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Kansas Apple Exploration
Apples are so iconic in the world of fruit and history that it's hard to imagine not growing them. But most apples are clones of trees from times long past. By grafting these trees, we propagate a being that once grew in a climate and place much different from ours today. This makes for a challenging existence for both the apple and the gardener.
That is why we decided to begin a major apple exploration project: to find the most suitable cultivars for our region and to eventually begin seedling trials using seed from the best specimens found.
In 2021 and 2022 we grafted over 130 apple varieties.
Our goal was to find apples which could be grown organically, using "no spray" methods. A primary concern in this region is fire blight, a disease which can kill susceptible apple trees. Because of this, the most fire blight resistant apple varieties were selected. We are in the early stages of this project, and so far we have have grown the grafted apple trees in our nursery beds for one year. This spring we began planting trees into the field, where we will evaluate their performance.
A desire for hardy, low maintenance trees lead us to experiment with two apple rootstocks for this project: M111 (Malling-Merton 111) and Antanovka, a standard sized seedling roostock.
As the project matures, we will begin controlled pollination and seed collection. Seed will be grown out and seedlings will be further selected for vigor, absence of disease and overall vitality.