Apple identification

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How raised are your lenticels? Is there puckering on the basin wall or radiating ridges? All critical questions, we discovered, when it comes to the dark art of apple identification.

With over 7500 known apple cultivars identifying individual varieties is quite a challenge. Last week we took a break from orchard maintenance to learn some of the basics.

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We selected five or six examples of typical fruit from four different trees and examined them against a number of different criteria.

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We began by looking at the shape of the apple and its symmetry – is it round or irregular? The skin texture – greasy or waxy, dry and rough or finely abrasive? Did it have skin russet; when it was first picked was there a bloom on the skin? What is the main colour and the over colour?   Easy?  Well, it was interesting how much discussion and not a little disagreement it provoked.

It was the base of the apple that was, perhaps, the most surprising. Some apples had distinct creases or folds and ridges in the basin wall, whilst others had intriguing raised pimples known as beading. Next time you’re eating an apple turn it upside down and take a look.

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We are grateful to FruitID who allowed us to use materials from their website to guide us through the process of identification.  At this time of year the apples are too immature to identify them accurately,  but if you want to know what apples are growing in your own orchard FruitID is a fantastic resource. The website is still a work in progress but it already has 770 named apple varieties on its database.

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Still wondering what lenticels are? Well, they are the tiny dots, that function as pores, that can sometimes be seen on the skin of an apple. On some apple varieties lenticels are quite distinctive and can provide a useful indicator to the apple variety.

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