps inside just above the vines under my canopy and outdoor ambient. As mid summer highs approached I found routinely that the difference in temperatures under the canopy was often up to 14degrees thus extending my growing season considerably. It didn’t matter, only showed that my region is not very good for raising Muscadines, yet it illustrated to me the value of creating a micro climate. I suggest you take some daily measurements under your grape canopy to determine how many degree days you gain. That May then stimulate some new thought about maybe a lower growing semi dwarf apple rootstock to grow the variety you really desire. A canopy should be worth considering!