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TREES AND SHRUBS
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PINK LADY APPLE TREE
I explain all about it in more detail below but if anyone tries to sell you a "Pink Lady" apple tree then beware, they are either breaking the law or just pulling the wool over your eyes.
So how come they sell them in the shops? You are in fact being sold a "Cripps Pink" apple which is then marketed under the Pink Lady brand.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PINK LADY APPLE
The Pink Lady brand is marketed by Apple and Pear Australia (Apal) in a unique and very clever way. In the early 1990's they decided to sell Cripps Pink apples under the Pink Lady name. In order to make the Pink Lady brand a success they would only allow it to be sold if controlled conditions were met. The apples had to be of a specific sweetness, they also had to meet specific colouring criteria. In addition to these and other physical attributes the apples could only be sold under the Pink Lady brand if they were in perfect condition. They impose these conditions very strictly - after all, when was the last time you saw a Pink Lady apple for sale which was bruised, hardly ever I bet.
On top of the above conditions the Pink Lady brand has been marketed in a very clever fashion and the growers have to pay a royalty to fund all that marketing effort. That's one reason why Pink Lady apples tend to be more expensive compared to other apples. You are being sold the idea of perfect flavour and looks when you buy a Pink Lady apple tree. The reality is though, that you are being sold a Cripps Pink apple tree.
In the UK, Pink Lady apples were first introduced to the public by Marks and Spencer whose customers were more than willing to pay a higher price for an apple they perceived to be of high quality. Clever marketing reinforced this impression in the minds of the British public. Currently Pink Lady apples are the third most popular in the UK.
Over the last 15 years or so several genetic mutations have occurred in the Cripps Pink apple variety, many of them as a result of growing the apples for the Pink Lady brand. Apal invests considerable money and effort into developing and testing these mutations with a view to increasing the areas in the world where their apples can successfully be grown.
CAN I GROW A PINK LADY APPLE TREE IN THE UK?
If you can find a Cripps Pink apple tree for sale in the UK then you can grow it, absolutely no problems with that. The catch though is that a Cripps Pink apple requires roughly 200 days of sunshine to mature and that just doesn't happen in the UK!
Even if you could find a part of the UK where that amount of sunshine was available you would still face the problem of producing an apple of the correct colour. That rosy red skin of the Cripps Pink apple you see when buy a Pink Lady is only produced in the last month of its growth and it needs to be warm and sunny during that month for the perfect colour. There is most definitely no area of the UK which has sufficient warmth or sunshine during November / early December in order to produce the correct colour.
For those that like to experiment, you can also forget the idea of growing a Pink Lady apple tree (or, if you prefer a Cripps Pink) from a pip. Unfortunately the Cripps Pink is self-sterile which means it needs another nearby apple tree to pollinate it. So any pip you find in a Pink Lady apple tree will be a cross between a Cripps Pink and whatever other apple tree pollinated it. The result will be a tree which produces apples (if indeed it produces any) that taste nothing like a Cripps Pink.
WHY DON'T SUPERMARKETS SELL CRIPPS PINK APPLES?
The supermarkets have already tried this and failed. Both Morrisons and Adsa sold Cripps Pink apples many years ago, sometimes directly alongside Pink Lady apples but the public didn't take the bait. The brand name built up by Apal for the Pink Lady was so strong that consumers would rather pay the higher price than buy a much cheaper Cripps Pink.
The parents of Cripps Pink are Golden Delicious and Lady Williams. It was first bred by John Cripps in Western Australia.
APPEARANCE, TASTE AND CHARACTERISTICS OF PINK LADY / CRIPPS PINK
Cripps Pink is in pollination group 3 / C and is self-sterile requiring another suitable pollination partner nearby. The apples are rosy red with areas of green. The flesh is very white, crispy, lots of juice with a very good balance of acidity and sweetness.
It needs very specific growing conditions. A vey long season of sunny and warm weather with the last month also being warm and sunny in order to fully develop the red skin colouring. This is a vigorous tree which needs to be grown on poor soil to prevent too much foliage and new growth being formed.
The full list of apple tree varieties which we have reviewed is listed below. Select any one of them and then click the "More Information" button to be taken to the in depth review:
ALTERNATIVES TO PINK LADY APPLES
There are many alternatives to Pink Lady apples which grow exceptionally well in the UK and taste at least as good, in many cases, better. If you are looking for a crisp, slightly sweet apple variety which looks similar we would suggest three specific eating varieties:
Fiesta - very well suited to the UK climate, far more disease resistant, exceptional flavour and a white, crispy and juicy flesh.
Katy - one of the best looking apples of all time, rosy red all over. Crisp and slightly sweet, these are smallish apples which kids love. Can also be used as an excellent cooker.
- Another multi-purpose apple for eating and cooking as well as juice.
White, crisp flesh and very tasty. A good choice, not only for open ground,
but also containers.