How about these ap­ples?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - Bob Bey­fuss Bob Bey­fuss lives and gar­dens in Schoharie County. Send him an e-mail to rlb14@cor­nell. edu.

Of all the crops I have grown, or tried to grow in my own back­yard gar­dens, ap­ples have been the hard­est to du­pli­cate in terms of the qual­ity of those grown pro­fes­sion­ally. Our Hud­son Val­ley re­gion is well- suited for com­mer­cial ap­ple pro­duc­tion, with Columbia, Duchess and Greene coun­ties hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant acreage de­voted to these pome fruit.

My com­puter’s spell check de­vice thinks that “pome” is a mis­spelled word, but it ac­tu­ally refers to the type of fruit that are ap­ples and pears. These fruit have many seeds in­side them, de­pend­ing on how well they were pol­li­nated, as com­pared to “stone” fruit such as peaches, plums and cher­ries, which have only one seed. Ap­ples were one of the last fruits do­mes­ti­cated by our an­ces­tors be­cause they do not self-pol­li­nate. Ap­ples are prop­a­gated by graft­ing or “bud­ding,”, which is a spe­cial­ized type of graft­ing that uses only a sin­gle bud from the de­sired tree. The Chi­nese are his­tor­i­cally cred­ited with per­fect­ing this tech­nique. Ap­ples are of­ten sub­ject to a sec­ond and some­times a third graft­ing pro­ce­dure us­ing spe­cific root­stocks.

There are thou­sands of named ap­ple va­ri­eties and dozens of dif­fer­ent types of root­stocks that are adapted to dif­fer­ing soil con­di­tions. Spe­cific types of root­stocks are also used to de­ter­mine the size

of the tree. “Stan­dard” root­stocks re­sult in trees that may be 20 feet or more tall and may re­quire 10 years or so to reach full pro­duc­tiv­ity. Dwarf­ing root­stocks can pro­duce trees that are only 6 feet tall and may even be trained to grow on a trel­lis, like grapes. These dwarf or semi-dwarf trees of­ten bear fruit a cou­ple of years af­ter plant­ing.

One of the very best ap­ples for fresh eat­ing, salad, sauce and freez­ing is Jona­mac. This ap­ple is usu­ally har­vested about Sept. 20. Mac­in­tosh is a tra­di­tional fresh-eat­ing fa­vorite of many peo­ple, but it is rated as only fair for sauce and bak­ing and poor for freez­ing. It also ripens in late Septem­ber.

As we en­ter early Oc­to­ber, the choice of ex­cel­lent ap­ple va­ri­eties in­creases. Spar­tan, Cort­land, Ma­coun and Jonathan all ripen dur­ing the first week of Oc­to­ber, and they are all rated as ex­cel­lent for fresh eat­ing.

Cort­land is also a won­der­ful ap­ple for pies.

Rhode Is­land Green­ing and Twenty Ounce are large ap­ples that are best re­served for sauce, bak­ing and freez­ing. Dur­ing mid-Oc­to­ber, my fa­vorite va­ri­eties ripen. Em­pire is a won­der­ful allpur­pose ap­ple, and Jon­agold is my fa­vorite for eat­ing fresh. Em­pire is a cross be­tween Mac­in­tosh, and Red De­li­cious and has the best fea­tures of each. Jon­agold is a cross be­tween Jonathan and Golden De­li­cious and has large fruit that also makes great pies.

Red De­li­cious ripens about mid-Oc­to­ber also, but I don’t care for the fla­vor or tex­ture of this va­ri­ety, and the trees are es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to train in a back­yard gar­den. To­ward the end of the month, we have North­ern Spy (very hard to grow at home) and Golden De­li­cious (easy and some­what re­sis­tant to rust). Both of these are ex­cel­lent all pur­pose fruit. Idared, Rome and Mutsu (now called Crispin) end the sea­son with a late Oc­to­ber harvest date.

Mutsu is the best of these three, if you don’t mind a green-skinned ap­ple, but both Idared and Rome are also good for bak­ing, sauce, sal­ads and freez­ing. Most of these va­ri­eties are avail­able at lo­cal Road­side strands and farm mar­kets right now, as well as some other, new va­ri­eties such as “Gala” and “Honey Crisp”. Re­mem­ber that it is gen­er­ally far less ex­pen­sive to pur­chase ap­ples lo­cally then to try to grow them your­self.

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