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TREES AND SHRUBS
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SUNSET APPLE TREE
It has all the flavour of a Cox's Orange Pippin but almost none of the pest and disease problems. If you want a relatively compact apple tree which very reliably crops each year with the minimum of attention then Sunset has to be number one on your list. Its single drawback, the small size of some of the apples, can easily be overcome by thinning the fruits in June each year.
PARENTAGE OF SUNSET
One of the parents is Cox's Orange Pippin, the other is unknown. This variety was first raised in Kent in 1918.
APPEARANCE AND TASTE OF SUNSET APPLES
If left to grow of its own accord the apples vary in size from decidedly small to slightly smaller than average. See growing instructions below for more details on avoiding the small apples. When the blossom appears you will be very pleasantly surprised, there will be masses of attractive flowers, much more so than most other apple tree varieties.
The apples look much the same as a Cox's Orange Pippin, a yellow base with red streaks. If left on the tree until they are just about to fall they are sweet with a hint of acidity. Harvest them a few weeks earlier and they have a more acid flavour but still very pleasant. Primarily an eating apple, they cook well retaining some of their shape. They also make good quality cider and a particularly refreshing juice.
Sunset does well in almost all areas of the UK. One of its outstanding advantages is good disease resistance including canker and scab.
Another advantage of Sunset is its ability to regularly produce a crop year in year out. Even if the fruit have not been thinned the previous year you will still end up with a large number of apples.
Many small gardens have room for only one apple tree and Sunset is fully self-fertile so has no problems with pollination when grown on its own. It also pollinates other apple trees very well. It is in pollination group 3, see below for pollination partners for Sunset. Apples are ready for harvest from late September to October (see more precise dates below for your area of the UK).
Sunset has a definite problem with over-cropping which leads to many smaller than normal apples. The solution is simple, thin the fruits in mid June. Each tree will be different but Sunset trees can easily have half their fruits removed. Alternatively, as a general rule thin young fruits so that at maturity 3cm / 1in will be left between each fruit.
PRUNING A SUNSET APPLE TREE
Sunset produces fruit buds in the most common way, as a spur bearer. See here for more advice on pruning apple trees.
SUMMARY OF SUNSET APPLE TREES
USE: Eating, cooking, juicing and cider
SKIN COLOUR / TEXTURE: Yellow-orange background with red streaks
FLESH COLOUR: Creamy white
TASTE AND TEXTURE: Slightly acidic, full flavoured, crisp. Sweeter if left on the tree to fruit fall
FRUIT SIZE: Slight smaller than average
STORAGE: Two months
SUITABILITY FOR CORDON / ESPALIER GROWTH: Yes
TREE SIZE: Slightly smaller than average
REGULARITY OF CROPPING: Extremely reliable cropper
POLLINATION: Self-fertile. Pollination Group 3 (see here for suitable partners)
AWARDS: First awarded a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 1960.
SPECIAL FEATURES: Very reliable cropper, good disease resistance, tasty apples, good for small gardens and containers.
The average flowering time (optimum time for pollination) and date when fruits are ripe in the UK for the Sunset apple tree are set out below. If you have set your home town we can give you a more accurate estimate, if you have not set your home town (do it now by clicking here) the dates below will be the average for the UK.
Your town has not been set, the average main flowering time for Sunset in the UK is the second week of May. Fruit will be ready for harvesting in the third week of September. Click here if you want to set the dates to your home town.
Flowering and fruit picking dates vary according to the weather in any particular growing season so the above dates may well change slightly from one year to the next. The flowering date above is when the apple tree produces the maximum number of blossoms, it will also produce blossom, although less, a week or two either side of the date given.
BUYING SUNSET APPLE TREES
Sunset trees are readily available to buy from garden centres, plant nurseries and via websites in the UK.
In common with most other apple trees buying online from a garden centre looks to be the most expensive option although picking up a tree yourself from your local garden centre will give better prices.
Wait until November onwards and bare-rooted trees will be in stock at much cheaper prices compared to pot grown ones.
Remember that all apple trees need a stake to support them for the first couple of years and some require staking for life. So if you haven't got a stake and a tie for your new tree then buy one when you order the tree for convenience.
Sunset is in pollination group 3. It is self-fertile but in poor years it may benefit from a pollination partner. Suitable pollination varieties include the following:
- Alkmene - pollination group 2, self-sterile, eater
- Arthur Turner - pollination group 3, self-sterile, cooker
- Beauty of Bath - pollination group 2, self-sterile, eater
- Bountiful - pollination group 3, self-sterile, cooker
- Braeburn - pollination group 4, self-fertile, eater
- Charles Ross - pollination group 3, partially
self-fertile, cooker and eater
- Court of Wick - pollination group 3, self-sterile,
eater and cooker
- Cox's Orange Pippin - pollination group 3,
partially self-fertile (see here), eater and cooker
- Devonshire Quarrenden - pollination group 2, partially self-fertile, cooker
- Discovery - pollination group 3, self-sterile, eating and
- Dumelows Seedling - pollination group 4, self-sterile, cooker
- Egremont Russet - pollination group 2, partially
self-fertile, eater and cooker
- Ellison's Orange - pollination group 4, partially self-fertile, eater
- Fiesta - pollination group 3, partially self-fertile, eater
- Gala - pollination group 4, self-fertile, eater
- Golden Delicious - pollination group 4, partially self-fertile, eater and cooker
- Granny Smith - pollination group 3, self fertile, eater
- Greensleeves - pollination group
2, self-fertile, eater, cooker, juice
- Grenadier - pollination group 3, partially self-fertile, cooker
- Honeycrisp - pollination group 4, self-sterile, eater
- Howgate Wonder - pollination group 3, partially self-fertile, cooker and eater
- Idared - pollination group 2, self-sterile, eater
- James Grieve - pollination group 3, self-sterile, eater,
cooker, juicing and cider
- Katy - pollination group 3, self-sterile, eater
- Kidds Orange Red - pollination group 3, self-sterile, eater
- King of The Pippins - pollination group 4, partially self-fertile, eater and cooker
- Laxtons Superb - pollination group 4, partially
- Lord Derby - pollination group 4, self-sterile, cooker
- Lord Lambourne - pollination group 2, self-fertile,
eater and cooker
- Newton Wonder - pollination group 4, partially self-fertile, cooker
- Peasgoods Nonsuch - pollination group 3, partially self-fertile, cooker
- Rajka - pollination group 4, self-sterile, eater
- Reverend W Wilks - pollination group 2, self-fertile, cooker
- Scrumptious - pollination group 3, self-fertile, eater
- Sops in Wine - pollination group 3, self-sterile, juicer
- Spartan - pollination group 3, self-fertile, eater
- Tydemans Late Orange - pollination group 4, self-sterile, eater
- Winston - pollination group 4, self-fertile, eater
- Worcester Pearmain - pollination group 3, partially self-fertile, eater
A comment received from David O concerning Sunset apples is shown below:
"I was reading your article on ‘Sunset’. I agree with most of it. I think that it’s one of the best apples of all time.
I have found that the ‘Cox crosses’ Jupiter, Holstein and Rubinette all have some serious disadvantages. On this soil, Queen Cox does better than any of the three.
Sunset doesn’t seem to have serious disadvantages. In my experience, on rootstock M9 the apples are medium-sized. They become medium-large if they are thinned heavily. However, I am on a very good soil."
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: