Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Crop: Vista Bella

A good crop from M27 cordon of Vista Bella, I haven't picked it or weighed it but there will be sufficient to keep us happy until the next variety ripens.

Flavour is good. When first picked are crisp with a good balance of acidity and sweetness, which quickly mellows to a softer, more strawberry-like sweetness particularly on fruit with extensive blush. The skin is thin, with no trace of bitterness, so often the problem with early red varieties. The fruit quickly goes soft, mellows but then looses flavour, so they must be eaten quickly. The season lasts for 2-3 weeks at most, which is about right for this time of year when there is plenty of other fruit available, but home-grown apples are still a treat. Best eaten straight from the tree, as they drop or part easily.

Squirrel damage

This has been an awful year for squirrel damage, with significant losses on some varieties. All the apples on the Worcester Pearmain were removed or damaged, the blighter then moved further up the garden to the pear cordons. Worst affected was Winter Nellis, where 2/3rds of the crop were nibbled and subsequently lost to brown rot. Nearly as bad was Devoe, where very few of the fruits escaped being bitten. Some bite marks will heal and go corky as with scab damage, but I doubt they will keep well. 

It took me a long time to catch the culprit, as there were several squirrels around and the fruit-nibbler was also the most wily. Plus my squirrel trap disappeared one night, whether taken by two-legged or four-legged vermin I don't know. I imagine squirrel trapping probably upsets some of my neighbours (particularly when they devote quite a large proportion of their income to feeding both them and the local rat population) but the losses they inflict on fruit are unacceptable, and it would be completely impractical to cage a quarter of an acre. The damage stopped immediately with the removal of the last squirrel.