By Robert Purvis
In February, I received a letter from Doug Woodard, 208 Russell Ave., St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 1W8, Doug is an active member of NAFEX and had much valuable information to share with me, which may be useful to other members of the Alaska Chapter of NAFEX. I’ve sorted out the information according to fruit type.
Concerning apples, Doug had considerable to say about Lobo, a McIntosh seedling found at the Experimental Farm, Ottawa, in 1906. Lobo keeps for a few months and ripens two weeks earlier than Wealthy, which suggests it would probably ripen or be well worth a try in the Anchorage bowl. Lobo was found to be fully winter-hardy and productive at Morden, Manitoba, which is in approximately the same climatic zone as Anchorage. Wealthy, in turn, ripens 6 days earlier than McIntosh at Vineland, Ontario.
Regarding apricots. Doug said that in the Prairie Provinces that Prunus sibirica, the Siberian apricot, was preferred to the Manchurian apricot as a rootstock: “It gives a smaller tree and fewer dormancy problems.” He suggested Arthur Coutts (Box 539, Unity, Saskatchewan, S0K 4L0) as a possible source of the seed. Doug feels that Precious, Pushee and Shacklady, all of them apricots offered by Ken Taylor (Windmill Point Farm and Nursery, 2103 Perrot Blvd., Notre Dame lle Perrot, Quebec, J7V 5V6), would be good choices for our climate. They seldom fail to set a crop in Ontario. Ken’s catalog, which he sent to me promptly when I requested it, is $3.00 Canadian. It proved to be a wealth of information about fruits hardy in Quebec.
There is a pie cherry which Eddy Dugas (P.O. Box 172, Van Buren, ME 04785) has found, which like Meteor is an amarelle but slightly hardier. He describes it as equal to Montmorency in size—Montmorency grows with difficulty in that part of Maine. Its name is Dugas No. 1. Ken Taylor has a sweet cherry. “Quebec Bigarreau” or “Biga” for short, from below Quebec City. In Doug’s estimation, it would be hardy in Anchorage. Biga is at least partially self-fertile and of commercial quality.
Doug also commented that reliable reports he has read indicate that sour or sweet cherries are noticeably hardier when self-rooted. This is perhaps not surprising—both Meteor and North Star are hardier than P. mahaleb or P. mazzard cherry rootstocks.
With his letter, Doug included some Beautiful Arcade (BA) apple seed. Dan Whitney is attempting to germinate and grow these for later use as rootstocks. For those wanting to buy their own, they should order from the Scotian Gold Co-op Ltd. (Attn. Mr. Russell Zwicker, Kentville, Nova Scotia B4N 3X2). The cost is $10.00 Canadian per ounce; an ounce contains perhaps 1,000 seeds. The seed can only be ordered in September, and it is then shipped in November.
Beautiful Arcade is said to do well on heavy moist soils. It produces a tree about 85% the size of one grown on an ordinary domestic apple seedling. As an example of the beneficial effects that BA exerts on cultivars grafted to it, the Kentville Station says that Northern Spy fruits on BA in 5 years versus 10-12 on normal domestic seedlings. I have noticed that BA produces a very nicely shaped tree with wide crotch angles. The BA seed from Kentville is actually a cross of BA with Antanovka.
Doug also mentioned that the Columbia Crabapple is generally preferred as a rootstock for the Prairies. Its ancestory is Siberian Crabapple crossed with Broad Green, an old Russian apple not particularly hardy itself.
A last comment about cultural practices from an article by Harold W. Schroeder in Pomona in Review is that apples, bearing a light crop may ripen 3-5 days earlier, while those with a heavy crop may ripen 3-5 days later than the average picking date. This is one more good argument for thinning fruit on trees in Alaska, especially those whose ripening times may be late in the season.
One last item of note: St. Catharines is where the 1989 national NAFEX convention will be held. It lies about 10-15 miles from Niagara Falls and about 240-270 from St. Lawrence Nurseries.
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