Sunday, September 19, 2010

Prima's Progress

We've been following the progress of the Prima apples this year. The vanguard became fully ripe last week, the seeds turning blackish brown, the taste not too tart but as it should be, the texture no longer crisp but softening. Prima is an early apple, but early here means mid-September, not late August as elsewhere. Various storms have blown some of the apples down, including ones I photographed earlier, so now I can't show the same apple as it progressed to ripeness. Others will have to do.

The rains continued through July, coming frequently enough so that there never was a drought. The apples grew well. Here is a Prima as of August 1. It has attained a good size, although it's not quite full size yet. It is still very green and unripe, though. These Prima apples are immune to scab, and this one looks as if nothing else has harmed it either. Sometimes the coddling moth is attracted to them, and sometimes other apple pests break through the fruit also; but this one looks good so far. I could spray pesticides, and at one time I used to spray the organic kind of pesticide; but it turns out that most of the Prima apples are perfectly fine, like this one, without any kind of spray at all. The Prima is one of the original scab-free varieties developed at the New York State experimental agricultural station in the 1970s. The best, and best-known, of these original varieties is Liberty; and I have a Liberty tree as well. But the Prima tree has done quite well and the apples it produces have many good qualities, although they don't store very long.

Here is a photo of a Prima apple two weeks later, as it was beginning to ripen. This is not the same apple as pictured above, but it is representative of the Prima at this stage, about a month before becoming fully ripe. Again, there is no damage from scab or insects to the apple, although much insect damage can be seen on the leaf to the left of the fruit. This particular tree needs to be pruned and if I have time to do so this winter, I will. They say you should be able to throw a bushel basket between the branches of an apple tree if it's pruned properly. 

Now here is a picture of two Primas fully ripe, taken on September 18th. The tree is filled with apples in various stages of ripeness--on account of too much leaf cover from branches that are too close together, several of the apples are not yet ripe. But these are. The apples will stay on the Prima tree nearly until mid-October, but some will start to turn over-ripe and soft, whether remaining on the tree or even in cool storage, although the cool will delay the softening some. We intend to pick a few bushels and make sauce and apple butter, and of course to eat them. But other, later varieties, including Liberty, will store longer; these are not yet ripe but they will be shortly. In all, it was an average to better-than-average year for the apples here. Some of the trees that came only gradually into bearing, like the Golden Russet and the Baldwin that I planted twenty years ago, are now bearing more abundantly. Patience is a virtue here as elsewhere.


  1. Dr. Titon,
    Could I have your permission to use a photograph of your red apples for a painting. I am a painter living in Memphis, Tennessee.
    Thank you for your time.
    Beth Edwards

  2. Yes, you are welcome to use one of my photographs for a painting of yours. Thank you for asking. Best wishes, Jeff