[NAFEX] Astrakan apple
dwoodard at becon.org
Thu Feb 5 15:32:05 EST 2009
My direct knowledge of Red Astrachan is limited to having eaten some
which I bought in Belleville (Agriculture Canada zone 5b, just north of
Lake Ontario) farmers' market around 1980, I think about the second or
third week in August. The ones I bought were fairly bright darkish red
I thought it was very tasty, not in the Cox Orange or even Jonagold
class but markedly better than the average supermarket apple. Just a
little on the tart side, texture somewhat low density and tender. I
gather from what I have heard that it does not remain at its best for
long. I have read that in the old days when locally grown summer apples
were in demand, it was a popular commercial apple. North American
writers between and just after the world wars (e.g. Hedrick of the
Geneva NY station, and I. B. Lucas of Markdale, Ontario, zone 5a) seem
to consider it as perhaps the best of the well known apples of its
season. I expect that a good deal would depend on tree nutrition, season
(sunny or cloudy), pruning, thinning and picking time.
Red Astrachan has somewhat the reputation of a hardy cultivar, but I
read in an old journal of the Ontario Fruit Growers' Association from
100 or 110 years ago, that it was not fully hardy at Renfrew, Ontario in
the Ottawa valley in zone 4b. However, apple hardiness is considerably
subject to nutrition, soil, exposure, crop, and as I have recently read,
how late the apples are left on the tree.
The Russian apples are reputedly fairly sensitive to local climate and
apparently do better in the areas that have cool nights and summer day
length similar to their homeland, say McIntosh country at least. I've
read negative comments about Emperor Alexander from about Northern Spy
country and warmer, but the late Eddy Dugas told me that it was well
thought of in the cool areas of New Brunswick where it was hardy.
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Lisa Ishimuro wrote:
>> Does anyone know anything about this apple? I am reading an old book
> about New Hampshire
>> and the author is singing its praises. I noticed in the latest issue
> of Pomona that a Red Astrakan
>> is mentioned. Are there different varieties? Any info appreciated,
>>Snow covered 12 degrees zone 6
David Maxwell wrote:
> Red Astrachan (Astrakan, Astrakhan, etc) was grown extensively in the
> Eastern States and up into Canada (Ontario and the Maritimes) in the
> 1800's and early 1900's. It was one of the first Russian apples
> imported, reportedly in 1816. Here in Nova Scotia ( a Canadian province
> on the Eastern seaboard, Zone 5) there are still old timers who know the
> apple, and call it simply "Astrachan". There is a mature Astrachan tree
> a mile or so from my house. There is general agreement among all
> authorities that it is a very pretty apple. ("Scarce another apple of
> its season equals it in beauty of appearance..." Linus Woolverton, The
> Canadian Apple Grower's Guide) It is generally listed as of good
> quality, ("When fully ripe and mellow, it is desirable for dessert
> use..." Beach, Apples of New York - hardly a glowing recommendation, but
> not as damning as some of Beach's comments.) In my orchard it is
> distinctly mediocre, and as far as I am concerned its sole redeeming
> feature is that it is very early - the beginning of August here.
> There is another Astrachan - White Astrachan (syn. Astrachan d' Ėté,
> Transparente d'Ėté, Transparente Astrachan, Astrachan Blanche, etc.) I
> have no experience with this whatsoever. Beach dismisses it as "A
> Russian apple of little or no value for this region" (New York). Its
> season is similar, an early apple, ("August and September" - Beach) I
> think that when the name Astrachan is used it is invariably in reference
> to the Red Astrachan.
> David Maxwell - Deep in frozen snow, Zone 5
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