Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NY 652

No name. Not even a nickname. This is just NY 652, of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station.

But the grower, Samascott Orchards, tell us that 652 is "like Empress"—as well it might be, as that named variety's original number was NY 651.

This medium-sized fruit has a blush over spring green that runs to a deep crimson. The blush covers most of the apple though only some is darkly saturated. The many tiny lenticels are faint on my photographed example, nearly invisible on another.

Like Empress, 652 has some smoky bloom on the peel. You can see where some of that has been rubbed away in the photo.

The apple has a classical round shape with a little bit of ribbing and an even littler bit of conical taper towards the base. The unbroken fruit smells faintly sweet and feels firm.

Six fifty-two's light-yellow flesh is halfway between fine and coarse. There's a slight give to the (mostly) crisp bite, more pronounced in my second sample a few days later. The apple is well balanced, with plenty of cane sugar tempered by a dash of tart.

This balance is the sweet spot that lets flavors strut their stuff. 652 has two flavor sets: a "conventional" Northeast palette of generic berries and wine, and a more-exotic bunch of tastes that are succulent and fruity. There's a whiff of watermelon candy (no doubt from its Vista Bella parent) and nectarine.

These flavors make a winning and unusual combination. The family resemblance to 651 (Empress) is clear, though I think a head-to-head comparison would show clear differences too. (Update: It does.)

The skin of this apple is chewy.

I admire the imagination of the farmers who choose to grow this nameless variety. Closer to my home, Hutchins Farm has similarly mined the deeper reaches of the NY Ag. Station's catalog, with rewarding results.

Impersonal numbers are hard to remember. The folks at Samascott might consider taking a leaf from Hutchins' playbook by giving these numbered varieties nicknames to help introduce them to the public.


  1. Adam,

    Its not really Samascott's call to name the variety. The farm just inquired about it thru the Geneva germplasm department and received the scions thru the mail. If successful on a wide scale Geneva would name the variety. Why it takes so long? You got me, but naming it one thing then having Geneva name it another would cause confusion with the public.

    1. Well, I don't think this apple is going to take off that way. It's been around for a while and various sources have passed on it (citing, in one case, that it is too much like Empress).

      A nickname does not have the same status as a variety name, but I think the ones at Hutchins are fun and make things easier on the customer. (I quite like the name "Sister of Fortune" for NY 428, given that Fortune's number is 429.)

      Consider that if these varieties succeed it will be as a result of how well places like Samascott promote them. A nickname is just marketing.


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