Curtis H. Dearborn*
‘Summerred’ is the first apple of high eating quality ever to have developed ripe fruits on the tree in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska. Its flavor is a blend of ‘McIntosh’ and ‘Delicious’ and its fragrance exceeds that of ‘McIntosh.’ The texture of ‘Summerred’ resembles that of ‘Golden Delicious/ except that ‘Summerred’ is firmer. ‘Summerred’ fruits were on display at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer from August 26 to September 5, 1977. Their bright-red color and large size attracted the attention of many fair goers (Figure 1). The purpose of this report Is to acquaint prospective Alaskan fruit growers with the merits of ‘Summerred’ apple and how it may supplement earlier recommended apple varieties (1).
The ‘Summerred’ apple originated at Summerland, British Columbia, having been selected in 1961 by K. O. Lapins from seedlings of open-pollinated ‘Summerland’ S-4-8. ‘Summeriand’ apple resulted from a cross of ‘McIntosh’ and ‘Golden Delicious.’
During late winter of 1972-1973, scionwood of several apples was obtained from the USDA Plant Introduction Station at Glenn Dale, Maryland, and, in the spring of 1973, was grafted onto a five-year-old trunk of Malus baccata, a hardy-ornamental apple first introduced to this region in early 1900. It was the only rootstock on hand at the time ‘Summer- red’ scionwood was available for grafting. This scion produced the tree that first fruited in 1977. So far, winter injury has not been apparent on this tree of ‘Summerred’ even though it is growing without winter protection.
Summerred apple has been propagated on M 26 Dwarfing rootstock and standard seedling apple rootstocks by nurserymen in Washington and was listed for sale in 1978 by C & O Nursery, Buckley Nursery, and Van Well Nursery. Other suppliers may exist. There is no assurance that ‘Summerred’ will survive in Alaska on M 26 rootstock. However, these are common nonhardy rootstocks on which other varieties of apples and crabapples are sold to Alaskan growers.
A short note released to the public in March of 1978 stimulated the operators of several plant outlets in the Cook Inlet region to obtain and sell trees of the ‘Summerred’ apple. From these local outlets and the out-of-state nurseries, customers have purchased trees and have planted them in a variety of locations. ‘Summerred’ apple, therefore, will be tested in a wide range of growing conditions in Alaska. In addition, ten cooperators at selected locations encompassing a wide range of environmental conditions from the Copper River Basin to Anvik on the Yukon River were each provided with a tree of ‘Summerred’ for evaluation.
Time will show whether the M 26 rootstock on which ‘Summerred’ was propagated has enough cold resistance to survive in Alaska. It is expected that some nurseries in Alaska soon will offer this and other desirable adapted varieties of apples on hardy rootstocks.
Related research in the Matanuska Valley was conducted in an effort to improve rootstocks. Seeds of M. domestics, the native apple of New England, from fruits of selected forest trees of New Hampshire, were planted in conjunction with seeds from ‘McIntosh’ ‘York Imperial’ ‘Rescue’, ‘Chinese Golden Early,’ and ‘Quality’ crabapple. The ‘Quality’ crab apple was the only material that produced a significant percentage of winterhardy seedlings. Seedlings of M. domestics grew well in 1977 as shown in Figure 2, but their wood was not winterhardy, as can be seen in Figure 3. (Information gathered on these potential rootstock materials was obtained separate and distinct from the normal research program but is included here for guidance to others.)
The ‘Summerred’ that fruited for the first time in 1977 has set nearly as many fruit again in 1978, which is a very desirable fruiting characteristic. Some fruit trees do not fruit as heavily in the season following a large crop. Some apples do not set fruit with their own pollen. These points have not been tested in Alaska for ‘Summerred’ because nearby ‘Chinese Golden Early’ and ‘Rescue’ varieties were flowering when ‘Summerred’ was in bloom.
‘Chinese Golden Early’ is a very sweet, pleasantly flavored apple to eat out-of-band: Its fruits are intermediate in size between those of ‘Summerred’ and ‘Rescue.’ It has been me earliest good-quality apple to mature on the tree. ‘Chinese Golden Early’ ripens at Palmer from August 18 to August 28 depending upon the season. Scionwood of this variety was obtained from the USDA. Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, Maryland, as PI 292930 and. grafted to Malus baccata in 1967. ‘Chinese Golden Early fruited first in 1970 and in each ear since. The ripening of this variety is always a pleasant beginning of the apple-ripening season in Alaska. Scionwood of this variety is available, in season, from the Alaska Agricultural Experiment Station, Palmer, Alaska. We have no information as to the availability of ‘Chinese Golden Early’ from commercial propagators.
‘Rescue’ is an apple-crabapple type, as shown in Figure 4, its fruits are smaller than those of ‘Summerred’ (Figure 5). ‘Rescue’ usually is an annual bearer and has been bearing heavily at the Matanuska Station since 1955. Its fruits are nearly as large as ‘Chinese Golden Early,’ medium to dark red, sharp and spicy in flavor, and ripen on the tree about September 1. Scionwood of ‘Rescue’ is also available in season from the Experiment Station. We know of no other source of ‘Rescue.’ Neither ‘Rescue’ nor ‘Chinese Golden Early’ has shown evidence of significant winter injury. Ali three of these varieties were in the orchard during the -40°F temperature of January 4, 5, and 6, 1975.
Prospective Alaskan fruit growers looking for a better apple should find ‘Summerred’ an excellent choice as it adds a standard-sized, high-quality, storage-type apple to the very- desirable, early- and mid-season production of ‘Chinese Golden Early’ and ‘Rescue.’
- Dearborn, C, H. 1971. Apples in Alaska. Institute of Agricultural Sciences, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Agroborealis 3(1):7-8.
NOTE: Mention of a trademark, proprietary product, or vendor does not constitute a guarantee or warranty of the product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and does not imply its approval to the exclusion of other products or vendors that may also be suitable.