An apple a day . . .

Where did apples come from in the first place? Well, we don’t know just exactly, but the Middle East is suggested as the likely possibility.
We do know the Romans had several varieties of apples under cultivation more than 2,500 years ago, and took them with them as part of settlement.
Both the French and British brought them to the New World.
A huge number of different apple varieties exist now, probably more than 10,000 in North America alone. You probably are familiar with the common names—McIntosh, Delicious, Spartan, or in the States Winesap or Jonathan.
Almost all of the varieties we know were developed by scientists at experimental farms, or by private individuals.
But some come to us by a stroke of happy chance. One of these is the famous McIntosh apple. This was a tree found growing in a corner of the McIntosh farm, somewhere in the Ottawa Valley.
The parentage of this tree is unknown, of course, but one must surely have been the Snow apple—a famous variety 100 years ago or so.
Apples do not come true from seed, so in order to obtain more apple trees of a particular variety, nurserymen have to propagate them artificially. This is done by either “budding” or “grafting.”
In either case, a healthy, hardy young tree is used as the “rootstock.” A bud of the desired variety (say McIntosh) is transferred to the stock in such a way that the growing parts come together.
When the bud “takes” and starts to grow leaves and so on, the stock is cut away and discarded. Eventually, the bud develops a trunk and branches, and becomes a McIntosh tree.
The same idea is used in grafting, except that this time a healthy McIntosh twig is used.
Actually, you can graft several varieties of apples onto the same tree, so you end up with different kinds of apples on each branch.
Apples will live and produce for well over 100 years. A good tree will produce 30-40 bushels of fruit a year when in its prime.
In order for fruit to “set,” the blossoms must be cross-pollinated. This means that pollen from one tree must get to another. And this means bees.
Most orchards of any size have a bee industry associated with them, or near them.
The common apples do not grow well in Northern Ontario, but there are many hardy varieties which have been developed on the Prairies and these seem to do very well here.
They are available from nurseries in the west and in Northern Ontario as well.
Have you ever walked through an orchard when the trees are in full bloom? If you haven’t, then you have missed one of the beautiful experiences of country life.
The apple, Pyrus malus, related to the strawberry, the raspberry, and the rose, is our most important domestic fruit.

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