Hunter: The Apple Crop
12/02/10 5:55PM By Edith Hunter  Download MP3
(HOST) For many growers, early heat last spring was followed by a heavy freeze that seriously damaged the apple crop. But according to commentator Edith Hunter, at her home in Weathersfield Center it was a great year for apples.
(HUNTER) A Yellow Transparent apple tree was growing here when Aunt Margaret and Aunt Mary bought this place in 1941.
Beginning in mid-July, Aunt Margaret made wonderful applesauce from the Yellow Transparents. But the old tree died shortly before her own death in the spring of 1969. Aunt Mary purchased a replacement tree in Aunt Margaret's memory.
Soon after we moved to Weathersfield in 1969, my husband gave me "The Apples of New York", by Beach, Booth and Taylor, published in 1905. About the Yellow Transparent they wrote: "This tree was imported from Russia by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1870. Its merits were first brought to notice in this country by Dr. T. H. Hoskins of Newport, Vermont... It is one of the best of extra early apples."
As this tree finished producing in early August, the old St. Lawrence that was here when the Aunts bought the farm, began dropping ripe apples. We were soon making our first cider. The St. Lawrence originated in Lower Canada but by 1848 was being cultivated in New York State. The skin is pale yellow with bright red stripes. It is supposed to ripen in mid-September and October. This year the crop, which does not keep well, was mostly off the tree by September 10th.
The two tall McIntosh trees bore heavily this year. Originating on the McIntosh homestead in Ontario this apple was being marketed by 1870. Supposed to ripen in late September ours were dropping by the first week in September.
When Aunt Mary died in 1975 we planted a Northern Spy in her memory. This variety may have originated as early as 1800 in East Bloomfield, New York. "A large, bright red apple with a background of yellow, it is a great keeping apple, ready for use in November." Ours were ripe by late September.
And finally, there are our two, ancient, Rhode Island Greenings. The one by the pond is split four ways, and all four branches bear apples. This variety dates back to the early 1700s to a Mr. Green's Inn near Newport Rhode Island. The apple, greenish yellow, is usually ready in late October but was earlier this year. It is often found in the very oldest orchards.
Did the Rev. James Converse, described as an early pomologist, who lived here from 1802-1839, plant this tree? I like to think he did.