Saturday, October 8, 2011

ID parade

I recently took advantage of a Fruit Identification Day at RHS Wisley in Surrey. Laden with samples from my apple and pear trees, I headed off to meet Jim Arbury, renowned fruit specialist for the RHS. He started with the easy ones first - my long smooth pears were quickly identified as Conference and the apples as Golden Delicious.The latter has produced a very poor harvest this year. In fact, to my inexperienced eyes, the whole tree has been looking a trifle below par all season. We did a bit of pruning last winter, but I'm fairly confident that hasn't caused its current woes. Early in the year it developed powdery mildew on much of the new growth. This could be explained by the early season hot/dry weather, causing water stress to the tree making it susceptible to infection. Then many of the blossoms were hit by the late frosts in May and resulted in only a handful of apples making it through to harvest time.
Conference pears

My second pear variety caused Jim a little further deliberation as reference books were consulted and samples were cut open. He soon identified it as a late pear - which sounds about right given that they've always been hard, even when they're falling off the tree. A few more comparisons later and we had a name - Winter Nelis. A variety with its origins in Belgium in the early 1800s, it's a small squat fruit, heavy with russet and not particularly attractive (a pear only a mother could love). But armed with Jim's advice, I shall be harvesting them at the end of October, putting them into storage and then enjoying beautifully ripe pears at Christmas.
Now, can anyone lend me a dozen apple storage trays??


  1. Those are really gorgeous pears! Looks so juicy!

  2. That's great to be able to identify your apples and pears. I'm hoping to go to an apple tasting event later on this month, I hope the weather cooperates.

  3. Malar - the pears have been very tasty this year. It must be down to the odd early season weather that we had a great pear harvest but very low apple numbers.

    Jo - I didn't get chance to go to an apple event this year but I hope the weather stayed good for your visit!