In part one I went over some reasons why I think home breeders have a decent chance of producing some good apples.
Part two covered pollinating flowers to make intentional crosses of two different parent apples.
In this section, I’ll discuss growing the seeds into seedlings, and options for growing those out until they fruit.
COLLECTING AND STORING SEEDS: I like to collect the seed when the apple is ripe for eating, but they seem to be mature before that. I’ve stored the seeds in little plastic baggies in the refrigerator, but they sometimes mold. Storing the seeds in slightly damp, but not wet, sand would probably be better, or you can just plant them… Read more »
The awesome Photos of pollinating in the post are by tonia Chi
In part one I laid out some ideas and a little history toward the end of convincing you to try breeding new apples. Here I present the nitty gritty of pollinating the flowers and in Part 2 I’ll cover growing the seeds out. Neither process is very difficult, nor particularly time consuming. Later on, grafting of the trees and growing them to fruition may require some skills that most people don’t have, but those can be learned elsewhere, or may be covered in future posts, so don’t let that stop you.
SELECTING PARENTS: You can of course just plant some apple seeds from any apple you like, but the real fun is in selecting two apples that have something awesome about them and assisting them to procreate. Albert Etter’s success was based on extensive trials using over 500 varieties to find apples with the most promising characteristics to use as parents. In his own words….
“In selecting apples one has a double index to go by: he selects his mother variety and his “mother-apple” to take the seeds from. The immediate success, of my work may be attributed to the foundation I laid, and my ability to select the individual fruits that will develop superior progeny.”
“I am sending a collection of some of my new varieties of apples… The whole problem is now as simple as breeding up a herd of good dairy cows when one has a good herd to begin with. “
“Some people wonder where it is possible to make any very decided Improvement over existing varieties of apples now in general cultivation. To my notion we have really only begun to improve the apple systematically. I admit I have opportunity to study first hand that which gives me an insight denied to others who think and work along other lines. Comparison is a wonderful means of discerning faint lines. By this simple mental process what seems as opaque as milk reveals lines of similarity undreamed of before.” Read more »
“…growers, shippers and retailers, who have been giving us food that looks great but often isn’t for over a century, have their own agendas.”
When writing about apples and their propagation in both technical and popular literature, it seems almost compulsory for the author to assure us that if we grow an apple from a seed, that it will not be the same as the apple that we took the seed from. We are usually further assured that the chances of actually growing a toothsome new apple variety bursting with juice and flavor from those little seeds are extremely dismal. One might imagine, and sometimes we are even subject to descriptions of, the small, hard, green, sour, bitter and worm eaten result of such an experiment! In the past, I have been discouraged from making the experiment of growing apples from seed by this common knowledge, especially upon learning that modern apple breeding programs cull thousands of seedlings to find one gem worthy of propagation.
I will concede that under many circumstances growing apples from seed may not be the wisest course of action or the most likely to yield the greatest reward. Who wants to invest in the time and patience required for the growing of an entire tree only to find the secret unlocked from it’s genes by our roll of the dice is some hard green apples for the kids to throw at each other? Not I, not ye, not no one! I only know of one apple that is supposed to grow fairly true to seed and that is the Snow Apple A.K.A. Fameuse. Otherwise the chances are that a seedling will be at least somewhat unlike it’s parents. But then, this genetic variability is what really makes the apple able to give us the great variety that it offers.
The genes of the apple hold many secrets. Read more »
Here are my tasting notes from mid to late season. The Late season extends quite late here with Lady Williams coming in at the end of February. For notes on earlier apples and my thoughts on tasting and evaluation in general, see the previous post, Red Astrachan to King David. I did not review every apple I tasted this season. If something was really good, I’m inclined to mention it, but many of them I feel I need more time to live with before I make any judgement at all. Young trees don’t always produce exemplary fruit, and it can be difficult to judge when to pick and eat apples. I also reserve the right to change my mind in the future as I encounter more specimens of various apples and maybe find new benchmarks for comparison. And, as always, what does well here in sunny (often hot) Northern California might not do so well where you live, and vice versa. This time around I’ve stuck mostly to apples that I did actually really like, or had a lot of, and passed by many that were just not that interesting. Some of these fruits are presented in the order of ripening, and some aren’t… if that makes any sense… if that doesn’t make sense, I guess I’ll just give up and get on with it.
Old Nonpareil: Light, juicy, pleasing, easy to eat. Old Nonpareil has been very enjoyable eating this year. Old Nonpareil has a difficult to describe quality that makes me think of some candy that I can’t remember, if it ever even existed in the first place. It is not particularly intensely flavored or rich though, and is more along the lines of a light refreshing pleasant apple. Everything seems to come together pretty well for an enjoyable eating experience. It has something of a citrus Read more »