Peters Creek, Alaska
Dwight Bradley, Sept. 1, 2000
It’s finally starting to look like an orchard. Without a doubt this has been the best apple year since we planted the orchard in 1992. Most trees survived last winter with very little damage. Bloom lasted from June 3 to somewhere around the last week of June; a few trees put out some very late blossoms. May and June were dry, as usual, but somehow we managed to keep everything well enough irrigated. We were gone for much of July but rumor has it that it was wet and cold. The apple trees seemed to like it, though. August has been pretty typical (wet and cold). Out of 100 apple trees, 76 bloomed and 67 have fruit. We thinned in early July, taking out about 60% of the apples. In hindsight, 70% would have been better-especially any apples on the shady underside. Growth this year has been extraordinary: many trees have put on 24 to 30″ of fat growth. Next year I’ll actually have scionwood that looks like it came from the Lower 48. Here are a few comments on particular varieties.
Norland. Twenty six trees are bearing. The tallest trees, between 10 and 12 feet, are absolutely laden. I suspect that a bit more thinning might have helped. All but 3 out of 30 Norlands are thriving. For some reason, three consecutive trees in the front row of the orchard are struggling. They are not the first trees to have had trouble with that spot.
Parkland. Twenty Parklands have fruit. The tallest trees are slightly shorter than the Norlands of the same age. Despite fairly intense thinning, I wish now that I’d been more ruthless. Parkland seems to have much weaker branches than Norland; many are sagging from the weight of the apples. A few Parklands and Norlands are already edible, but they should be fully ripe and ready to pick around Sept. 20.
Trailman. We have five bearing Trailman trees, counting one that was planted as a Norda but now obviously is a Trailman. This year, like last, Trailman was the first to leaf out, and the first to bloom. Again, many apples are splitting open from too much rain. This could be turn out to be a real drawback in Anchorage, where every August seems to be wet. Two of our trees suffer from pendulous branches, but the other two trees are nice and upright; I don’t see a pattern.
Rescue. We have two Rescue trees, both loaded. A big scaffold branch on one tree broke off from the load; it had a very narrow crotch with a bark inclusion, so I guess this was inevitable. Last year, one of the trees bore elongate fruit, while the other bore round fruit. This year, strangely enough, both are bearing round fruit. I had thought that one or the other of the trees was an imposter but I guess I was wrong.
Other varieties: Heyer 20 is our nicest tree, a reliable bearer of fairly large apples. Unfortunately, they have only ripened on time once in the past 6 years. Morden 359 (is this the same as Vick’s Pick?) is still alive (planted 1992) and still bearing a few apples, but the tree is not happy and the apples have never ripened. Crimson Beauty is a similar case: the tree (also planted in 1992) is struggling but not dead; it has set only about 15 apples in the past 5 years. The few apples that have ripened have been excellent, and a bright red. Centennial is a really nice, reliable, yellow apple-crab. I have one tree planted in 1995 and a couple of much younger ones. The 1995 tree was missing its tag and until this year I called it the “B-1 Unknown Apple-Crab”, after row B, aisle 1 in the orchard. Now I have a younger Centennial coming along, grown from scionwood from the grafting workshop, and it is obviously the same thing as my B-1 tree. Two Westland trees will bear fruit for the first time this year. The Hugh Harris mystery apple, Collett, Novosibirski Sweet, Arbor Dale, and Heyer 12 are also bearing.
Peters Creek, Alaska
Tami Schlies, Sept. 1, 2000
I myself produced my first apple this year, on a Norland tree I grafted last year on baccata rootstock, and my kids are dying to try it. My Rescue crab of the same age flowered, and was likely the pollinator for this tree, but it did not set fruit. Both of these trees are still in five gallon pots, though I hope to get them into the ground before freeze up.
My 3 year old tree in the back yard (which I think is a Parkland on ranetka, but lost the tag) has yet to flower, so I got out there and tied those vertical branches down with panty hose. Maybe it will liven things up!
The nine trees I grafted on ranetka this spring all took, though some grew better than others. This winter will tell on them. Five Evans cherry trees in pots all put on major growth this summer, as well.
My Ozark Beauty and “over the fence” strawberries produced very well this year, with less of a root weevil problem than in the past. I used beneficial nematodes that also work on the root maggots that eat our broccoli, but am unsure of whether that helped with the strawberry root weevils. It sure worked on the broccoli, though!
I’d love to hear how your tree(s) or other fruit did this year, too! Happy Harvesting!