albionwood (albionwood) wrote in organic_farms,

Topworking Apple Trees

During the nice weather last week, I finally got out into the orchard and did something I've been talking of doing for about three or four years now: Reworking some of my under-performing apple trees into new varieties. Photos and brief descriptions are in this Flickr set.

Finished grafting

I hope to heck these grafts take and grow strongly! It will mean less total production for at least two to three years, while the new tops grow out, but after that it should mean a lot more of the kinds of apples I can really use.

Here's what I worked over:

1 Granny Smith => Karmijn de Sonnaville
1 Granny Smith => King David
1 Wickson => King David
2 Sweet Coppin => King David
1 Spigold => King David
2 Rootstock shoots (from trees that died) => King David
1 Winter Banana => Taylor's
1 Newtown Pippin => Taylor's
1.5 Lady => Muscat de Bernay

The Grannies were good trees, very productive, but the apples are nothing special and hence didn't sell well, and anyway Rhode Island Greening fills that niche with a much better apple. Wickson is a good cider apple - in a different climate; here the yields are too low. Sweet Coppin doesn't like this climate, it breaks dormancy too late and is scab-susceptible, the fruit doesn't keep at all. Spigold looks great but isn't all that good an apple. Winter Banana I bought when I thought my old WB was going to die, but it came back so this tree is superfluous, and WB is not a particularly good apple. Newtown Pippins are really good - about one year in three. Lady ripens too late to be of any use at all here.

King David is the magic ingredient in the best ciders I've made and I cannot have too many of them. Taylor's and Muscat de Bernay are bittersweet cider apples to blend with the KD. Karmijn de Sonnaville is loupnoir's favorite dessert apple... nuff said!

I'd have done more, but used up all the dormant scionwood I had cut back in February. That's it for this year; next year, I need to have a plan, so I know how much scion wood to get.
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