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Cold Climate Cultivar Study

Posted by Todd Parlo 
Cold Climate Cultivar Study
December 06, 2013 07:57PM
We are in the beginning stages of a full fledged cultivar study here at the farm, and are looking for some input. After getting close to 500 apple and pear varieties in the ground (old and young) we are beginning a more rigorous system of evaluation. Although the breadth of the study will depend on any outside help and funding, we will report what we discover on a yearly basis, here, on our own website and in press releases and through other organizations.

We are looking for more variety candidates for apple and pear varieties for cold humid climates, particularly those that lend themselves to organic management. These may not be strictly purported to be either in available literature, but should be somewhat close (we wouldn't bother with pink lady (cripps pink) for instance. This will be of interest to those who want to see what happens in an orchard other than theirs (dual testing), those who want to see it tested before planting themselves, and for those that just want to help with suggestions. Many of you stumble upon names when reading on the subject, and can help by simply widening the net.

S0, looking for ideas not funding. Scionwood if you want to send it.

Again, the study is for apple and pear varieties that may reasonably stand a chance of success in US zone 2-4, under organic management and under pressure from a high humidity climates. It will investigate tree health, pest and disease susceptibility.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
January 30, 2015 02:47AM
We are closing in on this project, which we will distribute by the end of Feb. I hope to get something up here, or if anyone would like a copy of the report, let me know.

Also, I would love to do some comparisons, contrasting different locales. (I know a terriorable idea...get it?) So, anyone who has some data they would like to share, send it on to me. (contact me for my list).

Perhaps this could also be a reminder that this site could be even more useful if folks were willing to share some stories starring their favorite and most hated cultivars. Experiences with different growers as regards varieties is pretty scant out there.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
January 31, 2015 08:45PM

I'd like to get a copy of your report when it becomes available (sdagger@blackfoot.net) with the thought that I might be able to contribute to your terroirable idea in the future as I begin to get more data from my experiences on my small orchard. At this point my main contribution to the cultivar discussion is the observation that fruit from a cultivar grown holistically does not respond to climatic conditions the same as a non-holistically grown fruit of the same cultivar. I can also confirm that it is critical to "tweak" your interpretation of your hardiness zone based on your specific microsite and regional weather extremes as has been discussed elsewhere in this forum. Perhaps the scantiness of varietal info is, at least in part, because it is a moving target...

Pommes de Terre Acres
USDA Zone 5 - Dixon, Montana
Intermountain West Region
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
February 01, 2015 12:47AM
Point well taken, Steve

In fact, one of the strengths both of doing this study, and having everyone contribute general experiences of varieties within this forum is the obvious variations in their particular kingdom, that terroir. What is available for information currently is little more than hardiness zone (with little support), and a few basic comments (from nearly all sources nurseries, universities and the like). Not always, but nearly so.

Now, here is an opportunity to mention those reading this forum with their morning coffee. Contributing to us all how your tree is doing is not at all influenced by your experience. So, folks that are new to this, or maybe a little shy can certainly be of value be letting us know how any particular plant is doing. "My Esopus Spitzenburg died for no apparent reason in a sheltered meadow in upstate NY " might be just as useful as 6 years of cropping reports. This is because open discourse would allow more growers to chime in, and that 4th report of Esopus biting it in a similar zone and conditions...well...would then constitute data.

Considering holistic, organic or sustainable influence on cultivar, conversation really is needed. I am sure we all agree the world is not brimming with information in that arena.

And orchardists love moving targets, don't we? Otherwise we'd all be growing beans and radishes.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/11/2022 02:01PM by The Michaels.
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
February 01, 2015 01:21AM
The full report can be viewed at the following link:


Anyone is free to download the info (following posts on our website allow for document and pdf downloads)

Any feedback, positive or negative is welcome, as long as it is not negative. We wound up with 498 apples and pears involved in some basic evaluations, 209 for bloom info, and 128 with fruit evaluations. I hope you all find something helpful.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/01/2015 02:54PM by Todd Parlo.
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
February 16, 2016 04:23AM
Todd, I am in Zone 4b here in windy south-central MN and am very interested in reading your report on cold hardy cultivars and their organic management. We are in the beginnings of building a new orchard on our farm site as well as into our 5th season restoring/managing an existing orchard. I was looking at your website to find this information but was unable to find the report? I found the summary, but nothing on the results. Was I missing something Todd? Any direction or help would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks Todd.

John Knisley
Zone 4b MN

P.S. If any one else has good information on cold hardy cultivars I would be grateful to look at it if possible.
Re: Cold Climate Cultivar Study
February 16, 2016 06:32PM
"Pome study tables and documents" is an active link on that first page. The following path :


is a list of recommended cultivars for grower in similar climates to ours. This does not mean they are the only varieties to try, just the ones that I feel hold the most promise or are less problematic.

There are 28 links showing data, etc.

I am happy to fill in folks with any insights on the cultivars. This may be an opportunity to put some posts in the variety section, which is looking a little scant at present.

Walden Heights Nursery & Orchard
Zone 3 in Vermont
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