By Erik Simpson


All pioneer fruit growers should keep accurate records of their cultivars in order to document what they are doing and to record their successes and failures. The reasons for your successes can be written down for you and others to duplicate in the future. Tour failures can also be written down to avoid making them again.


Take the time to jot down information on the varieties you are growing today. Taking into consideration your microclimate, hardiness zone and growing, “season, it is possible to get descriptions of the apples, cherries, pears, raspberries, etc., that you would like to try; this valuable information can also be recorded on a variety evaluation record. Once your cultivar produces fruit (and especially if it won’t produce or ripen), you can record additional information on your record such as ripening dates and general observations, together with your description of the fruit and then decide whether or not you want to keep it or recommend it to other growers. New edible varieties are discovered every year and many are waiting to be tried. Knowing what varieties will or will not produce in your location with your growing season is important to you and to all of us. This year, take the step to becoming a better gardener-record your results and share your growing record with others.


The Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers is currently in the process of publishing Edible Tree Fruits of Alaska (an accumulated record of much experience and hard-won wisdom, made possible by those growers who have kept notes on their trials and errors, their successes and failures), and so far we have identified over 90 known varieties of tree fruits-growing in Alaska that can be recommended to others. If you already have records on edible varieties which have produced, please complete a variety evaluation record (I’ve included a master form for your use) and send a copy to me or to Pam Neiswanger Warner by the end of April. We can then include the edible tree fruits that you have produced in the first issue of our publication. We will not disclose your name or location unless you wish to make trees or scionwood available (or unless you want to brag!)


(Editor’s note: Because different people like different forms, I will be providing additional master form variety evaluation sheets for your use in the next few months. I’m sure that you’ll all be able to find one that you like and enjoy using-and that’s the important thing, to find one that you’ll use.)