Beginning in 2002, we have profiled cider apple varieties planted in the WSU cider apple research orchard from a grower and cider maker perspective. On an annual basis we collect data on blooming, productivity, and juice quality. Each year with the assistance of an expert cider maker we also select a few varieties for fermentation, and upon maturation have them evaluated by a trained sensory panel.
- 1979: 6 cider apple varieties first planted at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC
- 1983-1994: 20 varieties added and observations on productivity and disease pressure initiated
- 1994: 70 cider apple varieties planted and data collection on juice and cider characteristics initiated
- 2003: Low-trellised ‘Brown Snout’ planted and mechanization proof of concept study initiated
- 2014-2016: 65 varieties planted on Geneva 935 rootstock in a replicated research orchard
- 2017: 96 trees of ‘Ashmead’s Kernel’ planted on Geneva 11 rootstock in a replicated orchard for anthracnose canker studies
- 2017: 300 trees (100 trees each of 3 varieties) planted on Geneva 202 rootstock in a replicated orchard to research cultural systems
Cider apple varieties in our test orchards include those originating from England, France, Germany, and the United States. Parameters of evaluation include:
1. Bloom time, bloom rating, and productivity;
2. Juice quality characteristics (degree brix, specific gravity, pH, malic acid and tannic acid equivalents);
3. Cider sensory characteristics (appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, taste, and aftertaste).
4. Cultural methods and improvements (mechanical harvest, pruning, and thinning, deficit irrigation).