Archive for May, 2009

Has anyone had any experience establishing a cherry orchard? Where would one go for advice on rootstock, varieties, suitable regions, tree suppliers, polytunnel suppliers etc.

Would permissions be needed to establish orchards on farm land? Are there any restrictions? Restrictions on putting up polytunnels?

Stewart Duke

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Summer Sun cherry trees are frequently marketed as self-fertile and thus will crop without a pollinator. Some years ago East Malling Research Centre conducted a genetic analysis on the Cherry Collection growing at Brogdale and found the absence of the gene responsible for self-fertility in Summer Sun, thus taking it off the list of self-fertile varieties. I grow this variety and it is a good one, cropping well with good tasting fruit, but unfortunately it is one of a row of 12 different varieties, so I cannot confirm from experience that it is indeed self-fertile. Does any reader grow this in complete isolation from other cherry trees and thus confirm that it indeed crops well?

Howard Stringer

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My problem has been ANTS  – the little tiny kind – that crawl up and eat ridges around the ripening cherries! I have heard that the herb pennyroyal planted around the base may help; or using borax there at fruiting time; or soft soap sprays.

Can anyone help me plan for the eventual battle?

G.L. Foskett

See an earlier post: ‘How do I protect my Fruit Trees from Ants?’

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Pear leaf blister mite

Pear leaf blister mite on leaves and fruitlets

No significant air frosts during April means a reasonable plum crop could be in prospect. Certainly the blossom has not been killed off and temperatures were considerably higher than 2008, although we had to wait several weeks for a continued six days of sunshine which could be critical as regards fruit set. Cherry blossom was profuse and the heady scent of Hertford wafted across the path as I walked to and fro; some of its fruit is now as big as large peas. Meanwhile the pears are taking a bit of a hammering. Pear leaf blister mite has made a mess of the new velvety foliage and also attacked blossom and fruitlets. There is also considerable infection of the fruitlets by pear midge. After three years of picking off the infected fruitlets before they turned black I was hoping for a respite, but not so;  there is more than usual and this after a very poor fruit set last year. I may have to revert to chemicals.

I am finding some mildew in my orchard, due to over wintered spores and infection has been made worse by a dry spring. The most affected apples are Cowngold, which is a martyr to everything going, A. W. Barnes and Limelight in that order. I normally break off the affected leaf truss and dispose of it away from the orchard.

Fruit in the poly-tunnel fruit was also unaffected by frost and cordon trained Tomcot apricots have a bumper crop set which has broken small branches; I have already thinned. Cherries, Earlise (Delbard) and Summer Sun have an excellent fruit  set, particularly Earlise, which has not been impressive in the past. Fruit set on the peaches is perhaps slightly down on previous years, possibly due to my less energetic activity with the rabbit’s tail this year at pollination time.

All in all fingers crossed  for a bumper crop this year. Bumble bees were seen in February and by April bees of various colours and sizes were common. At the end of the month Mason bees were squabbling over a 12 mm by 32 mm deep hole in the front of the garden store. A week later still disagreement, but no home building and obviously not a ‘Des – Res’!

Adrian Baggaley

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Apple Cosies

Apple Cosie

Apple Cosie

An apple cosie – isn’t this the cutest thing ever? Knitted jackets for apples to protect them in your lunch box and seemingly part of a marketing campaign in Italy to encourage apple sales by local growers.

The cosie  in the picture was knitted by an Italian friend from instructions in a magazine and the apple is an Ashmead’s Kernel, still sound on 4 May!

Perhaps there is an Italian reader who has first hand experience of this  cosie knitting campaign?

Joan Morgan

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Pear Blossom of Belle Julie

Pear Blossom of Belle Julie

A recent ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the Independent noted that the English have a special word for the flowers of fruit trees: ‘blossom’. Yet the Japanese who place great importance on blossom in art and poetry do not have have a single word for ‘blossom’ – instead saying, for example, ‘the flowers of the plum tree’. Similarly in French arbres en fleurs and there is no equivalent word, term or usage for blossom in Italian.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has ‘blossom’ derived from Middle English ‘blosme’, from Old English ‘blöstom’, akin to Old English ‘blöwan’ and in use before the 12th century. I imagine that it is connected with our Anglo Saxon forebears, who showed considerable interest, like the Celts, in woods, trees and hedges. Did they too have an aesthetic appreciation of the beauty of fruit blossom? Can any linguist throw more light on this fascinating question?

Ian Harrison

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There was been some correspondence a while ago about the origin of the apple Suffolk Pink, and we think it would be a good idea to have some input from the discoverer, Dan Neuteboom, and to this we are adding information about an earlier Neuteboom discovery, Winter Wonder.

These two varieties were first recognized at Dan’s Braiseworth orchards on High Suffolk clay near Eye.

In many respects the confusion over the origin that has been created by the various statements and reports about Suffolk Pink reflects many of the problems of identifying any variety’s historic or genetic origin and the sequences that lead to its discovery and subsequent propagation.  It suggests we need to be careful when the originator is around to tell us the facts … and when DNA typing is available and waiting in the wings to correct us all … eventually.

Suffolk Pink: this dessert apple has an unusual pale translucent lemon-and-pink complexion somewhat reminiscent of the early summer apple White Transparent, and something of that variety’ sharp freshness, but is a keeper with a faintly Gala-like flavour, suggesting to several observers that it is a Gala sport or relative, but it may turn out to be unique. It seems to be different from Gala in several ways, notably its very downy, blue-green sepals. Its real origin is not known: what is known is as follows.

Some time in the early 1980s Dan noticed a tree in his orchard that was different from the rest of the row, which were mixed Discovery and Worcester Pearmain. The original plants had been supplied from Jack Matthews nursery at Thurston in Suffolk in the 1970s, but it is not now possible to sure whether they were propagated at Thurston, or bought in for resale to Dan.  It was sometime before the fruit quality was noticed and when it was Dan went back to Jack to find out what it was; Jack didn’t know either, thought it was unique, and as he had had such success with Discovery which he acquired from its discoverer in Essex, suggested that Dan try his hand at promoting it. It had no name at this time.

In the 1980s and 1990s Dan propagated trial plantings, by grafting and budding in his own orchards, and showed the fruit to a buyer at a supermarket which took them on, promoting them under the name Suffolk Pink, a decision made by the supermarket. Who thought the name up is now lost, probably a supermarket salesman. The name is not registered and nor are Plant Breeders Rights.

Suffolk Pink was planted by Dan elsewhere in Suffolk, at Helmingstone and Stonham Aspall, on his outlying orchards, and subsequently these orchards were sold on:  Hemingstone in 2000, with established plantings that the buyers benefited from, hence the spread of the variety to other suppliers and outlets, and the probable source of the various alternative histories that have arisen from these later plantings.

Winter Wonder: this was a sport of  Suntan, which can produce fruit that is too large or too variable in size for sized sales. Winter Wonder is more densely spurred, produces more uniform sized and less irregular crops – and as a fan of both  Suntan and Winter Wonder Paul thinks he can detect a difference in taste. Dan found the tree in his Braiseworth orchard in the late 1970s in a Suntan planting, and propagated and promoted it. The name is Dan’s registered trademark.  Today it is sold by Waitrose and at farmer’s markets.

Dan’s Braiseworth orchard is now run by his daughter, Kathy Neuteboom, and her partner Jeremy Linsell.

Dan Neuteboom and Paul Read

Winter:Read IMG_8330

Winter Wonder, on 19 April, just out of cold store, in perfect condition and a fine colour. Notice the very reflex downy sepals, and a slightly smoother, flatter apex/basin than Suntan (and Paul thinks it is finer texture and considerably more juicy).

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Through my research I am also looking at the future of heritage apples from a market angle. One of these is promoting the nutritional value of the fruit.

Somewhere in the information I have read I have come across reference to an apple called Pendragon that is being hailed as a superfood due to its particular phytochemicals.

I cannot find the reference, does anyone know of this, and/or have any further information on the subject of health benefits of apples?

Barbara Tremain-Howard

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I listened with interest to the BBC Food Programme yesterday, Sunday 3 May, that again explored Brogdale in Kent, home of the National Fruit Collections. In essence the BBC was updating the story of the National Fruit Collections covered by the programme in the early 1990s and in 2007. I was pleased to hear that the position at Brogdale is significantly better than in 2007, but as the presenter Shelia Dillon pointed out the future for the Collections is still uncertain since the National Fruit Collections contract is due for renewal within the next 5 years. I would urge anyone interested in fruit or the Brogdale story to form their own view by either listening to Radio 4 today, Monday 4 May, at 16.00 when the programme is re-broadcast or to use the internet listen again facility .  I can only reiterate the view expressed on the programme that in order to ensure the future of the Collections people join the Friends of the National Fruit Collections at Brogdale.

Robert White

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