Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Honeycrisp Apples

In 2011, I convinced my mom to finally plant an apple tree.

The tree she selected was a Honeycrisp tree from Bylands.

Combination Apple Tree:

To be accurate, it wasn't entirely a Honeycrisp tree. It was a Combination Apple (5 in 1),  containing multiple grafts from other types of apple trees. Multiple grafts, because apple trees require cross pollination. That is, they need pollen from a different type of apple tree, to make the pollination process work.

As explained here, two trees of the same variety will not pollinate each other. From mom's house, there are no apple trees in the neighborhood, so the combination apple tree was a great solution and innovation. 

Interestingly, if you were to take the seed from your favorite apple, and plant it, when it finally would produce fruit, the resulting apples would actually be a cross between your favorite apple, and the other apple variety that pollinated it.

HoneyCrisp Advantages:

Non GMO:

Honeycrisp apple trees were developed at the University Of Minnesota as a hybrid of some other apple cultivars. They were developed using cross pollination, so they are NOT genetically modified.  Great!

HoneyCrisp Grow In Really Cold Climates:

One really "cool" thing about Honeycrisp, is that they will grow in really cold climates. My mom lives in Winnipeg, Canada, nicknamed, "Winterpeg". Cold days in the winter can reach -30 degrees celcius, or about -22 degrees Fahrenheit, or even colder.  (If you're ever stuck doing mental conversions, just remember that -40 celcius equals -40 Fahrenheit).  Winnipeg is a Zone 3 growing zone, where the coldest temperature is listed as -34 to -40 celcius.

If a winter is too harsh, some plants simply won't grow in that climate. Honeycrisp can handle it.

However, even if the tree grows in the climate ok, if the weather suddenly freezes after the spring flowers have bloomed, the freezing can kill the flowers, and therefore the fruit for the season. Wrap the tree in a blanket before it freezes.

Big Apples:

Honeycrisp apples can grow really big.

As you can see in this picture, the diameter of some of the largest is 3 to 3 1/2 inches!  Perhaps NYC should adopt the HoneyCrisp as its official apple.

Great Taste:

The Honeycrisp taste great. I'd compare them to the taste and texture of Red Delicious apples. 

Great Harvest:

The tree was bought and transplanted in 2011, and now, 5 years later, the tallest branches are about 9 feet from the ground. Although, the tallest branches, reaching straight up, did not have any fruit on them. Most all the fruit was within 7 feet from the ground.  It was a great harvest, producing 4 buckets the first time the apples were picked. However, there were still some apples ripening in the shade of the leaves, and a week later, another bucket was harvested.

To be fair, the first few years did not always give good harvests. I'm told that sometimes, the tree just concentrates on growing, not making fruit. One year, there was no fruit at all, attributed to either a really cold winter and spring, and/or a really cold snap after the tree flowered.

Fruit Keeps For a Long Time:

The Honeycrisp apples last a long time after they are picked off the tree. You can even wrap up each apple in newspaper, and store them in the basement for over a month at basement temperature, and they will still be good. Although, they will have started to soften a little bit by then.

This is good, because we really like to eat them!

In retrospect, my mom is really happy to have the apple tree now, and wishes that she had planted it a long time ago.

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