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Gray Pearmain Apple

unknown parentage, likely before 1870
possibly from Skowhegan, Maine


Grafted 2013 -- (1) branch of wild seedling Splitter
First Fruit 2022

(#2) wild seedling rootstock Honeycrisp-2

Gray Pearmain fruit 2023

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Black Oxford



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Emma's Crab
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Gray Pearmain



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Sweet Sixteen


2013 grafted with scion from Fedco, Maine. One on a south branch of wild apple 'Splitter' (east of shop), and a second on a low branch of wild seedling whose main graft is Honeycrisp by the outhouse. It took almost ten years to fruit but it's a nice mild sweet apple with enough hint of pear texture and flavor to see why it has Pearmain in its name.

Gray Pearmain apple cut2023 - #1 (Splitter) - Still vigorous, pruned back some and cut out strong uprights. More fruit this year- most with significant insect damage. Harvest 10/8 - tossed smallest ones, left with 16 small to medium, somewhat rough, with light sooty blotch. Only a few nice "clean" ones. Ate one but it was still a little "green" - firm, light juice, some flavor. A week later they were better with nice mild sweet flavor, tender-firm. In November skins getting a bit 'rubbery' (root cellar temperatures still in the 40's) but flavor good, nice eating. Ate last (best) one 11/24 - nice, refreshing, good texture, flavor and juice. A real nice apple, if I can entice the insects away. Likely do better (as most apples would) with better (colder) storage temperatures.

2022 - #1 (Splitter) continues vigorous, really too vigorous for moderate growing Splitter, with healthy growth. Did a lot of pruning to bring it in better balance. Steve cut down the dying elm that was directly south of the tree, greatly lengthening the amount of full sun it receives, from 2 1/2 hrs to 5-6 hrs. This should make a big difference in future years.

But even this year, to my surprise and hopeful delight, having never tasted a Gray Pearmain, I saw it had a bloom the end of May. Being the first there wasn't a lot of hope for a fruit but there was some. The main Splitter tree was fairly full of blooms. Later I discovered not one, but THREE Gray Pearmain fruits. Wow. September 21 was the discovery that the birds had significantly pecked one of the Hoholik apples on the tree and had started in on the Gray Pearmains. Grrrr... I grabbed the tulle carrot seed bags I had made several years ago and put them on all the "special" apples. That worked, but with the damage and a stretch of rainy weather I'm afraid the GP's didn't come out looking too good. But at least they were there.

October 6 -- The First Gray Pearmains

With several low 20's freezes forecast and a spell of rain to follow I decided to pick just in case the temps went lower and damaged these long awaited fruits (the graft is from 2013). I had considered if I should simply cut off this grafted branch since it had taken so long to fruit, but considering the lack of sun access it's likely a surprise that the tree manages to fruit at all (the main tree usually has a moderate crop).

But this year it saved itself by setting those three apples, the first of which the birds got to before I did, doing significant damage so I got only a small bit of the obviously not ripe apple, but it was nicely sweet and with great potential. The other two I picked  this day. They certainly aren't model specimens with bird and bug damage and surface blemishes but here they were, in person (so to speak), not just a photo online.

first Gray Pearmain apples October 6

One was obviously green, the other with more yellow was maybe ripe? Since the yellowish one was damaged I cut that one up right away. It was firm, not very juicy, rather like a Black Oxford. It had a nice sweet flavor even though it turned out it wasn’t fully ripe (seeds partially brown). But it was enough to make me anticipate some really good eating if they could ripen fully. I’m a bit concerned about that because this is rather late (October) for fruit to ripen here. The obviously green one is in the root cellar awaiting, hopefully, further ripening. But this is the first fruit for this graft and the tree it is on doesn’t get ideal sun. It will likely change as it matures.

November 12 - The greenish fruit was starting to feel a bit rubbery so I decided not to wait any longer though it was still the same green color. To my surprise the seeds were brown. There was some insect damage but the texture inside was fine, certainly eatable, and the flavor nice - gently sweet with no tartness or hint of under-ripeness. I'm feeling much better and hopeful about this variety and look forward to more fruit in years to come.

#2 (outhouseHC) - Continues with very small growth but doing OK. This tree also gets little good sun.

2021 - #1 (Splitter) vigorous, healthy growth.   #2 (outhouseHC) OK.

2019 - #1 Splitter more vigorous (older tree), healthy.   #2 slow growing but doing OK.

2018 - #1 - Good 5-12" growth side branches & several longer shoots. Looks good.
#2 - Growth thin but looking much better, 5-8".
#3 - Whole thing died over winter, rootstock and scion. Bummer.

2017 - #1 - Good growth, healthy, light blight/insect presence.  
#2 - Several inches growth, looking better. Some insect damage.  
#3 - own scion grafted onto wild apple/crab a8, east orchard. Nice 2 yr rootstock, grafted fairly high. Long 9" thin scion, top bud 9" healthy growth, lightly discolored leaves, 40" height total.

2015 - #1 - good growth.   #2 - growing but still thin, looks rough a few inches of stem around graft but guess is OK.

2014 -  (#1) - Cut back 1/3 long shoot. Turned out all last years shoot winterkilled. Thankfully some shoots growing on prev year’s growth. (#2) - growing fine, but rather thin.

2013 - Scion from Fedco. (#1) - grafted on south branch of wild "splitter" tree east of shop. Finally popped 6/27! Grew fine.  (#2) - grafted on east branch of "Honeycrisp2" apple by outhouse. 6/16 a bit of green showing at both buds. Hurray!

Online Notes: Fall-Winter. Delicious fresh eating with distinct pear flavor, firm white juicy, mildly tart flesh. Steadily gaining a devoted following. Medium-sized slightly ribbed and muffin-shaped fruit has a soft opaque greenish-yellow skin with a rosy pink blush, a russet veil, and a greyish bloom. Produces excellent juice. Pick late and eat them in the fall and all winter. Ttres growing in Fairfield, Maine. Annually bearing easy-to-grow medium-sized spreading tree. Probably Skowhegan, ME, before 1870. Z4-6.

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