Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Kazakhstan Wild Apples

After posting my "happy birthday johnny Appleseed" article here and over at the Homegrown Goodness forum our good friend Jason Carty and some other fine folks were kind enough to pass some information onto me regarding some apple diversity having come from Kazakhstan which is the motherland of our apples.

Apparently Michael Pollan (spelling?) had written about this diversity in his book "The Botany of Desire" which I have not yet had an opportunity to purchase or read.

Anyhow, given the morsels of information left on my blog regarding disease resistance and wide genetic diversity of the "apple Forrest's" apparently dotting the land in Kazakhstan I immediately started googling for images and information and found lots of information, one thing in particular that I found was a source for seed and scion wood via a friend of ours at USDA ARS GRIN Geneva New York.

Phillip Forsline who was kind enough to share many budwood apple cuttings with me this season was kind enough to also speak with me on the phone regarding this diversity and I was able to place a request and will subsequently obtain some seed from the Kazakhstan stock planted a Geneva, now these will obviously all be crosses between the Kazakhstan apples that Geneva has grown from seed as the actual seed from Kazakhstan which was collected there is being held for Universities and Professional breeders which I find respectable for sure. Anyhow, I'll be receiving this seed in November and some Scion wood of some "elite" varieties come next spring. Some of these apple varieties will be pretty useless taste wise no doubt and given the plantings proximity to Malus Domestica at Geneva I expect some crosses will not contain pure Kazakhstan wild apple genes, but that just makes the shuffling of the deck all that much more fun!

Anyhow, the exciting news in all of this is that some of these apples are proven winners with supermarket qualities already expressing themselves in the wild apple forests of their homeland. Many have interesting disease resistance which is lacking in much of our domestic apple diversity (not really very diverse at all if you look into the history of the apple). And many also contain interesting protein compounds leading to the development of interesting flesh colors.

Pretty cool If I do say so myself!

If you get a chance this week do some google searching and read a bit about these wild apples and this diversity that needs to be saved!

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