Cider aspects in a cultivar study
April 05, 2015 11:45AM
To facilitate some fine tuning as regards varieties, perhaps it would be fun to have a discussion in the cider circle on how varieties are stacking up around our network's orchards.

Perhaps our study can be a starting point for the discussion, that a few of us have begun to engage in.

The general study can be viewed at :
https://waldenheightsnursery.com/evaluation-of-apple-and-pear-varieties-for-cold-humid-climates-under-certified-organic-management-2

...the second link is where the meat is, a pile of pdfs that include "fruit evaluation", as well as brix and pH measurements. Other pdfs and narratives have include tree particulars and other tidbits.


waldenheightsnursery.com/evaluation-of-apple-and-pear-varieties-for-cold-humid-climates-under-certified-organic-management-2



The hope is that everyone will have some experiences to share, things that line up with this data, and things that contradict. You know, dialogue.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cultivar Study
April 01, 2015 08:34PM
Todd, this is really huge!

Are you going to continue this and accumulate data over the years?

I see you have there my 3 cider varieties (Banane amère, Bilodeau and Douce de Charlevoix) in table 1, but not in the other tables - I would assume this is because they haven't started to fruit yet. I will be very interested to have your comments once they start fruiting. In any case, I am happy to see they didn't suffer winter cold damage.

One data I see there I find suspect is the pH for Yarlington Mill - this is a very low acidity variety, and a pH of 3.2 seems very unlikely to me. A more likely value would be around 3.8. I suspect you have either a tagging error for the variety, or maybe some manipulation error on the measurement of that particular juice sample. You have same pH for Transparent just below - could you have made a transcription error?

For my part, I do find such work really useful - and I appreciate you take the time for sugar and acid measurement.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Cultivar Study
April 02, 2015 08:36AM
Yes, Claude, the intention is to continue the study as best we can. This will likely take the form of fruit evaluation, and as far as the actual trees are concerned, cold damage, mortality and yield. Some of the physical attributes like growth rate, form, etc I will record more or less depending on the workload here.

As for Yarlington Mill, and for that matter, any fruit evaluated here, I tried hard to keep my brain completely out of it when recording. What I mean by that is to act like a grad student writing down numbers. Yarlington Mill is one, but there are others that made me pause, (see Malinda, seemingly ripe and tasty but scored a whopping 8 brix, which I did double-check), but record it I did, nonetheless. Honeycrisp, which averaged out at over 14, had some good tasting samples that measured 10 or less brix.

I am prepared for a whole lot of feedback on confirmations and contradiction on everything, not just the fruit measurements. Growers are going to see similarities and differences in the data, and hopefully we will all have a discussion and shake things out. On our end, and in other orchards we are going to find : identity errors (either in purchase or tagging), harvest maturity differences (suspect in the Yarlingon Mill case, since the appearance of the fruit lined up ), soil and tree management, growing region, and even micoclimates (even within the same orchard).

A lot of the data involved some averaging, not just with fruit bios but with physical characteristics as well. There were dramatic differences sometimes, with growth rate and cold damage. With some of these particulars the results were so erratic, I just tossed the data. With the fruit evaluations I left it in.

What I noticed with fruit for instance was that there were sometimes large differences in the readings from different trees in different locations, of different age, at different peaks in ripening, and in the length of time off that tree. These were all more surprising than I had anticipated, and I hope to investigate this further, since regarding cider making, these controls can alter the fruit characteristics hugely. Storage for instance seemed to change varieties into something entirely different. As for accuracy, I aim to use starch tests to set a base for testing next year.

Thanks for the comments. This is exactly the kind of thing we need in this forum, for growers to describe their experiences and understandings, especially when there are discrepancies. I put myself in a vulnerable position by throwing all this out there for rebuttal, and I am looking forward to it.

If every one of us commented on their experiences with 5 varieties, then we would really have something happening in this form, wouldn't we? The Kingston Black discussion is a case in point.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cultivar Study
April 02, 2015 10:35AM
Todd Parlo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As for Yarlington Mill, and for that matter, any
> fruit evaluated here, I tried hard to keep my
> brain completely out of it when recording. What I
> mean by that is to act like a grad student writing
> down numbers. Yarlington Mill is one, but there
> are others that made me pause, (see Malinda,
> seemingly ripe and tasty but scored a whopping 8
> brix, which I did double-check), but record it I
> did, nonetheless. Honeycrisp, which averaged out
> at over 14, had some good tasting samples that
> measured 10 or less brix.

Yes I had also noticed a few other surprising data. For example Melba at pH 3.82... And this Okolo pear at 21 Bx! what is this pear like? Never heard of it before.
Thinking about this, Todd, I would think this variability could be in part caused by sample size. If you measure Brix with a refractometer, you only need a couple of drops of juice, which you take from a simgle apple. Same with pH probably (although you need a bit more than a couple of drops). For my part, when I measure this sort of data, I get a lot less variability, because since I make cider, I press the whole production from a tree, then measure the SG and TA of the juice, which is then automatically avereaged.

Taking for example Honeycrisp, I have 6 samples tested from 2006 to 2013, SG varied from 1.045 to 1.050 (i.e. 11.2 to 12.4 Bx), and TA from 6.0 to 6.7 g/L malic acid (appx pH 3.48 to 3.52).
Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
Re: Cultivar Study
April 02, 2015 11:26AM
For sampling I took 5 fruits, which looked as average individuals, from up to 5 different trees (occasionally a single tree). I then juiced the entirety, skin to core in a juicer. I think a sampling of a good deal more fruits makes perfect sense. It also bears out how off the mark single tests using just a bit of the outer flesh ( the hypanthium) can be. I also think crosschecking data from the refractometer (which is what I used, being careful to observe temperature and contamination), with a hydrometer. It would be good to nail this all down because ultimately what could be interesting is to see how some of the nuances can express themselves in different growing areas and under different management schemes. I imagine that an oversized honeycrisp for example pumped up with water and nitrogen in a tree excessively thinned is going to give a far different reading than in a less managed standard tree with 2 1/2 rich tasting fruits. That said, keeping the methodology tidy is pretty important.

The Okolo pear. We grafted a few Asians that were advertised as cold hardy. This selection of pyrifolia is out of S. Dakota. I fully expected all the Asians we tried, including Illinka, Hosui, and a few others to die straight out of the box. But, they seem to generally fair well...so far. The Hosui's died pretty quickly. The Okolo is a very nice pear, typical asian crunchiness. A lot of Asians also have a hint of tannic bitterness that is a very nice adjunct to the sweetness. I hear it suffers from pear scab, but our fruit was clean. These are really an experiment, like most pears in our orchard, they may not stand the long term weather issues. Yeah, 21... my grapes usually don't even get there.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cultivar Study
April 04, 2015 01:55PM
Hey Todd,
Great report! Last year I ran into some of the same challenges you did when getting brix numbers. I am still getting numbers throughout the season but that is just to see if over the long run I can start to see patterns. Do you have a preference as to what numbers would be most consistent I.E. preharvest vs. postharvest+X-amount of days? I see you used 5 apples in your sample size, I used 20 apples in my sample size and still had as much variation so I am not sure how to get consistency other than everyone using the exact same procedure for collection and sampling. Thanks for the great work

Jeb Thurow
Zone 7 Wa



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/04/2015 01:56PM by Jeb Thurow.
Re: Cultivar Study
April 05, 2015 11:21AM
I think there are a couple of things we will all have to wrestle with here, and it applies to a lot of avenues if this forum is going to get serious about trading some good sciency stuff.

First off, our threshold for good scientific protocol. The sample size I chose seemed fair, and I did make efforts to choose fruits that seemed average, from many trees where possible, etc. But, the sample size as ideal, no way. The ideal sample size would be simply as many as possible. Like Claude rightly alludes to, a good measurement of liquid would be a sampling from a whole pressing. Part of my option was practicality. I sampled 128 different varieties (and a bunch of others for myself), so using 20 or 30 would have exceeded the time I had to pull this all together. That, however is not as high quality as it could have been. And that certainly is not getting into the whole terroir discussion or the comparisons with other orchards.

Secondly, the when. The oft used ripe test is a potasium iodine mixture appliedto the cut flesh. This is checked against a chart, but the charts are cultivar specific. Charts have not been developed for all vartieties, in fact there are relatively few. Furthermore, the harvest/ripe date is use dependent, that is in most cases it depends on the market plan for the apple (varieties are often picked earlier for longer term storage, and thus the starch template will be different). Even our homesteader will see a variation in those harvest dates. For instance I wouldn't even consider eating a yellow yellow transparent or Lodi, unless I really did want a mouthful of pus. A green one is heavenly. Any brown seed evaluation is meaningless in a lot of early varieties. But what would a starch test show? So when do we test, when it is prime for eating? Cider is a whole different discussion, maybe simply waiting for brix to maximize, perhaps two months in storage, maybe after sweating? But, wait, maybe not, because acid levels shift to a higher pH post harvest (on most varieties). So, it gets complicated. Not insurmountable, just complicated.

I tried to choose a date I wanted to eat or utilize that apple, straight and simple. There is a moment in a haralson, just after the flesh toughness leaves but still has a tart zing to it. Mantets for me means past the crisp stage, when the berry flavor comes alive and a sorbet fleshiness presents itself. If a Sweet Sixteen is picked early to get some more shelf life out of it, it never get to the cherry popsicle stage.

Human being are built to love the extremes, maybe because it is often easier. What is the maximum size we could get a Wolf River, or a Wedge? Highest brix from a grape? These persuits seem like more fun, and are usually easier. Now, deciding what is the total antioxidant content of a perfectly ripened Summer Pearmain for most delightful eating (and probably marketing), well that is a whole lot harder to nail down. Numbers and statistics are supposed to make the whole business easier, but it often comes down to a nuance or human interpretation that can cloud the whole business.

Anyway, it'll be a fun ride.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cider aspects in a cultivar study
April 05, 2015 12:40PM
Quote
Todd
I tried to choose a date I wanted to eat or utilize that apple, straight and simple. There is a moment in a haralson, just after the flesh toughness leaves but still has a tart zing to it. Mantets for me means past the crisp stage, when the berry flavor comes alive and a sorbet fleshiness presents itself. If a Sweet Sixteen is picked early to get some more shelf life out of it, it never get to the cherry popsicle stage.

Todd, we may question how important it is to have sugar and acid measurements for non-cider apples. These really start making sense if one wishes to use it in a cider blend. Hence, for early apples which will never be used for cider (transparent, astrachan, and others), this is not as meaningful I think. For the others, when would be the best timing for taking the measure?

We can usually distinguish 3 periods of maturity:
1- Harvest/picking maturity - this is when we pick the apples in the tree, they are not ripe then.
2- Natural fall maturity - this is when about half of the apples will have fallen to the ground. Still firm, but starting to be ripe (depending on variety).
3- Pressing maturity - after sweating, ready for the press. Normally has started to soften.

To be meaningful for cider making, measurements should be taken between stage 2 and 3. From my experience, sugar won't change much between 2 and 3, but acidity may reduce a bit. Pectins will also change, but you don't measure this...

For my part, I have pressing notes for about 120 varieties of apples, and 15 pears... And I have between 1 and over 50 samples tested from each variety, for a total of 736 entries in that database file that started in 1992. One day when I have the time, I should make a nice spreadsheet for all those. Some of the data is in my book, but there is a lot more for which there was no place in the book! I have for each:
- date harvested and date pressed
- kg of apples pressed
- liters of juice obtained
- SG
- TA
- Yield in % (calculated from above data)
- which pressing equipment I used
- plus some tasting notes.

Claude

Jolicoeur Orchard
Zone 4 in Quebec
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