Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pettingill Apple Review- Bad news

I always have great hopes for the different trees I plant. It is a commitment of time, money, space and energy (not to mention water and fertilizer). And, if you make a bad choice, you have to start over and wait for the new choice to see if it is better.
SO, I researched the low chill apple trees. I read reviews and advertisements and planting guides. And the first apple tree I planted was the Golden Dorsett. This tree is incredible for the coastal San Diego area. It fruits 2 or 3 times a year. It has large abundant crops. It is ready June 1 but keeps on the tree for a whole month. Then there is another crop for Thanksgiving and it blooms again (but I don't let that one fruit because we both need a rest).
The only draw back for the Golden Dorsett is that it turns to sauce when cooked. It doesn't have any structure left- so it doesn't really work for Pie.
I was hoping that the second apple tree- the Pettingill- would be the fall pie apple for me
The Pettingill was advertised as a coastal low chill apple. The fruit would be ready in Late summer to early fall. It is redish with some green in the skin, shaped like a Granny Smith.
OK- now for the reality. The tree grew like crazy- long straight branches, no fruit spikes or buds. I pruned heavily. More growth, late dormancy, long dormancy, wouldn't bloom for 3 years. Finally, it bloomed and set 1, that's right just one, apple. It fell off in August- sour as can be. This year it bloomed well, for a long time and set about 12 fruits. One fell off in early August. The others grew large and turned very red. So, at the end of August - first week of September really, I pick 4 to make a "test Pie".
The "test pie" was very sour even with lots of sugar- it was almost too sour to get down- we tossed 1/2 the pie. And to make it worse, NO TEXTURE. Again we had a sauce apple. Not juicy either. We waited on the other apples to see if we had just been too early.
Late September, I picked one very large, very red apple. It was light so I was certain there was little sugar or water. And I was right. It was too sour to eat. I sliced it thinly and nibbled a few bites, but it just couldn't be eaten raw. I tossed it.
Now it is October and there is one apple left to taste. But I already know the answer for this tree- Applewood smoked bacon and sausage. I am not talking about turkey stuffing, I am talking about killing a tree. For me, this is one of the hardest things I can do. I have 5 years invested in this tree and it is a complete disappointment.
SO- this is my review. This Pettingill Apple tree is not what it is claimed to be. It has a higher chill factor than is listed in the advertisements. It flowers irregularly, sparsely and sets very little fruit in the San Diego Coastal climate. The fruit it does make is not edible. On the good side, it makes excellent long straight branches for wands and kindling. There is abundant wood for applewood smoking of smoked meats and fish. The leaves are glossy and large and the birds don't want the fruit either.
I recommend saving your money for something better and passing on this tree. It isn't even good as a pollinator for other trees.
Ok. There I have said it. Now, where is the chainsaw? I have a job to do.