Apple Trees are the All-American Fruit

Apples have a reputation for representing harmony. Just consider how common the sayings “in apple-pie order” and “don’t upset the apple cart” have become since they were popularized in 1796. And, the expression “As American as apple pie” means that something is approved of or normal.
Most of us think of freshly picked apples eaten out of hand, made into pies, cakes and tarts, juice, apple butter and sauce. Some varieties are better for each of those uses. 
Seventh generation orchardist and apple grower, Tom Burford, has spent his life among apples and apple trees in VA, where apples have been cultivated since the 1700s.
Tom Burford at Albermarle
In his new book, “Apples of North America” Burford says, “For 50 years I painfully watched the disappearance of the apple culture and the emergence of so-called beautiful apples, a source of malnourishment that even posed a consumption risk from chemical contamination.”
In response to the reduction of apple varieties available, the North American Fruit Explorers started teaching classes about lesser-known apple varieties and grafting. In the process they searched for and restored flavorful apples to gardens and markets.
OK State University Fact Sheet HLA 6210 ( recommends only the varieties Burford considers flavorless including Gala, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious.

From page 17 through page 209 of “Apples of North America”, almost 200 apple varieties are illustrated and described in detail, beginning with American Beauty and ending with York. One variety per page, the fruit’s original and other names are listed so you can shop for the trees or fruit. Each one’s history, tree and fruit description, disease resistance, pest vulnerability, season of ripening, uses and storage quality is provided.
Part two of the book is an orchard primer with tips for location, layout, planting site preparation, variety selection, rootstock, nursery stock, and how to taste an apple. The next section on planting and cultural management will give you the tips you need to succeed with pruning, watering, feeding, care for mature trees, rejuvenating neglected trees, diseases and pests.
He suggests that you plant summer-fruiting varieties such as Early Harvest and Pristine for applesauce. If your goal is winter storage plant winter-ripening varieties. If you are concerned about frost, plant late-blooming varieties that can be planted at the bottom of a hill where cold accumulates.
One popular apple in our area is Arkansas Black which is listed as having excellent storage life, and as being good for dessert, pie, frying, apple butter and cider. It is susceptible to apple scab and fireblight but less susceptible to codling moth damage. It is pollinated with Ben Davis, Winter Banana, Yates, Grimes Golden, Red or Golden Delicious and crabapples.
Cannon Pearmain trees were planted at Tomas Jefferson’s summer home. Its other names include Alpain, Anderson, and Cannon. Pearmain is resistant to major diseases and the fruit stores well.
Goldrush was developed at Purdue University. The fruit ripens in the fall, is very resistant to apple scab and stores well.
One of our 2013 apple trees
Hoople’s Antique Gold is a russet apple that mutated from a Golden Delicious apple. It has intense flavor, resists diseases, ripens in the fall, and stores well.
To control tree size and to understand the care your apple trees will require, purchase the correct rootstock.

For example Malling 27 and 9 are susceptible to fireblight and suckering. Geneva 30 resists fireblight and collar rot but it will snap in high winds unless staked. Rootstock Malling-Merton 111 is reliable and resistant to apple aphids.
Burford ‘s favorite apple is the last one he ate. Reading his “Apples of North America: 192 Exceptional Varieties for Gardeners, Growers, and Cooks” will make you want to plant trees. Available from Timber Press at



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