A notoriously difficult task, for which some useful information is
when the trees were planted - thence to get some idea about what was available from nurseries at particular times/decades,
any other information about where the trees came from, and
how representative your apples are of their variety (a very weather/condition dependent thing)
There are hundreds of apples but, nurseries generally do stick to a much smaller selection, which narrows it down. Also, some once-popular varieties have now disappeared from nursery lists (eg Red Doherty, which was lovely and I last saw for sale over 20 years ago)
My guess for your picture is that the back RH apple is a Golden Delicious and the rear LH one is a Sturmer. The front ones, no idea sorry!
Online information about apple varieties might help, including the texture/colour of the cooked apple, as this does vary greatly and helps to differentiate between them.
The ones with stripes could be one of the gravenstein varieties. If they are softish in texture and sweet when you eat them, then that's very likely. If either types are sour, they are cookers.
The green ones are a bit misshapen for golden delicious, but are a similar colour. Maybe Oratia Beauty?
Have a look through Koanga's collection and see if the descriptions fit anything. Koanga
Except there are most likely 2 different types. Old trees were not commonly grafted to another type.
Geba wrote: My guess for your picture is that the back RH apple is a Golden Delicious and the rear LH one is a Sturmer. The front ones, no idea sorry!.
and maybe the trees are not fully ripe yet? You could try sending some better images to Andy McGrath at McGrath nurseries.
Thanks for the feed back - I did realise it was going to be a big ask!
Geba, I have no idea on the history of these trees but at a calculated guess I would say they are probably over 40 years old. The shelter belt around the orchard is made up of various gums, pine and acacia and from their height and girth, they would be well in excess of 40 years - in fact, they are becoming a problem as they are starting to fall down. The apple trees are probably 5 metres in height and to pick those apples I had to stand on the back of the Mule to reach the lowest branch with an apple on it. The pear trees are higher again.
Stikki, I wondered about Gravenstein too. The larger apple at the back is familiar from a long time ago and the red on it is a "bloom" rather than a distinct red. Kevin is pretty sure this is the apple he picked a couple of years ago and it was the best apple he had ever eaten - crisp and sweet. We have yet to try these ones because we forgot! Which sort of answers what you commented on Tony - have no idea whether they are ripe or not.
Mudlerk, that is exactly what may happen, it's just that I don't like grey areas and these apples (and pears) must have a name.
In the meantime, I'll go to Koanga and McGrath and see if I can come up with anything. Will also try eating them and let you know the results of that.
Old gardening books can be handy for getting an idea of which fruit trees were popular/planted & when, eg Yates garden guide, JW Matthews gardening books.
Old newspapers also had gardening columns with comments & advice, and carried nurseries' advertisements giving tree variety names & descriptions. Depends how determined you are to get to the bottom of the naming conundrum...
Once upon a time there was an apple tree near my old house which fruited very fine red russet apples - they had a lovely bite/crunch, a great taste, and stayed intact when cooked. The tree was along the side of a very old road (used between 1880 & 1940) and near an old farm, so could have been either a deliberately grown tree or the result of a random apple core.
I picked happily from it for several years and then alas it fell victim to a water supply pipe upgrade project, before I could grab anything propagatable from it.
I never identified the apples - nothing like any named russet I could find- but I remember them fondly and always hope, one day, to meet them again
you could try taking a really good shot of an apple when they are fully ripened and use google images to search. There are many apple libraries online with pics, no doubt you have tried them?
Wikipedia has a good database of apple cultivars.
From the time of ripening, i'd say the front two are Gravenstein - they are an early cooker/eater from Germany, dating back to the 17th century. They can be picked 'unripe', e.g. when still green, but already with red stripes, and are then crisp and juicy to eat, or they can be left on the tree until they drop, by which time they are a light greenish yellow to yellow with a pronounced red stripe. they are then also farily sweet. They are not a keeper, but they do cook to a very good puree.
The ones in the back i would peg as a Zimmerman - or at least that's what Koanga call it.. Mine are ripening now, and they look similar.
Ronney, i would be interested in scionwood from your trees - apples and pears - this coming winter.
I have an ever growing collection of fruit trees and love working out varieties..
Still buggering around here with apples and pears. Son tried one of the larger apples (the ones to the rear of the photo) and said they were tart but not inedible so not sure if it is a cooker or just not quite ripe. The pears are now starting to ripen - one I tried yesterday was tasteless in the unripe manner and probably needs another few days (week?), the other I haven't tried yet.
I have now discovered a persimmon and another oak tree.
Blueberrry, you are more than welcome to come and harvest some scion wood but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be smart to look at them while they are in fruit so you know what you've got? I would also like to think these trees will continue on. I'm big on "old" things.
In the meantime, thank you all for the input and suggestions - I am slowly making my way through them but not coming up with a lot of useful information.
Just in case you haven't seen this yet:
They have a fair few trees and have had some luck with identification.
Yes, they are members of this:
Sourth Coast Environment Society. I have propagated a good part of their apple collection already - aiming for more this or next winter.
I grow apple trees from pips (just-because) and now have at least ten of them doing well, in pots and in the ground. Never know what might ensue from those, always interesting, if not for me, then for someone else later in the piece. I also have several russet apple varieties growing and have just been able to get the first 'crop' after they have been planted for four years.
Lately I took a plunge and bought a 'Rough river' tree from Neville Chun at Trademe - it's an unknown, but a very vigorous one, and it cooks well. I hope it will like our place.
I grew apple trees from seed, leftovers from cider making, and they grew into nice "whips" ideal for grafting. I prefer to graft as that way you are sure to get an apple that you like, not what nature decides!