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 Old apple tree: identifying and propagating 
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Eugene, OR
Post Old apple tree: identifying and propagating
Hi all,

I was referred here from another forum for some questions I have about an apple tree growing in my yard. I live in Eugene, Oregon, in a house built in the late 1950s, and when I moved in a few years ago this apple tree was already very established (and out of control, but I'm working on it).

I have two main questions about it: First, can anyone help identify what type of apples I have? The apple tree is pretty large (standard) and bears early (roughly late July to early September). The fruit itself is moderately tart and very firm when fresh (makes fantastic pies), but keeps very poorly. See below for some pictures from last growing season.

Second: Since we may be moving out of the area in the next year or two when my wife goes to graduate school, I would like to try to propagate the tree to wherever I move next (unless it is a very common variety). Should I look into getting some rootstocks and learning to graft scions? When is a good time of year to start, and does anyone know of any local resources I can use to help me? I'm not a born plant genius but I'm willing to learn.

Thanks in advance; any help is appreciated.

Pics:

Image

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Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:54 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:30 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Portland, Oregon
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Blandoon,
It looks like some kind of MacIntosh cross, I will investigate a bit and get back to you. Shaun

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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:50 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Thanks Shaun. I'm (now) thinking "Jersey Mac" - one of the McIntosh crosses. All the photos I've looked at online seem to have polished off that apparent wax. And the middle photo here looked like a Japanese plum to me!

Blandoon, this is tricky... if you don't 'guess' right, you'll eventually end up with a mistaken replacement. You can always graft, or have a replacement grafted. Eugene isn't that far away from Portland, or wherever next years "Scion Exchange" and grafting event takes place. If you secured some dormant scions this winter, Shaun or I could easily make you up however many of these trees you wanted... Or bring your scion wood to the grafting classes a couple week's earlier (@ Clackamas Community College), learn, then do it yourself.

Shaun's one of our apple ID guys; and you may consider bringing in some (refrigerated) specimens to the HOS All About Fruit Show in October? But those McIntosh 'children' can look and taste quite a bit alike (I think) - though I'm no expert on IDing - I stick to juicing and grafting. But Shaun does everything!

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Fri Jun 22, 2007 7:26 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Eugene, OR
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Thanks for the replies... that waxy stuff on the skin seems much more apparent in the flash photos than in real life. I did no spraying whatsoever last year, and this year I have most of them covered with the nylon footies, which I recently read about. It's pretty doable if you only have one tree.

At one point my theory was that these are Red Astrakhan (or Astrachan?), based partly on their culinary quality and super-early harvest date (right now they are roughly golf- to racquetball size). But since I have never tasted a real Red Astrakhan, that was only a guess based on photos and descriptions.

I would definitely like to attend one of the events so I can learn more about grafting and so on, and I'll bring some apples if I can store them until then. They seriously don't keep well - by last October, the ones we had left in the refrigerator were starting to shrivel up like giant red raisins.


Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:03 pm
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Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:12 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Zone 5, Maine
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How about a picture of one cut in half to see the color of the flesh. red Astachan has very white flesh. Your description and pictures do seem to point to Red Astrachan which is a great tasting early apple. There was one here on the farm for 25 years until it fell over a couple of years back. It is still sprouting so I also hope to spread it around. The bloom is also very characteristic of Red Astrachan.Bberry


Sun Jun 24, 2007 1:52 am
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Joined: Thu Jun 21, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 6
Location: Eugene, OR
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Thanks... I'll post some pictures of the flesh as soon as I have a ripe one (shouldn't be too much longer now).


Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:15 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:30 pm
Posts: 46
Location: Portland, Oregon
Post Old Apple Tree ID
The blueish film on those apples is called bloom, it's a good charactoristic for IDing because it's not real common, except with McIntosh and it's progeny. They could be any one of several Macs, the harvest period is about right for; Early McIntosh, Melba Red, Milton (too soft)and Jerseymac (not round enough?) and I'm sure there are others. After comparing the pictures closely, and with you mentioning it's firmness, I thought it could be Paulared but it's supposed to keep until November. Red Astrachan is even earlier and are usually more striped here. I'm thinking Melba Red or Early McIntosh. Bring some to the show if you can, some times the taste will tell. Shaun

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Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:41 pm
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Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 8:12 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Zone 5, Maine
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Check out the picture of red astrachan on Brogdale. Quite close I would say. Bberry


Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:52 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Is there a genetic data bank for apples? Perhaps a lab that could give us an exact match.? And how much..?

Though I can't pronounce it... I, too noticed stripes on the Red Astrachan... have we at least narrowed it to 5 suspects? Better get a nice sized yard Blandoon! ...I'd go with the graft... I've found enough variation between 'named' varieties (or is that cultivars?), like old Gravensteins & new Gravensteins that if I ran across anything I really liked and definitely wanted -- I'd propagate a piece off the same tree to be sure. And if you're in no hurry - no problem. Heck, it might be kinda nostalgic knowing you've got one of its babies (or 3!)

But don't give up on the identifying ... just don't rely on it :wink:

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Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:31 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:54 am
Posts: 88
Location: Essex, England Zone 8
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Viron wrote:
Is there a genetic data bank for apples?


Not yet, the UK national fruit collections are studying the possibilities, they've already fingerprinted all of their cherry collection. It'll definitely happen in the not too distant future.


Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:14 am
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