The next great pear or apple

Anyone of these random seedlings could be the next great pear or apple. These come up from windfalls in the orchard. Anyone growing out your seedlings? These look like pears. They appear to be hybrids between european and asian pears. Keep in mind these pears could literally turn out to be anything.





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It is important to recognize the number of high quality fruit cultivars whose pedigrees are listed as “chance seedling”.

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@Richard

Thats true and the high number of failures that get grafted over. Most fruits are chance seedlings. Lets face it even planned crosses seldom turn out good. Many disrase tolerant pears leave something to be desired in flavor or size. As an example
"The history of Warren pears is filled with mystery, rumors, and a touch of whimsy. The first written record of the variety was featured in Pomona Magazine in 1986, claiming that Thomas O. Warren had discovered the Warren pear growing on a tree in a friend’s backyard in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1976. Once the article was released, Warren began to tell a new story of how he found the fruit on a tree beside a post office and USDA soil conservation service office. This rumor remained the primary origin story for quite some time, and many growers in the present-day still retell this story as the pear’s true origins. At some point in the late 20th century, Warren was questioned about the validity of his post office discovery, leading Warren to change the story once again, saying he found the fruits at an old test site of Mississippi State University, where the pear variety magness was once planted. Magness pears were developed from the same cross as Warren pears, the American giant seckel pear and the European comice pear, leading many experts to believe the two pears were the same. Oregon State University eventually disproved this theory, deeming the two cultivars similar, sharing the same parents, but genetically different. Today Warren pears are available in limited quantities through specialty orchards across the United States. "

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From what I read in forums, gardeners experimenting with breeding often fail to grasp that professional breeding programs are concerned with weeding out unwanted traits.

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The main issue with large breeding programs at Universities and such, is that they are breeding for specific traits and qualities. These are things like color, firmness, ability to withstand shipping, how long the fruit will stay in storage, sugar content, etc. The programs throw out crosses that probably taste better, but lack one or more of the characteristics that they select for. Ive long wondered how many would have been top selling backyard orchard style apples have been discarded by U of Minnesota, PRI, and Cornell, had they been released to the public.

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This was famously due to selecting for (among other things) shelf life. But successive breeds of peaches were rapidly loosing flavor while shelf life increased. 20 years ago someone finally noticed and it was determined that certain proteins responsible for a significant portion of the flavor in many fruits were among those being weeded out. Since then the olfactory discipline of Flavor Science has moved on to Flavor Chemistry which pays more attention to details. I’m presently studying fruit-specific flavor coordinates based on dozens of flavor related molecules in fruits.

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or incorporating new traits such as enhanced disease tolerance. This usually requires multiple generations as many disease tolerance genes are recessive.

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So many callery seedlings…hard to raise seedling pears I’d think. Unless you saved seed from a good pear.

But, apples? I have found a number of ‘baby’ trees. Have raised several to fruiting…nothing to get excited about…but those are in fact “frankentrees” currently…so something good did come from them.

And I’m raising my first red fleshed seedlings currently. Probably at least 3 years to tasting first fruit from any.

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UM thought Frostbite (MN 447) was unmarketable due to the odd flavor(s). I believe it was first produced in the late 1920s. Frostbite was/is very important to the UM apple breeding program due to it’s winter hardiness and high sugar level.

It’s probably the most unique tasting apple I’ve ever eaten.

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Lost my first ones, and last year only one apple having one seed…but I planted it yesterday.
So, seedlings of Frostbite are but one of my interests.

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I’ll be planting some Frostbite seeds in another week or so.

If there’s another apple with a more unique “non apple” taste than Frostbite I’d sure be interested in hearing about it.

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What do you think @scottfsmith ?

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I know you asked for Scott, but the most non apple taste I have ever experienced was Eden, a similar apple to Wickson. It tastes like a combination of a lychee, a grape and malted barley.

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Any idea how winter hardy Eden may be? How similar to Wickson? Wickson here in the north isn’t what I’d call a great fresh eating apple/crab.

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I have Wickson and Eden. I am in zone 6a SE Michigan. Wickson ripens late for me and sometimes doesn’t ripen in time. When it does, it is very good. I much prefer Eden. It ripens mid season for me just at the ideal time. I think Eden’s flavors are even more complex than Wickson.
Eden does very well her in Michigan and currently it’s my favorite apple of them all.
As for winter hardiness, my tree has been in the ground for about 8-10 years. We have had temps as low as -10 during that time. It’s doing fine.

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This points out another facet missed by gardeners experimenting with breeding: professional breeding programs are concerned with numerous generations, not just a single batch of seeds. You of course are aware of this, having bred among other things – chickens that lay blue eggs :slight_smile: .

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I’m responsible for 10 or more tomato varieties, a dozen or so peppers, and a line of silver laced wyandotte chickens that lay blue eggs. The tomatoes were selected for enhanced disease tolerance and outstanding production and flavor. The peppers were from a cross of Orange Bell X Little Bells of which I sent F2 seed to Frank Morton at Wildgardenseed back in 2015. The chickens have been my longest term and most expensive breeding effort to date. I started in February 2014 with 3 trays of blue eggs from Keith Bramwell at University of Arkansas. I’ve crossed, back-crossed, inter-crossed, and re-crossed so many times I no longer track pedigrees. I just pick the birds that look closest to what I am selecting toward and remove the off types.

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While I haven’t grown out seedlings except for root stock, I do have a wild apple I just propagated this spring. In 2017 I grafted a wild tree near the house with Cox Orange Pippin. I left a nurse branch to support the tree until the grafted Cox could do so. The wild tree always had small, scabby fruits that weren’t good eating. As the Cox grew, I was spraying the entire tree to knock back any disease the original tree might be harboring. Getting that scab under control allowed the tree to produce fruit that was much larger and much to my surprise it was quite good. The Cox is now on its second year of blooming and I’ve decided not to cut the nurse branch back because I like the fruit and its bloom overlaps with the Cox providing me with a pollinator. However, I did note this spring the nurse branch has an area where it’s losing bark, so I grafted it to B.9. It’s an early apple, ripens over a period of time, it’s pretty good picked early, and good fully ripened as well, but not as crisp. Ripens from early to late Sept in upstate NY. I assume it’s a crab cross of some sort, although I have no knowledge what homestead apples would have been planted near our property. I haven’t tried storing any and I anticipate it wouldn’t be a good storage apple.



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Yes;, I have hundreds of seedlings around here. Not many bearing yet, just a few plums that are nothing special. It will be interesting to see what develops. Lots of apples, some about 5 years old now.

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, most orchards in the U.S. started as seedling trees. Johnnie Appleseed made his fortune by guessing future movement of pioneers and starting nurseries of seedling apple trees to sell once they arrived and then selling the land when the neighborhood got too crowded for his eccentric tastes.

Most of the apples back then were used for cider for which seedling trees worked just fine, but apple butter, dried apples, culinary, and fresh eating apples were also important, so when a seedling proved especially good for one of these purposes, the orchardist might graft over other trees to this select one. Then if other settlers got excited about a variety in a neighbors orchard, they might take some wood… and so on and so on.

In Europe they were pretty much sticking to the same varieties at this time, or accepting new ones at a much slower pace so there was an explosion of new and wonderful varieties across the Atlantic of a magnitude Europe never experienced.

Chance seedlings still sometimes find their way to popularity in he U.S. but the dynamic is much different and they’ve slipped into a small minority of new introductions. However, it is still a great hobby to try.

Right now I am only experimenting with an occasional plum and apricot. Where I am there is limited research on the development of improved varieties of either.

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