I read stories about apple taste year one is unreliable gauge of future taste. I can’t recall that ever happening here- duds the first year fruiting remain duds in later years. Which makes me quick to graft over to something new. Hunge is on thin ice.
How often do your apples improve in taste with passing years? Is it rare or common?
I suspect part of the improvement from year to year may be related to getting the hang of the ideal time to pick each specific variety. Additionally, if the tree is lacking in certain nutrients which may be affecting fruit quality that may be overcome in subsequent years as roots stretch further.
Young trees will often produce fruit the first couple of years that isn’t top quality. Some cultivars vary greatly from year to year based on the weather of each year. Old heirlooms are often more variable as well compared to modern apples since breeding programs try to produce apples with consistent characteristics.
I think if in 5 years you haven’t got any apples that are to you’re liking it’s time to replace the cultivar. Or at least think about it. That’s a long time but if you remove it earlier you risk losing something that can be quite good at least in some years. Something like Sweet Sixteen would be at risk of early culling. Also as mentioned earlier in the thread finding the right picking time and the right “clues” that tell you the apple is going to be a good one may take you several seasons.
As far as improving taste the best example I can give is my Winecrisp. First year the tree set three apples and I shared one with a friend. He didn’t like it at all. The next year the tree set a decent crop and I gave him a variety of apples but I only gave him one Winecrisp since he didn’t like it but I hoped the taste would be more to his liking this time. It turns out Winecrisp is now his favorite apple and I ended up giving him a bag of them. So flavor can vary year from year and it can improve. And sometimes it can improve a lot.
Most of my apple varieties are on multi-grafted trees. So they’ve come into fruit pretty quickly, and don’t spend a lot of time maturing the tree.
I’m ready to give up on Kandil Sinap after 5+ years of bland fruit. Granted, I haven’t thinned them effectively in any of those years, but am unlikely to do so in the future either. They look cool, but not cool enough to keep around.
Also culling Hudson’s Golden Gem. I can’t get good fruit from them with my laid back care approach. Not worth messing with compared to the others.
If you live in a marginal area like mine it’s certainly true fruit is not its best the first year. Typically that’s not true of all apples but it is true of nearly all pears. Have you ever had first year apples be malformed or small? I view it like your first year is like having a drought as the tree becomes established. Typically the tree blooms a few blooms when it starts fruiting. Most fall off the tree since is not ready to support fruit yet. The next year a few apple stay on the tree but fruit may not be great. As roots bring more nutrients fruit is better. I’ts my opinion larger trees make better fruit. More roots = more nutrients its just how i see it. Had several ohxf333 tree rootstocks and the grafts produced very tiny horrible tasting fruit the first year. The second year was still bad. The third year fruit was normal tasting. The fourth year of fruiting it was normal sized. Told my friends I should have just planted standard trees because the pears did not make good fruit until they were 12’+ tall. Now I think you could trim them down and fruit and size would be great. So don’t give up on ohxf333 the fruit is smaller and tastes bad but it’s temporary. Back to your apple question honeycrisp is tempermental at my place. Some years hc makes bushels but it took a few years off. The question is why is hc and other apples like that and the problem is we don’t know the answer. Back to your question my new rule is wait 3 years on fruit taste to improve. My small yellow pear tasted like a green walnut husk its first year. Thankfully I didn’t graft it over its now my best.
Thanks all. My Goldrush was a hit from day one and every year thereafter- as @mroot says it’s a heavily tested university apple, so consistency is expected. Also agree that heirlooms are way more variable year to year. Goldrush spoiled me I guess. Belle de Boskoop’s first apple here was also a home run, 1850’s Dutch. Ditto Keepsake. Thanks for heads-up on Sweet 16- I topworked a dud heirloom to it last year. I gave up on Enterprise after 5 years of mediocre fruit. Ditto Williams Pride. So I have yet to experience taste improvement with time after trialing 30 to 40 varieties over four decades.
For what it’s worth, I have HGG on MM111 here, and it has grown and fruited well. In my coastal Northern California climate, I treat it with horticultural oil in the winter and sometimes a shot of neem in the spring, and that’s it. Apart from the usual codling moths, it experiences no pest damage. I give it a bit of TreeTone annually.
Its apples are large, unusual, and quite good.
Returning to the original question: Hunge is also quite good here, though very different. I do think that I’ve observed improvement in a number of apple varieties after the first fruiting year, including Hunge.
I’ve got a HGG that I grafted to b118 in 2011 that has yet to produce a single fruit. I’ve eaten the fruit from other sources before and really enjoyed them and that’s why I grafted the variety. I’ve since grafted another HGG to antonovka, but I’ll be a really old guy by the time that tree produces fruit most likely. I wonder every year if HGG’s fruit buds simply aren’t winter hardy at my location. I’ve got the room so for as long as the trees stay alive, I’ll let them stick around.
I am one of those who runs out of patience after 5 years of mediocre apples. I mean 5 years from the time the tree start producing. I am also talking about just apples, not other fruit. (I have heard some jujubes could take up to 10 years to round into form, yikes).
Some of my apples have been much improved from year one to year two (or year three). Baker’s Delight and Rubaiyat are the examples.
If everything stays the same i.e. soil, water, sunlight, fertilizer, etc. I say, 5 years max for me before those poor quality are gone.