According to Washington State University, orchards across the country grew and sold over 735 different varieties of apple in the late 19th century. As of 2010, that number has dropped to less than 50. The Pacific Northwest has long been a staple area for apple production, and its many orchards, while not providing as much variety as they use to, still have many different apple varieties to offer.
The orenco apple has its origins in the Pacific Northwest. According to Pacific Northwest Garden History, cultivators from the Oregon Nursery Company (hence the name ore-n-co) developed the apple in 1913, and cataloged it as an “ideal dessert apple.” While not as popular today as it was in the first half of the 20th century, some nurseries across the country still grow and sell the orenco as an heirloom variety. The apple has a sweet but mild taste, produces a pleasant aroma and has a small core in comparison to other apple varieties.
According to Oregon State University, the liberty apple is a firm variety that is typically ready for picking in early October. In addition to being immune to apple scab, a fungal disease that can impair fruit production, liberty apples are renowned for their great flavor. The apples typically have an oblate, spherical shape, meaning that the tops and bottoms of each fruit are somewhat flat. However, according to Cornell University, they can also be somewhat conical. While the flesh of a liberty apple is yellowish as well as crisp and juicy, its skin is a dark, deep shade of red.
Like the liberty apple, the Williams’ pride is resistant to apple scab. According to Purdue University, its cultivators named it after Edwin B. Williams, a scientist and professor at Purdue who worked toward producing disease-resistant apples throughout his career. The fruits on a Williams’ pride apple tree mature very quickly and are dark red in color.
Gravenstein is one of the oldest types of apple that orchards in the Pacific Northwest grow. According to Orange Pippin, cultivators began producing Gravenstein apples at least as early as 1797, when they first appeared in written records. Most likely originating in Northern Europe, the apples are quite hardy and can withstand cold, harsh conditions. One downside, however, is that they are prone to diseases, such as apple scab. The trees of the Gravenstein are particularly large and fast-growing, and produce thick, dark leaves. Their fruits are triploid, as opposed to the more common diploid, which means that they have three sets of chromosomes rather than two.
- Washington State University: Heirloom Apples
- Pacific Northwest Garden History: Word Class Plant Introductions from the Pacific Northwest
- Oregon State University: Plant Disease-Resistant Apple Varieties
- Cornell University: Plant Sciences--Liberty, A New Disease Resistant Apple
- Purdue University: William’s Pride
- Photo Credit poire williams image by jacques-philipp from Fotolia.com
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