Title: Apple for the 21st Century
Author: Warren Manhart
Strong points: With a title that would lead one to think this book is oriented mainly toward the modern commercial apple industry and the super market apple, Apples for the 21st Century delves into a pleasantly surprising, broad-based list of both heirloom and modern varieties. It is wonderful to see that old-time varieties have survived the judgement of the author and many taste testers to remain worthy of inclusion. Interestingly, many varieties that were new or just coming into their own at the time of this book’s creation have likewise stood the test of time and are just as much winners today as they were 20 years ago.
Weaknesses: The apples grown and tested were done so under the limited geographic area of the Pacific Northwest. Hence, some selections may behave quite differently in other climates. The author is fair and quite up-front in pointing this out.
I would concur with the vast majority of the recommended apple varieties, barring one. I cannot understand why Red Delicious is included. Other than storing well and looking pretty, the modern Red Delicious is a single purpose apple with so little to offer beyond a good marketing campaign.
Some of the statistics and data may not be particularly of interest to the home orchardist. Many of the nursery sources are outdated and even out of business. Indeed the book itself appears to be out of print. However, used copies are available through online sources.
Green thumbs rating:
Apples for the 21st Century has actually been in my library since before the twenty-first century. I picked it up again now to see how it held up in comparison to the recent crop of books on apple varieties, both modern and heirloom. Indeed it appears to have withstood the test of time quite well.
Although, just shy of 20 years old, the predictions made by Warren Manhart in Apples for the 21st Century have endured. Of the thousands of available choices, Mr. Manhart initially whittled them down first by focusing only on those rated generally “very good” to “best” by S. A. Beach, Booth, and Taylor in the classic Apples of New York. Indeed, no sense in testing those already rated less than stellar by other esteemed horticulturists. Eventually he settled on 50 varieties that met the criteria of superior taste, keeping-quality, and annual bearing under the climactic conditions of his Pacific northwest location. Otherl varieties for more severe climates are also mentioned, just not described in detail.
Additional useful sections of the book discuss bloom periods, rootstocks, and variety growth habits. All of these are important factors to consider when initially planning your home orchard. You will find much food for thought in Apples for the 21st Century and should consider it a worthy addition to your pomological library. Finally, Mr. Manhart does tell you what his favorite 4 apple varieties are and why, but rather than be a spoiler, I encourage you to seek this book out and learn the answers for yourself.
ISBN: 0–964-8417–0-3 (Hard cover)
# of pages: 286 pgs.
Photos: yes, 21 page insert
Appendix: Yes, although numerous nursery sources are no longer in business. Very limited glossary of terms
Publisher: North American Tree Company DBA Portland Nursery
Publication Date: 1995
Price: $29.95 (This book may be out of print, but used copies appear to be available online)