The apple is a pome – a fruit that is derived from the fusion of outer flower parts and ovaries. Pear and quince fruit also belong to this group.
It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
Two pounds of apples make one 9-inch pie.
The world’s largest apple peel was created by Kathy Wafler Madison on October 16, 1976, in Rochester, NY. It was 172 feet, 4 inches long. She was 16 years old at the time and grew up to be a sales manager for a apple tree nursery.
Apple trees take from two to ten years to produce their first fruit depending on the variety and whether or not they are dwarf or full-sized trees.
There are well over 100 varieties of apples currently grown in Maine, but most farms grow about 20 to 30 different varieties. Currently, McIntosh is the most commonly grown variety in New England and remains one of the top ten most widely grown varieties in the US. The McIntosh apple originated in the wild in Ontario, Canada where John McIntosh selected it from the woods near his home over two hundred years ago. From the original tree, he and his family propagated additional McIntosh trees by grafting its buds onto rootstocks.
In Maine, other varieties are gaining in popularity as people’s tastes and eating habits change. Cortland, Macoun and now Honeycrisp Two lesser-known varieties, Black Oxford and Brock, originated in Maine.
Eighty-four farms produce about one million bushels of apples each year on 2000 acres. The average size of an apple orchard in Maine is 20 acres, with some being smaller than one acre and the largest growing apples on 320 acres. In response to growing interest in organic food, four apple farms in Maine now produce and sell organically-grown apples.
Most apple trees are propagated by bud grafting, a technique that joins two plants into one. Since apples do not come true-to-type from seed, and do not readily form roots on cuttings, they are grafted onto easy-to-root stocks that serve as the root system. Through grafting, one can obtain another plant that has the same traits as the original plant from which it was obtained. To bud graft, one inserts a bud between the bark and wood of a stem on another tree. Once the bud heals, the shoot above it is cut off, and the bud grows into a shoot that will eventually become the upper part of the tree. This part of the tree is called the scion. The rootstock remains distinct from the scion.
Apple trees and apple fruit are susceptible to a number of diseases. Apple scab, sooty blotch, and flyspeck are prevalent in the northeast.
A number of insect pests can potentially ruin the harvest by directly damaging the fruit and are present in nearly every orchard. Plum curculio, codling moth and apple maggot pose a threat to Maine’s apple crop year after year.
Apple growers in Maine regularly attend educational meetings to learn about the safest methods to protect their apples from damaging diseases and insects. They also keep abreast of the latest techniques in fruit growing such as pruning, fruit thinning and fertilizing.