GORDOSOFT CORPORATION
UPDATES: I have learned an incredible amount since I originally created this page years ago. I am now a member of the Backyard Fruit Growers (based out of the Lancaster, PA area). I have learned to graft my own trees (thanks to the BYFG group!), I have grafted 5 additional varieties of pear onto the original two trees I planted, and planted many grafted apple tree varieties, both new plants and replacements of some that didn't make it (Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Ashmead's Kernel, Cox's Orange Pipen, Spitzenburg, etc.) I have been successfully using the fruit bagging technique to grow organic apples. I am getting good yields and quality fruit. The following is now a pretty old description of how I got started.

In April of 2006 I planted a mini orchard in my front yard. 10 apple trees ordered from a reputable nursery (Adams County Nursery in Pennsylvania). Most of my trees are on the EMLA-7 semi-dwarf rootstock (Honeycrisp is EMLA 106 and Ginger Gold is EMLA 111). I also planted two pear trees on semi-dwarf rootstock (later turning them into 6 different varieties on 2 trees via grafting).

My management strategy comes from the Penn State small scale fruit production guide and the ATTRA Organic and low-spray apple production guide.

I followed the specific pruning instructions found here (a GREAT fully illustrated presentation from Penn State on step by step pruning how-to).

My goal is to do everything organically, I know it will be tough to get high yields and high quality but we'll see how things work out. So far things have gone well. Biggest pest has been the Japanese beetle. I have only gotten a few apples in year two, but it looks like I should have dozens in year three. I experimented with fruit bagging in year two with good results and plan to continue this practice of barrier protection of the fruit which eliminates the need for continuous spraying. In year three I bagged over a hundred apples but the branches were not strong enough to hold that many. In year 4 I finally got a respectable crop, I bagged several hundred apples (honeycrisp has not produced fruit yet! I blame the 106 rootstock, but it should get bigger than the other trees and eventually produce more fruit than the others so I'll be patient). So far my favorite is Pink Lady.

I also started raising mason bees (blue orchard bees at first, and now hornfaced bees as well) for pollinating my trees (and everything else I grow). This is a work in progress. In the first year I made five trap nests and deployed 3 of them near a local river. There ended up being about 30 completed nest tubes but I'm not sure what species they were, the only mason bee I saw was dead. I saved the cocoons, there were some wasps that came out the following spring, overall it probably wasn't worth trying to trap the locals. I decided to order some mason bee cocoons. After cleaning and counting them, there were 87 mason bee cocoons in the tubes that I ordered. It turned out that most of the bees were dead on arrival, only 23 cocoons were viable. However these 23 really thrived and by the end of the summer, there was a 7-fold increase. I gave half of them to my Dad, and look forward to seeing what happens next year, but this is a promising start. The neighborhood kids got to learn about the bees and watch them build their nests and pollinate almost every flower on the block. They are a very gentle bee that does not sting. Fun to watch.

The depth and width of bore used for the nest tubes is critical for maximizing the female bee population. Protection must also be provided against mold, mites, and a host of predators. I built new nest blocks that are more optimal for this bee, I'm just hoping they can find enough nectar and pollen in my yard to stick around this year and the birds don't kill them.

In 2008 I decided to venture into grafting my own trees. I joined the local "backyard fruit growers" club and attended their grafting workshop. This was a really great experience, I got to meet other people as obsessed as I am, and got to learn directly from a grafting mentor who taught me the whip and tongue technique and all the other tips that go along with the art. I grafted 10 more trees on M7 and 111 rootstock - these ones were carefully selected based on study of taste test results and 9 out of 10 are heirloom varieties unlike the more commercial varieties I initially purchased. I'm very excited about growing these new trees. I was not that optimistic about my grafts - as the buds were slow to open, but many have survied and thrived.

The varieties of apple trees I initially planted are (in order of maturity):

Ginger Gold® PP#7063 (Mountain Cove Cultivar)

We are pleased and excited to offer this ACN exclusive variety. Discovered as a chance seedling on the orchards of Clyde and Ginger Harvey of Lovingston, VA, this Golden Delicious-type apple ripens six weeks ahead of Golden Delicious and can be harvested the first week of August in Adams County. Ginger Gold® exhibits all the qualities of a fall variety and ripens three weeks before McIntosh. The highest quality early season yellow dessert apple available.
Maturity: August 5
Fruit Color: Golden
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 8
Keeping Qualities: 6
Flavor (Subjective): 8
Resistance to Fire Blight: 4
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: mid-season

Fulford Gala® PP#7589


A solid blush strain of Gala originating in Hastings, New Zealand. The Fulford strain matures three to four days ahead of other Gala strains. Color is a bright orange-red with yellow background. Fulford Gala® is a larger sized Gala, with a blush red rather than stripe. An excellent choice for roadside markets and pick-your-own. Fulford Gala® is a registered trademark of Interplant Patent Marketing.
Maturity: August 29
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 7
Keeping Qualities: 6
Flavor (Subjective): 9
Resistance to Fire Blight: 5
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: mid-season

Crimson® Gala PP#8673 (Waliser Cltv.)


Intense coloring striped strain of Gala, discovered in a block of Royal Gala in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. It has similar size and flavor to its parent, Tenroy Gala, maturing three to five days later. A very precocious annual bearer with upright growth habit producing strong wide-angle crotches. Recommended for northern growing districts where full color with a prominent stripe is desired.
Maturity: September 5
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 6
Keeping Qualities: 6
Flavor (Subjective): 9
Resistance to Fire Blight: 5
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: mid-season

Honeycrisp® (Minn. 1711R Cltv.) PP#7197


This exceptional new variety developed at the University of Minnesota was originally thought to have been a Macoun x Honeygold cross. But recently completed DNA testing has determined that neither Macoun nor Honeygold are parents of Honeycrisp. The testing determined for certain that Keepsake, another apple from the University of Minnesota's apple breeding program that was released in 1978, is one of the parents. But, despite extensive searching, the other parent has not been identified. There is no DNA match among any of the varieties that are thought to be possible parents. The fruit is mostly orange-red with a yellow background. This crisp, juicy, sweet apple has a rich flavor that has made it #1 in taste panels. The fruit averages 3" and up, matures ten days before Red Delicious, has a two week harvest window, and stores well. Outstanding winter hardiness gives this variety excellent potential for northern growing areas, particularly for roadside markets and pick-your-own operations. Honeycrisp is moderately resistant to apple scab and fire blight.
Maturity: September 15
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score:
Size: 8
Keeping Qualities: 9
Flavor (Subjective): 9
Resistance to Fire Blight: 5
Resistance to Apple Scab: 5
Bloom: mid-season

Jonagold De Coster™ PP#8049


Selected by Henry De Coster, a prominent horticulturist from Belgium, this red strain is one of the leading red strains planted in Europe. The apple has an attractive red blush over yellow background with red color developing just before harvest. The strain is characterized by excellent dessert and processing qualities, and does not compromise the flavor of the original Jonagold selection. Trees are very vigorous, productive, and spreading in habit.
Maturity: September 20
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 8
Keeping Qualities: 6
Flavor (Subjective): 9
Resistance to Fire Blight: 6
Resistance to Apple Scab: 4

Red Yorking


This sport of York Imperial colors earlier and has more complete color. The premium processing apple.
Maturity: October 15
Fruit Color: Red
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 7
Keeping Qualities: 9
Flavor (Subjective): 7
Resistance to Fire Blight: 4
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: late season

Crown Empire™ (Crist Cltv.) PPAF

A red blush sport discovered at Crist Brothers Orchard, Walden, NY in 1990. Exhibits full red color two weeks ahead of Empire. Very productive and a better annual bearer than other blush strains observed. Trees are somewhat less vigorous than Empire producing a slightly smaller tree. We feel this strain is worthy of planting and will set new standards for the Empire market.
Maturity: October 20
Fruit Color: Red
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 6
Keeping Qualities: 8
Flavor (Subjective): 7
Resistance to Fire Blight: 8
Resistance to Apple Scab: 5
Bloom: early season

Braeburn


A late season apple developed in New Zealand. Medium to large fruit with sweet-tart flavor and long storage life. Tree is spur-type with low vigor. Braeburn matures in late October in southern Pennsylvania.
Maturity: November 1
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 7
Keeping Qualities: 8
Flavor (Subjective): 8
Resistance to Fire Blight: 4
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: early season

GRANNY SMITH


A late, green, tart apple, maturing in early November. Develops a red blush in the Northeast. High quality eating apple with a storage life equal to Fuji.
Characteristics
Bloom: Mid Season
Maturity Date: November 5
Fruit Color: Green
Rating (1-9) 9 being the best.
Size: 8
Keeping Qualities: 9
Flavor: 7
Resistance to Fire Blight: 6
Resistance to Apple Scab: 7
Pollination Information
Granny Smith blooms in mid-season and will pollinate all other early blooming apple varieties, varieties blooming in the middle of the season, and also varieties blooming late in the season.

Pink Lady® PP#7880 (Cripps Pink Cltv.)


Attractive pink blush over a yellow ground color, this Golden Delicious x Lady Williams cross is suggested for warmer Mid-Atlantic growing regions. The fruit is medium to large, crisp with a sweet-tart flavor, and a long storage life. Pink Lady® develops full flavor after four weeks in storage. It requires only 400 chill hours and it matures 200-215 days after bloom. Because of the low chilling requirement and the naturally high vigor of this variety, it may be planted in a range of sites, including warm climates and weak soils. Summer pruning, low fertility and low vigor rootstocks are highly recommended. Pink Lady® matures November 10 in South Central Pennsylvania.
Maturity: November 10
Fruit Color: Red/Yellow
Rating Scale (1 - 9) 1=lowest score 9= highest score
Size: 7
Keeping Qualities: 8
Flavor (Subjective): 8
Resistance to Fire Blight: 4
Resistance to Apple Scab: 6
Bloom: mid-season