APPLE CULTIVAR EVALUATION
in cooperation with the
NE-183 REGIONAL PROJECT
Multidisciplinary Evaluation of New Apple Cultivars
Performance of Several Apple Cultivars Grown in The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
Stephen Miller1, Gary Lightner1, Alan Biggs2, and Henry Hogmire2
Interest in new apple cultivars has increased among fruit growers and consumers during the last decade. Selecting the right cultivar to plant is one of the most important decisions for a grower. To make this decision, growers need reliable performance data developed from replicated trials. Consumers are interested in a more diverse selection of high quality apples and are seeking information on apple flavor and keeping quality.
Until recently, systematic evaluation of new apple cultivars was limited. Performance of new varieties and selections often depended on the plant breeder and a few test sites or observations by growers and/or nursery personnel in the field. A regional project (NE-183) was initiated in 1994, involving 26 cooperators located in 18 states and two Canadian provinces, to systematically evaluate the performance of new apple cultivars in replicated trials under a wide range of climatic and edaphic conditions. The Appalachian Fruit Research Station (AFRS), as a cooperator in this project, has two plantings, one dedicated to horticultural evaluations and one for use in evaluating pest susceptibility. Cooperators from the West Virginia University Kearneysville Tree Fruit Research and Education Center provide expertise in pathology and entomology to the local study.
Twenty-three cultivars on M.9 337 rootstock were planted in 1995 with five trees of each cultivar (bud failures in the nursery reduced the number of some cultivars to fewer than 5 trees). Trees were planted in replicated plots in north-south oriented rows and initially trained to the central leader form. Minimal pruning was employed after year one. All bloom was removed in the first season (1995). In 1996, only a limited number of fruit was allowed to remain on the tree, if present. Trees were allowed to fruit beginning in the third (1997) season and thereafter. Crop load was adjusted by hand to space fruit about 15 cm apart. Commercial recommendations were followed for all cultural practices.
It should be emphasized that growing conditions (weather, soil, etc.) affect the performance, appearance, and quality of apples. This report describes performance and characteristics exhibited by apple cultivars grown at Kearneysville, WV. The same cultivar grown in another area may respond differently. Opinions regarding specific cultivars, as described here, are subject to change as experience is gained and new information is developed. Horticultural, disease, and fruit quality information in this publication is based on 3 to 5 years data; information on insect susceptibility represents data collected during the 2000 season only.
1 Research Horticulturist and Computer Specialist, respectively, USDA-ARS, AFRS, Kearneysville, WV. The authors are grateful for the technical contributions of V. Larry Crim, AFRS, in this work, graphics assistance of Leon Bowers, AFRS, and suggestions of Jane Miller, WV Horticultural Society.
2 Professor and Plant Pathologist and Professor and Entomologist, West Virginia University Tree Fruit Research and Education Center, Kearneysville, WV, respectively.