Two years ago I planted a couple of apple trees: a Macintosh and a Northern Spy. The other day I added one more, a Honeycrisp. Imagine my shame this evening when I read an article on the depressing lack of apple variety in today's world and noticed that all three of my trees are in the top 20 of the "most-grown apples" list. Sure, some people might suggest that those varieties are popular because they're good, but since you could make the same argument about, say, Justin Bieber or Ke$ha (who I'm told have something to do with current popular music). What kind of hipster farmer am I if I'm planting the same played-out apples as the major-label orchards?! Your favorite apple sucks.
I'm most disappointed about the Macintosh. I can remember when Macs were the go-to "good" apple at the grocery store, when everything else was Red Delicious, but now that I think about it the only thing Macs really have to recommend themselves now is their earliness: their taste is fine but not spectacular, and they tend to be a little mushy. And then I come to find out they're one of the hardest apples to grow without chemical spraying.
Even worse, the earliness itself is going to be a problem, because the other tree from the initial planting is on the late end of the fruiting period. That means that there's a good chance the two trees will never bloom at the same time and we won't even get any apples—good, bad, or indifferent—from either tree. Realizing that this spring is what prompted me to get the Honeycrisp, which blooms somewhere in the middle of the season. There were lots of other, better varieties that I would have preferred to get instead, but they were all sold out for this season—and I felt like I didn't have any time to waste!
At least Honeycrisps are pretty good apples: sweet and crisp (as their over-obvious modern name suggests), good keepers, and suitable for organic growing. Northern Spy is no slouch either: fine for cooking and eating both, and said to keep for up to three months in the root cellar. And my reasoning for wanting to plant that variety is still sound, at least: they might be the country's 16th most popular apple, but they're impossible to find in the grocery store and tricky even at the farmers market. That their relative rarity might be due to their "poor overall disease resistance" is something I don't want to think about. This farming business is hard, but at least when it's vegetables it doesn't take me three years to find out all the mistakes I've made.
Anyways, at this point my apple knowledge has been expanded and I'm already thinking about the trees I want to plant next year: Black Oxford, Golden Russet, Cox's Orange Pippin... Unless that's what everybody else is doing. Then I'll have to find something else. Blake?