I have a confession to make. I am a bit of an apple traitor. Normally I would always say, buy local, buy British, support UK farmers. I should, as a Brit and the friend of an English apple farmer, be championing the cox or other apples grown here. However my favourite apple is Pink Lady an apple that is impossible to grow legally in the UK. The reason it is impossible is that it is still under plant breeders rights and the breeder will not allow it to be grown here as conditions are not ideal and they wish to maintain its premier image.
So what to do? The answer might be to find something that is equally good that you can grow here and this might be found in scrumptious. I acquired scrumptious as part of a family tree of Bramley2000 and Christmas pippin, however Scrumptious does not require a pollination partner as it is partially self fertile but yields are improved with.
Scrumptious is an early/mid season apple, ready from mid August to September, bred in the 1980’s and who’s pedigree comes from Discovery, Golden delicious and Worcester Pearmain. It gets is size and crispness from Golden delicious, its colour, pink skin and creamy white flesh from discovery and its sweet, deep but also slightly tart flavour from Worcester Pearmain. My tree is extremely healthy with no signs of disease. Scrumptious has been awarded the RHS award of garden merit at the time of writing. It’s only downside is that in dry conditions it can develop bitter pit so ensure even watering and the other downside is that sometimes it is just too prolific! Scrumptious is a heavy cropper, in fact so heavy the first year I let it set fruit a bough broke under the weight of it. I have learnt my lesson now and thin the fruit by about 2/3 on young branches as it’s rather soft weeping branches cannot take the weight of more than 3 or so apples.
In the Kitchen
Scrumptious is a desert apple for eating fresh. You could also use it in tart tatin.
Yield and plant health
Start harvesting from late August to September and the apples will store well in a cold dark place. In a good year you will get plenty of fruit set and you will need to thin to get large fruit and prevent bough breakage. Ensure even watering in dry periods to prevent bitter pit which is where the fruit develops brown patches inside and out, making it inedible.
Pollination group three but is self fertile.
How to Grow
Apples are frost hardy trees that can grow for up to around 200 years if well looked after. Traditionally they are planted when dormant in the winter and you can buy either pots or bare rooted plants.
Trees are often grown on different rootstocks to reduce the size that they will grow to. The smaller the root stock, the faster to fruit but yield is reduced. Smaller rootstocks are good for training apples against walls in the forms of cordons or “stepovers” or for growing apples in pots.
M27 – Extremely dwarfing. Used for cordons or growing in pots or where a small tree is required. Tree will grow to 1.2m and needs permanent staking or tying in. Space trees 1.2m apart.
M9 – Dwarfing. Tree will grow to 2m. Used for bushes or small trees. Plant 2.5m apart. Needs permanent staking.
M26 – Dwarfing. Tree will grow to 3m. Plant 4m apart. Needs permanent staking.
MM105 – Semi dwarfing. Grows to 4m. Plant 5m apart. Stake for first 5 years.
M25, MM111- Vigorous. Trees will grow to 6m. Plant 6m apart. Stake for first 3 years.
Before you plants arrive prepare the ground in a sunny, sheltered spot preferably with good drainage. You will also need stakes and ties and you might want to have mmycorrhizal fungi
Dig a hole the size of the rootball in depth but three times as wide. If your soil is heavy clay you might want to incorporate some extra drainage with some grit and compost. Position your stake in the planting pit and bang firmly in using a mallet. If using mycorrhizal fungi then gently sprinkle over the roots before laying them down in the planting pit, spreading the roots out in the pit. The tree should be no deeper than previously planted and the graft if it is a grafted tree should not be covered. Cover the roots with soil and gently firm in with your foot around the tree. Tie the tree to the stake and water well.
After this your tree should need little attention. It is advisable to remove any fruit that sets in the first year to allow it focus on setting up healthy roots and growth and to water in dry periods in the first year. The stake should remain for at least the first two years but apples grown on dwarfing rootstocks may need permanent staking and watering if dry.
Remove and dead or crossing branches in winter when dormant. You can also thin in summer to allow more light in to the tree.