Seeking input for three new apple varieties to put on multi-graft espaliers next spring

Not really necessary to think about just yet, but I can’t help myself. I have 7 espalier apples against my back fence, which I intend to multi-graft some of the upper rungs on. Since I spend entirely too much time fiddling my grandiose plans on this subject, I have a spreadsheet with all the varieties I’d like to have represented, their various pros and cons, vigor, etc.

I find myself lacking data on some of the varieties and also would love to hear anyone’s reports on them, especially anyone growing small scale in New England.

My guidelines thus far are to favor varieties that are relatively easier to grow and relatively resistance to disease. Of course I have to break this rule on multiple counts to go after favored varieties.

Thus far my biggest problem has been cedar apple rust, but it is early days yet and anyway I’m not sure I have CAR bad enough to really damage fruit production or tree health. I want to stick to organic treatments, if any, though I realize I live in a part of the country where that may not be feasible. The only outfit I’ve heard of growing apples organically in New England is Michael Philips’ place in New Hampshire. Everyone else seems to do IPM. On the other hand you see trees in people’s yards which make plenty of slightly blemished apples without them doing anything at all to the tree.

So what is on the menu for next spring is grafting on some new varieties to the third rung of my trellis on three of the trees. Thus I need to select three varieties (I’m aiming to preserve symmetry within a tree by having the same variety on both sides of a single rung). Pretty sure I’m going to put King David on one based on good reviews here on both taste and growing convenience, which leaves two slots. If there are high vigor varieties I’m going to do, I’d rather get them in at rung 3, leaving higher rungs for less vigorous types.

What I’m looking at:

Canadian Strawberry
This variety is talked up pretty good by John Bunker in the Fedco catalog, but no one else has any information on it. Has anyone here grown it? How vigorous? Problems? Is it as tasty as the Fedco catalog says?

I like these apples a lot when I’ve had them commercially grown, and they have a local heritage. OrangePippin reports that they take greater than average growing skill and are susceptible to CAR, which gives me some reservations. Anyone have an experience to share on growability? It is reported to be high vigor so if I’m going to use it, I’d like it to be lower rather than higher.

Karmijn de Sonnaville
Sounds like a tasty cox type apple. Listed as high vigor, so I’d rather put it on this year if I’m going to use it.

Knobbed Russet
This apple looks so crazy I want to grow some. No idea how hard it is to grow or what it’s vigor is.

Calville Blanc d’Hiver
There was a good thread on this one already at this forum which I’ve read through; thanks for that.

Hoople’s Antique Gold
Never heard of this one before, but saw it near the top of Scott’s list so I’m interested. Anyone grow it in New England?

CAR or other issues? I got some scion from Fedco year before last to practice grafting on wild trees and they seemed kind of small diameter. I’ve had this apple before and it is pretty good for pies and cider, not bad eating, and I do want one red flesh variety.

Pitmaston Pine Apple
Looks interesting, Scott’s list rated it well.

The use of organic Serenade around bloom time and when CAR is active has kept it to a manageable level (did not eliminate) for me. Also seems to be a good organic option for fireblight. Bill

I didn’t spray anything special on CAR for years and while it made a few trees look really bad it ruined very few fruits. The problem is not CAR, its quince rust – it goes for the fruits.

Re: the apple varieties it sounds like you already have my input. I am in a somewhat different climate, I know for example that Karmijn does not do well in hotter climates like mine but it may be fine for you. My Pitmaston Pineapple is on G16 and that root has not been lasting beyond 10 years for me - avoid it. I topworked it on another tree, its a keeper variety. Its small but is excellent tasting.

HollyGates, Welcome! In personal conversations with one of the Cummings guys he called KdS “one of the finest apples I know of”. He also called the flavor “kaleidoscopic”. I bought one. Not the most vigorous tree on G935 in a very vigorous year here. Two years ago we squeezed 2 bushels of Baldwin for cider, all I could say was WOW! We let it set in a cold room for a week and it was exquisite…naturally sparkling and a great sweet/tart blend. Bought 2 and top worked another tree to Baldwin, Kinda, whippy growth though. I’ve grafted two trees to Calville because I know 2 fantastic bakers. Also grafted a Hoople’s on Scott’s rating. Making the choice will be great fun and lip biting tension. Best of luck!

I’ve been wondering about Serenade; great to hear a first hand report of it doing some good.

On Baldwin:
First year we did cider and pressed every variety separately, we were all impressed with the outsize quantity of clear, tasty juice that came out of the Baldwins. We have had them in the mix on and off since then; commercially grown here they are usually quite large.

Ah, so many varieties, so few trees! I’m sure none of you have experienced that situation, right? :smile:

Baldwin should work very well for you, but tends to biennialism. Simple good clean apple. It can survive most cold winters, but Fedco reports it was the leading yankee variety until a cataclysmically cold winter (circa 1930s) killed most Baldwin trees in New England, upending the apple industry there, and leading to its widespread replacement by another apple (McIntosh, I think).

Calville Blanc D’hiver should also work well for you, but you’ll need to put it in your sunniest spot. It needs lots of sun.

The others I’m not so sure

You might consider the following, if you haven’t already:

Williams Pride
Sweet Sixteen
Roxbury Russet

Have fun.

@Matt_in_Maryland, thanks for the thoughts. Yes, I have read that story about Baldwin in the Fedco catalog, and I think maybe in more detail in Kerrigan’s Johnny Appleseed book…? I feel like with climate change it’s not unlikely we’ll have another winter like that and it would wipe out all my apples that are not super hardy. But I do live close to the ocean, so maybe it won’t be as bad right here. McIntosh indeed was the replacement for mass cultivation.

All these apples will get excellent sun, being espaliered on a south-ish facing fence, though there are a few bits of shade at certain times of day.

Sweet Sixteen is one of the 7 I already have in, and despite never having tasted it I’m going to let it put on three rungs instead of just two. It seems pretty resistant to CAR so far and is reported to be easy to grow and has some fireblight resistance. So I figure I should go with that.

Roxbury Russet is another tree I have already and am letting go to three rungs. I have eaten many of these out of hand, in pie, and in both sweet and hard cider. It is a great apple. I prefer Golden Russet a little, but it is reported to be more tip bearing than Roxbury Russet, and Rox looks good for CAR and is said to be otherwise fairly disease resistant and easy growing. I’m not sure how it will work out for espalier since it is said to be “partially tip-bearing”. But I’ve seen some comments on this subject on the forum here and hope to get some suggestions on addressing this challenge at a later date.

I do plan on putting Honeycrisp on, probably on the top two tiers above the Sweet 16. Not my favorite (although very good, and better than almost anything else you can get at the supermarket), but my kids love it and have been begging me to grow it.

Will look into Williams Pride.