Norkent Apple Tree- Zone 2
Characteristics of the tree
Norkent is a medium-sized yellow apple, striped or streaked with red. In taste, it somewhat resembles an apple-pear, and its flavour is also sometimes compared to the Golden Delicious variety: sweet, almost caramelized, with little to no acidity. It measures 14.8 Brix. It is also excellent in texture: firm, quite juicy and very crunchy. The skin is moderately thick and the fruit will sometimes russet. Norkent is at its best when eaten fresh, but it will also make good juice. The fruit generally ripens in early to mid-September, though the precise harvest date might vary somewhat from year to year. It should not be picked too early as it must mature on the tree to develop its flavours to their full extent. It stores well, see below.
Norkent keeps well for approximately 5 months in cold storage (held at around 2°C). Our notes on its storage capabilities are as follows: In October and November, the apple is still perfect in terms of flavour, texture and appearance; the flesh is white, firm and crunchy; flavourful and sweet, perfect for eating fresh. In February, stored in good conditions, there is still no sign of rot or mould and the texture and appearance are still excellent. The core of the apple starts to show some signs of browning. However, the flavour at this point has significantly diminished, and starts to take on some flavours from the environment. At this stage it is preferable to use the apple for cooking in pies or apple sauce. This is the longest that the apple can be kept.
The Norkent apple tree is one of the hardiest trees we have found for such a high-quality apple. It has proven itself up to zone 2. The tree is very sturdy, with a strong, rounded framework. It will provide greater yields if grown with a pollinator. Norkent also bears at a young age, so you will generally eat fruit one year earlier than with other apple trees! The tree is resistant to fire blight and the literature notes that it is susceptible to cankers (though we have not noted this problem ourselves.)
The original Norkent apple tree has quite a unique story. It appears to be a seedling from tens of thousands sent across the Prairies from a program developed by Agriculture Canada in the 1960’s.
The Norkent apple was born from a cross between the Haralson and Rescue varieties. It was originally known as PF51 before it was re-named Norkent. It was later moved from the University of Alberta as a whip and transferred to a residential backyard in Edmonton as the university lacked adequate space to let it grow to full size.
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!