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I'm learning more about apples.

Here's my dilemma: I can get about a dozen varieties from my usual supplier. Generally prairie hardy apples are not commercially viable due to their size.

Now in the garden catalog they use words like 'crisp' and 'good fresh' and 'good storage' but they only use 2 lines for each variety, and it reads like they have picked attributes at random. So for example, they will say, "fireblight resistant" for one. Does that mean all the other are susceptible? As it turns out, no.

Is there a website that compares apple qualities, preferably with hard numbers like brix, and pH and titratable acids?


Due to some of hte answers given, let me clarify:

I'm looking for comparison data. I don't want to know that it's sweet, I want to know that it's sweeter than X, or about as sweet as Y. or best Brix 15. I don't want to know that its 'good in storage' I want to know 'Stores for 5 months' at 40 F. Or 'Use it or lose it in 4 weeks' I don't want to know 'good for cooking' I want to know 'better for cooking than Z'

I want information that allows a person to decide, "September Ruby, or Dolgo" for eating. Battleford or Norland for making applesauce. McIntosh or Granny Smith for cider.

  • yeah, there isn't a comprehensive database like that for apples. Partly because even the levels in one variety can vary widely due to conditions. – J. Musser Dec 20 '14 at 21:16
  • Look: You're an acreage owner looking for an apple tree. The catalog descriptions typically are 40 words. How do you compare? "Sweet" is used on everything but crabapples. So is "crisp" I'm looking for a way that customers can compare objectively. – Sherwood Botsford Dec 20 '14 at 23:49
  • Ultimately I will have to build my own database, some by growing and measuring, some by sending out a questionaire asking people to compare multiple varieties that they know. Get enough people that say A is sweeter than B, and that B is sweeter than C, then I have a rough sweetness scale. If lots of people says that the texture of D is similar to McIntosh, that gives me a measure. – Sherwood Botsford Dec 20 '14 at 23:53
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This site from Washington State University offers a wealth of information about apples and their uses. You'll find a long list of apple varieties, including type descriptions and whether they're best used for long storage; eating; cooking, as in pies and applesauce; and cider. I don't know where you live, and some of these are regionalized to western United States, but I hope you find the information helpful.

According to The University of Saskatchewan, the September Ruby Apple is ripe at about 6.5 centimeters.

The skin is moderately thick, with a light green base, striped and blushed with bright to dark red, occasionally completely red. The flesh is greenish, crisp and moderately acid. It is very good for fresh eating, good for cooking and juicing, and stores well for up to 16 weeks.

This Odyssey Apple fact sheet from Jeffires Nurseries in Manitoba lists information including the origin, botanical name, tree growth habits, apple description, uses and taste.

It was originally discovered as a chance seedling in a population of ornamental crabapples.

The taste resembles a Royal Gala, and is

the sweetest fruit we have tasted from a prairie hardy Apple variety.

  • This is a start. But this lists only 48 variaties, and only s small amount of information on each. And none of the canadian prairie hardy varieties are listed. There are thousands of varieties of apples. My hope is that there is a central registry somewhere of apple varieties. – Sherwood Botsford Dec 5 '14 at 23:09
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Here are three apple books I would recommend for detailed info about different varieties:

You can find these and other fantastic books here.

You can also see if your public library carries them. And yes, your fruit tree catalog will specify if the tree is resistant to a particular disease and if that disease isn't mentioned, it usually means that it is not resistant.

Finally another website that may help is www.orangepippin.com.

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Sources of variatal information for apples.

Agricultural Research Services Germplasm Resources Information Network. This is the most comprehensive list I found -- and it still misses 50% of the varieties I was seeking information on. http://www.ars-grin.gov/

Big Horse Creek Farm Descriptions of about 300 varieties. http://bighorsecreekfarm.com/apple-varieties/

Meta information -- places to ask questions

NAFEX -- North American Fruit Explorers. They charge a membership fee for the website, but also have a facebook page. http://www.nafex.org/

The Orange Pippen (mentioned above) Has both a database, and a forum. http://www.orangepippin.com/

  • I'm leaving the question open for now until I get answers about Winter Cheeks, Prairie Magic, Odyssey, and September Ruby – Sherwood Botsford Dec 14 '14 at 22:15
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Prairie Magic: Was removed from my orchard due to vulnerability to fire blight.

September Ruby keeps for 8-10 weeks. Can be over productive, must be thinned to obtain size 6.5 cm average. FB rating of F5 but has recovered from an infection. annually productive if thinned. Very hardy. Flavour is moderately acid and good for dessert.

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