Suntan is a dessert apple, very attractive with orange-red skin over a yellowish base. It has intense aromatic, rich, sweet flavour, and a good sharpness. The fruit ripens fairly late (end September-late October) and can keep right through Christmas to February when stored correctly, in single-layer trays in a cold room or shed facing north, with lowish temperatures (not below 3°C), fluctuating as little as possible. In this way it will retain its unique flavour.
The flavour is similar, but better, than Cox’s Orange Pippin. It flowers late, and so it is suitable for the North. The tree is easy to grow, though care has to be taken with canker when grown in damper areas. It was bred in Kent in 1956 as a cross between Cox’s Orange Pippin and Court Pendu Plat. This is a triploid variety, and so it needs two pollinators. The variety produces its best characteristics if grown on M9 or M26 rootstock.
My personal experience with Suntan
We have been growing fruit and trees in this country since 1960, and I have been able to taste a huge range of varieties over the years. If you asked me which are the best eating apples ever raised and produced in this country, I would say Ashmead Kernel and Suntan. Both varieties have supreme eating qualities and good keeping qualities. But why, you may say, are these varieties so neglected, and never recommended by gardening magazines and the like?
The problem with Ashmead Kernel and Suntan is pollination. Without correct pollinators, these varieties will not be able to produce regular crops. Chivers Delight and Grenadier are both self-fertile, and they are good companions for Suntan. Chivers Delight, Grenadier and Suntan, planted together, are a great combination.
Strangely, Suntan runs the risk of disappearing from many nurseries. Today there are only two tree propagators who list Suntan, and this is due to the variety gradually disappearing from public view. But it is truly a superb apple, and I would place it in number one position, for its great flavour, its crispness, and the fact that after picking in late October, it keeps easily until after Christmas.
Of course, new varieties are appearing all the time. Scrumptious is a very new variety, very promising, with a great future. But it’ll take something else to knock Suntan off that number one pedestal!