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Disease-resistant fruit varieties

Cedar-apple rustOne of my favorite parts of Organic Orcharding was comparing Logsdon's take on disease-resistant fruit varieties to the selections chosen by more-modern authors like Lee Reich and Michael Phillips.  In case you're a new reader, you might want to start out by browsing over these posts:


What's fascinating when comparing Logsdon's list to those of other authors is how few varieties appear on both --- apparently trees go out of style over time, so Reich and Phillips might not have even experimented with the fruits Logsdon swore by in the 1970s (and vice versa).  For example, although Logsdon's list of pears matches up with the ones mentioned in the post linked above, most of his resistant stone fruits aren't on the above lists.  Here's
Brown rot on peachesLogdon's selection of stone fruits resistant to brown rot in case you want to give them a shot:

  • Alberta, Belle of Georgia, and Redhaven peaches
  • Hagan Sweet and Morton nectarine
  • Greengage, Ozark Premier, Redheart, and Stanley plums

However, Logsdon does agree with the other authors that sweet cherries and nectarines are trouble in humid climates (unless you're willing to grow the cherry rootstock Mazzard for its small but disease-resistant fruits).

Which brings us to apples.  Phillips' extensive (although organic) spray regimen makes modern readers believe apples are impossible to grow in a chemical-free fashion, but Logsdon instead considers apples the most reliable of high-quality fruit species.  He makes the argument that if you choose resistant varieties (see below), use the worst apples for livestock, the okay ones for cider or cooking, and only expect a third of your fruits to be dessert quality, you can grow apple trees without any sprays at all.  That sounds like a regiment a homesteader can get behind!

From most to least resistant: I=Immune; VR=Very Resistant; R=Resistant; S=Susceptible

Scab
Fire blight
Cedar-apple rust
Powdery mildew
Adanac
R



Akane
R



Astrachan
R



Baldwin
R



Ben Davis

R


Black Twig

R


Chehalis
VR



Duchess

S
R

Earliblaze
R



Golden Delicious
R
S
S
R
Grimes Golden
VR
R


Jonafree
VR



Jonathan
R
S

S
Liberty
I
VR
VR
R
MacFree
I



Macoun
R



McIntosh
S

R
S
Northwest Greening

R


Nova Easy-Grow
I



Prima
I

VR

Priscilla
I

VR

Red Baron
R



Red Delicious
S

R

Sir Prize
I
S


Spartan
R



State Fair
R



Stayman Winesap

R


Transparent
R



Tydeman's Early Red
R



Wagener
R



Winesap
S

R

York Imperial
VR




I hope that gives an idea of where to get started if you want to plant a completely spray-free orchard.  If I run across more lists of resistant varieties in other books, I'll be sure to update with another post.


This post is part of our Organic Orcharding lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:


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We have planted a few apple varieties, but still waiting for "fruition". I have also planted a good amount of common apple seedlings I obtained from VA Dept of Forestry to grow as rootstock for future grafts. I understand that good, healthy rootstock is more than half the battle. Once I see what rootstock thrives the most, I will choose which to graft.

I am also a big fan of diversity in species. I have been to a workshop with Alexis Zeigler, who recommends many other fruits not normally seen on store shelves, like persimmons, jujubes, and muscadines. He has a free PDF you can check out: http://conev.org/fruitbook9.pdf

Comment by Chris Lumpkin Thu Dec 12 13:59:29 2013

I'm intrigued by the idea of brown rot-free stone fruits. It would be nice. I can say, however, that Belle of Georgia is not one of them. Other guides list it as highly susceptible, and my own experience matches that. I have decent success pulling them a few days before ripening, but the tree is definitely not low-maintenance.

Another interesting apple variety: striped June, aka Margaret. I have cedar apple rust issues with my trees (there are cedars in the woods), but a very old striped June tree seems unfazed. I found an old Auburn University publication noting it was resistant. I wonder if the original homeowner planted it for that reason? It is pretty much a trouble-free tree, but it does get flyspeck and sooty blotch.

Comment by Anonymous Thu Dec 12 16:33:58 2013