Collet Apple Tree- Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
The Collet apple shares some similarities with the popular McIntosh apple. It is medium-sized (6-8cm in diameter), and light green in colour with a scarlet red wash, becoming entirely crimson red later in the harvest season. The flesh is striking: extremely white with streaks of red, and slow oxidation. The flavour of the apple will change depending on the harvest date, leaning towards more tartness earlier in the season, and tasting sweeter later on. It is always well-balanced and delicious, developing a fruity, almost cherry-like flavour as it fully ripens. In texture, the Collet apple is firm and very juicy. It makes excellent fresh eating, and lends itself equally well to cooking. It is also notable that the apple can withstand a frost of between -3 and -6C, which triggers the production of more sugars in the apple.
In good storage conditions the Collet apple keeps rather well, retaining a good appearance, taste and texture up until the month of February, (around six months after it is harvested). At this point, however, it will have lost much of its acidity and tastes mainly sweet and less distinctive. In March, we noted that although it was still edible, the flesh became floury and the core turned brown.
As well as being very hardy (it has proven its resilience in temperatures as low as 46ºC), the Collet apple tree is a favourite amongst apple growers due to its resistance to disease. There is a general consensus about its resistance to scab, but some people have noticed a light sensitivity to Fireblight. In optimal conditions, it is precocious and produces fruit as early as 3 years old.
Note that Collet is self-sterile. It requires another apple tree of a different variety planted nearby, in order to produce fruit.
The Collet apple tree was discovered and propagated by Albert Collet and Sister Alice from Notre-Dame-de Lourdes in Manitoba. In 1934, they gathered 300 apple seeds from the Morden Research Center of Manitoba and planted them all. Of the 300 apple trees propagated, 35 survived the cold winters. Whilst many were visually appealing, only one produced delicious and large fruit in good quantity. After 13 years of testing its resistance to cold weather, in temperatures as low as -46 degrees Celsius (-52°F), they finally released it to be propagated and commercialised.
The apple trees we produce are grafted on standard-sized rootstock, so they are ‘full-sized’ apple trees (as opposed to dwarf or semi-dwarf). The life expectancy of this type of apple tree is around 100 years. The illustration shows different stages of its growth up until the age of 20 years (as one rarely plans a landscaping arrangement with a longer time period in mind). At 100 years old, the apple tree will be even larger than shown here – it can reach 7 m in height and spread over 9m – while the house might no longer exist!
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of observations of the growth of apple trees in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it would be faster.
All our apple trees are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot apple tree, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)
All our apple trees are grafted on standard-sized rootstock, which we grow ourselves at the nursery. Trees that are grafted on standard-sized rootstock will become full-sized apple trees (as opposed to dwarf, or semi-dwarf.) While the life expectancy of a dwarf apple tree is only about 20 years, full-sized apple trees such as those we propagate have a lifespan of around 100 years. We believe it is of the utmost importance to plant for future generations, which is one of the main reasons we prefer these kinds of trees.
Besides this, standard-sized apple trees also have many other qualities that set them above dwarf and semi-dwarf trees in our view. For example, their deep and well-developed root systems allow them to draw water from deep underground during periods of droughts. They are more vigorous and resilient, which in turn also makes them more disease-resistant. They are very hardy, and last but not least, much more productive!
To learn more about grafting and the role of rootstocks, see our article here!