Saturday, January 9, 2021

Gene Study: 'Elite' Cultivars Impoverish Apple Diversity

The genetic heritage of just a handful of apples dominates commercial production, according to an analysis in the science journal Horticultural Research this month.

Diagram showing relatedness of domestic apple cultivars
The top 8 cultivars (really, top 3) dominate the orchard genome

The authors ( Migicovsky et al.) suggest that the lopsided use of these "elite cultivars" by apple breeders "leaves the apple industry vulnerable to evolving pests and pathogens and a changing climate."

The study applies recent advances in gene-sequencing technology to the USDA apple germplasm collection. These new methods make feasible an analysis of this scope.

Friday, January 1, 2021


Abstract gray watercolor

I write about apples, not current events.

But we are all affected and afflicted by this terrible moment in human history.

To all of us, take care. 

And wassail.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Pecks of Winter Keepers

Bags of apples, from different orchards, sitting on wooden steps

This week I have augmented my hoard of apples with two pecks of winter fruit. With some gaps, I expect my supply to take me through to April.

The acquisitions are a half peck each of Cripps Pink ("Pink Lady" to you) and Blushing Golden, and a whole peck of GoldRush.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Gnarly Pippins

Gnarly Pippins is both website and nom-de-pomme of site author Matt Kaminsky.

Kaminsky (aka Pippins) was profiled this past fall in the Boston Globe

He brings an enthusiasm for wild apples in the spirit of Henry David Thoreau

Kaminsky's layered, meditative prose style also reminds me of apple-blogger Chris's Life of Apples (on hiatus, perhaps permanently).

Sunday, December 13, 2020


Granite plinth topped with carved apple. The visible part of the inscription reads, "This monument marks the site of the first Baldwin apple tree."

There are tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Gala trees in the world today. 

They are clones, genetically identical to the first Gala bred in New Zealand and grown from seed nearly 100 years ago.

Indeed, they are that tree, in that each is a  link in an unbroken chain of living tissue from the mother tree, grafted and regrafted onto countless sets of roots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Sweet end

This week marked the last of my Baldwins and Ashmead's Kernels.

The Ashmead's were in top form this year, the Baldwins not so much but still worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Last market

Shppers waiting behind a rope near signs proclaimimg the last market of the year

In Massachusetts, the day before the American Thanksgiving is the last for shoppers seeking produce and other goods direct from the farm.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Assessing a Slow Year

Lone apple on a snowy bough

The 2020 harvest, plagued by pandemic and drought, has not been a total bust.

The selection at farmers market has been limited. The Baldwins were not so great this year. However, Cox, Ashmead, and Stayman have been particularly good.

Alas, barring some last-minute discoveries, this is not going to be a big year for new apple reviews.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Absent Friends One and All

People around a table loaded with different kinds of apples
A tasting table at Clarkdale Farm in less fraught times (Cider Days 2016)

The season's traditional gatherings of apple and cider enthusiasts are virtual this year, in Maine, Western Massachusetts, and Colorado.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Some Markets End for the Year

Masked crowd at farmers market in drizzle with tables of fruits and vegitables
Soggy weather does not deter socially distanced shoppers from the last market of the year in Arlington, Massachusetts, yesterday.

This is the last week of the year for many suburban farmers markets.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Newton's Apple

The fall of an apple, historical records suggests, did set Isaac's Newton's mind to work on the problem of gravity.

A falling apple

There is no evidence, however, that fruit met noggin.

The pomological record on the presumed apple, Flower of Kent, is murkier. Let's take these in order.