Best of the new apples.
Recently, we polled apple-growing experts to get their opinions about which new varieties hold the most promise. They nominated nine apples: four early-ripening varieties and five mid- to late-ripening kinds. All are available but not yet widely distributed; you'll find sources listed below.
Most early apples have two things going for them: they ripen early in the season, and they make good sauce. The following varieties go a step further, possessing attributes such as great fresh flavor and disease resistance.
Early August. Two varieties impressed growers and tasters: 'Empress' for its very sweet flesh, and 'William's Pride' (which is on the tart side) because it's the earliest apple with immunity to scab, a fungus disease that causes spotted or deformed fruit. Both are 'McIntosh' types.
Mid-August. 'Alkmene' has a spicy, sweet-tart taste, produces well, and flowers early enough to pollinate 'Gravenstein'. 'Alkmene' thrives where summers are cool; fruit gets sunburned where it's hot.
'Ginger Gold' has large, flavorful fruit reminiscent of a tart 'Golden Delicious'. The skin is golden where summers are hot, greener in cool climates.
MID- TO LATE-SEASON WINNERS
These five varieties ripen over a six-week period starting in September. Their fruits keep better than earlier apples.
Late September. 'Swiss Gourmet' tastes and looks something like 'Gala', but the fruit is larger, with some russeting at the blossom end. It does well in most areas (except the hottest climates), and sets fruit without much winter chilling.
Early October. 'Fiesta' produces sprightly, sweet-tart fruit that reminds us of a larger 'Cox Orange Pippin', but without the latter's russeting and splitting problems. Fruits from this vigorous tree keep well.
Mid-October. 'Enterprise' bears red fruit whose sweet flavor makes it a good dessert apple, and they keep well. 'Florina', another red, produces large, sweet-tart fruit; it does best where summers are hot. Both of these varieties are immune to scab.
Early November. 'Gold Rush' has great flavor and long storage life. It is immune to scab but susceptible to mildew, and it needs a hot-summer climate to thrive.
These nurseries sell trees bare-root or in containers; catalogs are free unless noted.
Cloud Mountain Farm, 6906 Goodwin Rd., Everson, Wash. 98247, (206) 966-5859; sells 'Alkmene', 'Fiesta', 'Florina'; catalog $1.
New York State Fruit Testing Cooperative, Box 462, Geneva, N.Y. 14456, (315) 787-2205; sells 'Empress', 'Enterprise', 'Gold Rush'.
Portland Nursery, 5050 Stark St. S.E., Portland 97215, (503) 231-5050; sells 'Swiss Gourmet'.
Raintree Nursery, 391 Butts Rd., Morton, Wash. 98356, (206) 496-6400; sells 'Alkmene', 'Enterprise', 'Fiesta', 'Gold Rush', 'William's Pride'.
Van Well Nursery, Box 1339, Wenatchee, Wash. 98807, (800) 572-1553; sells 'Ginger Gold'.