Early apple season is here. What can I say? Kind of what we have been working towards all season. Picked:
Sansa -- 'an early, fresh-market apple' according to HortResearch NZ. Not to be confused with Sansa® music player, which interestingly enough holds a registered trademark for Sansa®.
Ginger Gold -- discovered as a chance seedling in Virginia. Very good quality and has grabbed a substantial portion of the early market. Available from ACN.
Akane -- a parent of Sansa. Pictured above. Under-appreciated and overlooked.
Paulared -- a McIntosh-type apple with average quality, but large, reliable, and productive. The first apple of the season with true fall-like flavor.
Zestar! -- introduced by the University of Minnesota. Note that Zestar! is a trademark name, the true cultivar name of this apple is 'Minnewashta' (yea, right), the name of a lake close to the U of M arboretum where Zestar! was born. I find the taste of Zestar! to be somewhat lacking, but I probably do not let it get ripe enough. A grower-friendly tree, but fruit readily drops and above average scab susceptibility. Not overly productive, but large fruit. Don't plant too many. More here in this Minnesota Public Radio article.
I collect 10 apples of each when I think they are ready for a first pick and subject them to a number of measurements, including size, skin color, flesh firmness, soluble solids, and starch-index. And taste. All maturity indexes, some better than others. I will be publishing my results here for the rest of the harvest season. Hope it goes well.