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Lubera stops plant deliveries to the UK
Due to Brexit, we are not able to deliver to the UK. We are working on a solution on how we can continue to bring a wide range of Lubera plants to the UK and directly to our customers' homes in the future. However, such a solution will not be available before 2022 or 2023.

Summer apples

Summer apples Paradis Julka Lubera

Summer apples: this term consists of two words - summer and apple. That's not too profound now, but do the thought experiment with me: first think of summer, the heat, the glaring, blinding light, the heat of the oven, the long days that go by so quickly...

   
 
Apple Paradis® Julka®

The earliest summer dessert apple

From £21.40 *

Apple Paradis® Katka®

Early summer apple with substance...

From £27.90 *

Apple Paradis® Ninifee®

A crisp, sweet apple

From £18.90 *

Apple Paradis® Werdenberg®

The first summer apple with dessert quality

From £18.90 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Pronto®

A columnar apple tree that is tolerant to fire blight

From £19.40 *

Columnar Apple Malini® Subito®

An early ripening and fast-bearing columnar apple

From £19.40 *

Redlove® Circe®

New from the 'Sweet Line'

From £21.40 *

   
 

More information about summer apples

 

...and then think of the apple: the grip on the round fruit, the bite into the firm flesh, the sweet and sour juice that is released, the quenched thirst, the quickly satisfied need. So, now we have it: exactly these are summer apples! Of course, there is also a useful and very simple definition: summer apples are varieties of apples that ripen in the summer, ultimately in July and August.

 

 

Buying summer applesSummer apples Paradis Julka Lubera

 

Have you ever tried to buy summer apples (the fruit) and can you find these varieties in the supermarket? The answer is: definitely no! The apple summer in the supermarket takes place until the end of August with last year's stock varieties ('Braeburn', 'Jonagold' etc.) - with apples from the southern hemisphere. Usually, the first apples on the market this year are autumn apple varieties or storage varieties harvested in early areas in Italy or France, e.g. early clones of 'Gala', which are harvested in Italy at the beginning of August. These are mostly continuously red coloured Gala clones, which can be harvested physiologically too early (because they are coloured enough). Subsequently, they end up straight in German or Swiss supermarkets, so that they are eaten before they collapse.

So there are almost no real summer apple varieties to buy in the supermarket (maybe with the exception of the Gravensteiner in Switzerland, for a very short time). The reason for this is partly due to global trade (from the southern hemisphere, storage varieties can be transported here and sold with a good shelf-life), but also due to the ever-improving storage and refrigeration technology, which manages to store certain apple varieties for up to 15 months. And when these 'old' apples have been stored for such a long time, they have to be sold, because, in addition to the production costs, the storage costs have to be paid. Against this logic, early apple varieties have almost no chance in July and August.

Apart from the globalisation and mechanisation of the fruit market, there is a third reason why summer apples are no longer competitive with alternative goods and apples from the southern hemisphere: supermarket marketing wants to sell apples as brands all year round; it has become so expensive for them to build up a brand and anchor it with consumers that they shy away from seasonal products, especially when they can have the same (an apple) in its main varieties all year round.

 

So let us summarise: you can hardly buy summer apples at all - you have to grow them yourself. And that is perhaps the most important reason to buy a summer apple tree: it gives you the pleasure of fruits that you can never buy in the supermarket!

 

Buying summer apple trees - the selection from Lubera®

 

All of our summer apple trees come from our own breeding, one summer apple variety, Paradis® 'Werdenberg'®, is even the very first apple variety bred and marketed by Lubera®. So, we started with summer apple trees and continue to intensively breed new summer apples.

The very early summer apples were created by crossing types from a group of varieties including 'Discovery' and 'Quinte' and the Czech variety 'Julia'. This group of varieties also brings a polygenic scab resistance (which is a valuable addition to a single gene resistance), and it seems that fire blight resistance is also inherited. Our variety 'Julka'®, which is already ripe around 20 July, shows besides scab resistance also a very extensive fire blight resistance, which by the way could also be transferred to other crossing partners. Contrary to all experiences with other summer apples, Paradis® 'Julka'® is not sour but very sweet and round and always very juicy.

Like 'Julka', Paradis® 'Katka'® is the result of crossing the East German scab-resistant variety 'Resi' with the Czech early variety 'Julia'. 'Katka' also shows a sour temperament but is very firm with large, juicy cells. Both varieties are very juicy in the summer and should be harvested almost ripe, as is usual with summer apples. Then, however, you have a consumption window of about four weeks.

The later summer apple varieties 'Ninifee'® and 'Werdenberg'® have been selected from crosses that were actually designed for autumn and storage: even in such crosses, the seedlings are normally distributed. Most of the seedlings will be found in the average of the two-parent varieties, but there will always be a few individuals on the periphery, i.e. very early or very late with respect to the ripening time. Both 'Werdenberg'® and 'Ninifee'® are the result of such lucky punches, and also in crosses where one would not necessarily expect early varieties. Accordingly, although ripe in August, they show many characteristics of storage varieties and can be stored for three months (Paradis® 'Werdenberg'®) to five months (Paradis® 'Ninifee'®). Both varieties share one more characteristic: while early apple varieties tend to drop, i.e. they simply drop the apples at physiological ripeness, these two varieties keep their apples long after physiological ripeness, so that you can easily enjoy apples from the same summer apple trees for four weeks or sometimes even longer and they will still be firm and crisp. Just imagine: the tree is standing in front of the house entrance, on the way to the car, and every morning during the summer and early autumn you harvest one apple, maybe two: one for the car ride (or the train and tram ride to work), the other for the break in between. Werdenberg® remains very firm throughout the whole time, but changes its taste character from mid-August to mid-September: First of all, Paradis® Werdenberg® is a typical summer apple, with a dominant acidity; the aroma is also quite close to Gravensteiner, but over time the acidity is reduced, the sugar increases, and in September, Werdenberg® can also taste quite banana-like. Paradis® 'Ninifee'®, which refers to a legendary Mesopotamian city, is very sweet from the beginning, but also extremely firm. Here we were also a bit uncertain for a long time whether this apple might not even be too firm. This firmness is then retained throughout the extended harvest period (from about four weeks at the end of August to almost the end of September) and is only marginally reduced. Also, the sugar remains, only that the sweetness becomes a little bit wider in the time and the juice from the firm flesh opens up a little bit better.

 

Summer apple trees as columnar trees

 

Finally, Malini® 'Subito'® and, to a lesser extent, Malini® 'Pronto'® are also summer apple varieties, both of which are the latest generation of columnar apples, with a ripening period of about the end of August. Perhaps it is also appropriate here to point out once again the nature of the columnar trees: columnar apples are not simply a variety of an existing variety, but are their own varieties, genetically anchored with a growth that combines a strong peak production (with almost no side shoots) with a short internode distance.

 

The two summer apple trees (with columnar growth) can be characterised as follows:

  • Compact, columnar growth
  • They belong to the medium-strong growth group of Malini®, the columnar apples, which grow between 200 and 250 cm high after 7 to 8 years (on the M26 rootstock we prefer)
  • Both varieties bear very regularly, especially in 'Subito'® the typical alternation of columnar apples (yield only every second year) is almost not observed
  • Both varieties are resistant to scab and are not very susceptible to mildew
  • 'Subito'® has a more acidic and refreshing taste, while Pronto'® is a sweet, very round apple with a very pleasant taste, which will especially appeal to children and lovers of sweet apples

What exactly are summer apples? And what makes them so attractive?

 

But of course, it is not only the market conditions but also the summer apple varieties themselves that are such a temptation, as they are almost never found in the market or in the supermarket (with the possible exception of small quantities of 'Gravensteiner' in Switzerland). Summer apples usually have a less stable texture, when fully ripe, their post-ripening mechanism runs at full speed so that it cannot be stopped and leads to mealy and brown apples after only a few days...

This limited shelf life has its logic: summer apples are produced on the tree in only 90-120 days, May to mid-July. And it is no surprise that the fruit flesh structure established during this period is less stable, less solid than that of autumn and storage varieties. 

Conversely, this is also part of the appeal of summer apples: they somehow have a different, fresher, perhaps greener aroma, and because of the less solid texture, the apple juice dissolves more quickly than in storage varieties. The weakness of summer apples is therefore precisely their strength: these are fresh apples for the summer, born from spring and summer, and can be enjoyed there too! In this respect, we should not necessarily breed a stock variety with summer ripeness, even if it remains a legitimate goal to improve the shelf-life, the shelf-life in the fruit peel at home. However, the charm of many, especially very early summer apples should not be lost: the taste that comes from freshness - short and intense. The eating experience of summer apples should be a juicy change and surprise, aromatically more of an ambush than a long-lasting experience. This is precisely what makes the summer apple a prime fruit:

  • Fruit develops in 80-120 days
  • Harvest in July and August, usually from mid-July; reliable varieties ripening in the first half of July are still missing
  • Very juicy releases juice quickly
  • Mostly sour rather than sweet, but with our variety 'Julka'® we have proven that sweet very early varieties are also possible
  • A special aroma, which is characterised by freshness, which also contains green tones (grassy, unripe aroma). An intense, but rather short 'green apple' aroma

The 'White Transparent' and its successors...

 

It is impossible to write and talk about summer apples without mentioning the 'White Transparent' apple. For generations of people in Eastern and Central Europe, but also in the far north and the Baltic States, this apple is still the epitome of the summer apple. Bred or rather randomly selected as a seedling, it was cultivated by a Wagner nursery in Riga around 1850, but then came to the famous and strong French nursery Leroy in France, which distributed it throughout Europe and made it famous. I also suspect that the French name 'Transparent Blanche' is the origin of the name, which was then translated faithfully: 'Transparent' for 'transparent' and 'Blanche' for 'white'. The somewhat strange description as 'transparent' can perhaps be explained in this way: the ripening skin, which changes colour from green to white when ripe, sometimes looks as if it is transparent, especially because it is sometimes spotted; in addition, the almost white skin of the fruit is complemented by a very light-coloured flesh, which - once cut open - together with the freshly exuding and sparkling juice can also look like transparent.

The dominance of this early apple over more than 100 years is unusual and can ultimately only be explained by the fact that such early apples are rare and difficult to grow. It is not that easy for the apple tree to produce an apple within a good 90 days, and then to produce a good yield overall.

Nevertheless, we have made so much progress with our breeding in the early apple sector that the 'White Transparent' apple simply has no place anymore - except as a historical note: especially 'Julka'® has pushed the possibilities of the early apple much further.

 

The advantages of the early apple variety Paradis® 'Julka'®

  • 'Julka' does not have a boring white colour, but is 50-70% red with stripes
  • 'Julka' is sweet to very sweet and pleases all lovers of sweet apples
  • Even if 'Julka' is picked a little earlier, it is already pleasantly sweet and mild
  • The shelf life is considerably longer than for the 'White Transparent' apple, about 4-6 weeks

When and how to plant summer apple trees

 

Basically, the same applies to the summer types as for all other apple trees: since we grow them in containers, in pots, they can be planted all year round. From the planting date of 1 October, the container summer apple trees should be defoliated and the root ball shaken out before planting so that you basically plant a bare-root tree. What at first sight seems absurd is explained as follows: if the root ball remains as a physical unit during autumn planting, it will warm up faster than the surrounding topsoil on warm winter days. The plant believes itself to be springtime and begins to convert starch into sugar. This leads to damage in the spring, when the tree buds out, which can also result in the death of the tree - the reason for this is ultimately poisoning symptoms caused by the alcohol produced from the sugar. The trees literally die because of alcohol...

The planting depth should be such that the root ball is covered with a layer of topsoil several centimetres high. However, the grafting point should still be free, i.e. not covered with soil.

 

The growth of the summer apple trees

 

While many older summer apple varieties grow rather strongly and sparse, the growth of the Lubera® summer apple varieties is weak, perhaps with the exception of the medium-strong growing Paradis® 'Ninifee'® variety. Paradis® 'Julka'® grows particularly weak, coupled with exceptionally good fertility. The variety does not tend to alternate at all. With 'Werdenberg'®, on the other hand, which is also blessed with compact growth and high fertility, in high-yielding years all flower clusters must be thinned out to one fruit if possible, in order to maintain fertility for the next year.

 

The disease resistance

 

All our summer apple varieties are scab resistant and not very susceptible to mildew. Paradis® 'Julka'® even has an extremely high resistance to fire blight, which we also try to transfer to new apple varieties in the early range (see the section on breeding below).

 

When are summer apples ripe?

 

It is not easy to determine the ripeness of summer apples, some criteria cannot be used at all:

 

For example, the seeds of summer apples are often still white (and not brown-black) when the fruit ripens, so they have not kept up with the rapid ripening rate of the fruit. However, the following signs indicate that the fruit is ripe enough:

  • Premature fruit fall is not uncommon with early varieties, but as soon as the first fruits fall to the ground, this is a sure sign that the variety is sufficiently ripe. As early varieties usually ripen somewhat in a logical manner (with a development period of only 90 days, even a few days of difference in flowering at the end make a big difference), harvesting of even barely ripe fruits can then begin. This is all the more important because the shelf life of summer apples can be extended a little longer.
  • Apples are easily detached from the fruitwood with the stalk.
  • If an apple is cut open, sweet fruit juice immediately bubbles out of the cut cells.
  • If you cut the apple open, there are (almost) no green spots in the fruit flesh, not even near the skin.
  • The basic colour changes from green to green-yellow.
  • Or quite simply: The apple tastes good...

Do summer apple trees need a pollinator?

 

Summer apple trees are self-infertile like all other apple varieties, so the flowers can only be fertilised by foreign pollen from other varieties. However, experience has shown that the fertilising insects carry enough foreign pollen during the apple blossoming period so that fertilisation is usually not a problem. Even the phenomenon that early varieties usually flower rather early does not change this fact: the overlap with the flowering time of other main varieties in a region is almost always sufficient.

In plain language: you only have to look for a pollinator variety in summer apples if you plant the apple tree on a lonely, remote alp, far away from other apple trees. Or if it turns out that fertilisation and subsequent fruit set are insufficient. However, our consulting experience shows that this is almost never the case; most cases of yield loss are due to flower frosts: ff the tree is flowering, but the flowering is affected by frost, this will also show up in the fruit set and yield (and has nothing to do with fertilisation...)

 

The future of summer apples - apple breeding at Lubera®

 

Unlike most apple breeding programmes, early apples are extremely important for Lubera®: we believe that summer is a very exciting apple season. The gardener would like to harvest and enjoy his/her fruit when he/she likes to be in the garden...But how can we expand our assortment?

  • More early apple varieties: in our opinion, more early varieties are interesting, ones that will certainly ripen in July. Our aim is to develop varieties that ripen at the beginning of July - and we believe that this must be possible. For smaller apple varieties, the end of June could also be possible...
  • The super resistance of 'Julka'® against scab and fire blight should also be present in new varieties if possible.
  • It is not necessarily our goal to provide these apples with an extremely long shelf life, this would turn summer varieties into storage varieties - and destroy the very special character of summer apples. Just as summer always has its end in itself, the summer varieties should not be able to be stored indefinitely. Their seasonality, their fragility is what makes them so special. This does not mean that the shelf life at home in the fruit bowl and apple crate should not last a few weeks; after all, you must have enough time to enjoy the fruits of your own gardening.
  • Different flavours and aromas.
  • Texture: a coarse-cellular, but very firm 'Sparkling'® texture would go extremely well with summer varieties. If you bite into an apple in the summer, you want to feel the juice as soon as possible. Many of our new crosses are designed with this in mind.

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