by Joe Orsi
During the first week in October, Ed Buyarski, myself, and portions of our families participated in an apple tasting session from apples grown at our test orchards located north of Auke Bay, We collectively tasted 36 varieties of apples and recorded many of their attributes (Table 1). Although the taste ratings listed in the table are pretty straight forward, I should note the tasters did not always reach a consensus for a rating score on each apple, possibly because of some “home orchard” preferences. Also, numbers of certain apple varieties were small, in part because some varieties bore fruit for the first time this year. Consequently, the taste of these varieties may not be truly be representative of other apples that were produced from older trees. It is also important to note that an earlier apple tasting date would have yielded different results. As indicated in the table, some varieties with a poor rating were overripe and were good or excellent apples earlier in the season. In Southeast, it would therefore be prudent to grow good quality “early” summer apples (i.e., Liveland Raspberry, Geneva Early, and Red Astrachan), as well as good quality “late” summer apples (i.e., Discovery, Ginger Gold, and Wynoochee Early). It is also not a bad idea to plant a few fail safe producers (i.e., Early Harvest, Yellow Transparent, and Dolgo).
Apple varieties shown in Table 1 were obtained from a number of sources. Many European varieties Ed obtained through the germoplasam repository in Geneva, New York. Other varieties were secured as scion (apple shoots for grafting) or grafted trees through mail-order nurseries or correspondents with fruit explorers in North America. Scion was also obtained by Ed from some of the original trees grown at the Sitka Experimental station at the turn of the century (e.g., varieties Sitka #11 and #20). Hopefully, in ensuing years, other varieties propagated will bear fruit for future comparisons. Anyone interested in scion from the trees listed in the table should contact Ed or myself.
The general flavor of apples grown in Southeast Alaska can be compared to certain commercial varieties. In my opinion, here are examples of what Alaska apples taste like when – compared to commercial apples (in parenthesis): Duchess of Oldenberg (Granny Smith), Liveland Raspberry (Gala), Red Astrachan (McIntosh), Ginger Gold (Golden Delicious), Geneva Early (Spartan), and Discovery (Braebum), A couple varieties tasted were spicy and sweet and had good “stand alone” cider potential; these were Centennial and Sops of Wine. Although not tasted here, there are numerous Dolgo crab apple trees in Juneau which are reported to be valuable in producing jelly.
Table 1. – Apple varieties and their characteristics as determined by taste tests conducted on 05 October 1997
 This taste test date favored later ripening apples for our region; many varieties noted here as overripe were good-excellent eating apples earlier in the season (i.e., Centennial, Geneva Early, Liveland Raspberry, Parkland, Red Astrachan, and Snovit).
 Underlined varieties are reported to have some resistance to apple scab.
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