Explore the production of apples and the process of grafting. Students will be introduced to several varieties of apples and learn that each apple was grafted specifically for its genetic traits and resulting characteristics.
Preparation Before the Class:
Cut apples into enough pieces to allow each student to have a sample of each apple variety. Place apples in a bag and store in a refrigerator. Make sure to label the bag with the variety of apple.
Part 1: Exploring Apple Varieties
1. Display photos of the apple varieties for students to view. Ask students if they have ever tried any of the apple varieties displayed in the photos.
2. As a class, discuss the following questions writing student’s answers on the board.
a. What qualities make a good apple? (sweetness, crunchiness, juiciness, etc.)
b. What quantities make a poor apple? (storage properties, tartness, size, etc.)
c. What qualities would farmers look for in the apples they choose to grow?
3. Distribute the Exploring Apple Varieties worksheet to each student and a plate. Explain that today they will be getting the chance to taste 3 different varieties of apples based on the qualities they came up with during the class discussion.
4. As a class, choose four characteristics to judge the apples on based on your previous discussion, write those characteristics in the empty columns on the worksheet.
5. Place a plate on a front table to prepare the samples on. Choose one of the apple varieties to begin.
6. Tell students which variety they will be taste testing first, have them record this variety in the chart.
7. Empty the apple contents of the bag onto the paper plate. Insert a toothpick into each sample.
8. Grabbing the toothpick, distribute one apple to each student’s plate.
9. Explain that as they use the sample to taste test they will want to take small bites so that they can evaluate each characteristic listed in the chart with the apple sample.
10. Discuss the characteristics of the apple variety, discuss with students the best uses for the variety based on the information provided on the apple card.
11. Repeat steps 6-10 for each apple variety.
12. After students, have completed the chart have them answer the question on the worksheet below the chart. Discuss student’s answers as a class.
Optional Extension: Have students graph the class results of the taste test.
Part 2: Physiology and Production of Apples
1. Introduce the topic of planting apples and the video. For example, “many of the apple varieties that you just tasted are grown right here in Oregon! We are going to watch a short video describing how farmers are able to grow so many different varieties of apples.”
2. Watch the video How Does it Grow? Apples by True Food TV ( https://youtu.be/UWLmEh1HIBw )
3. After the video, discuss the following questions.
a. Why are apples not grown from seed? (Apple seeds are genetically unique. When a seed is planted, the
apples that grow will be different from those the seed came from. )
b. What is grafting? (A cut stem from one apple tree plant is attached to a trunk of another tree allowing the plants to grow together.)
c. Why do apple farmers graft their trees? (Grafting allows farmers to clone the apple trees that they want to
produce fruit from. Grafting trees produces the same genetic makeup in the new plant.)
4. Explain to students that many of the traits they talked about earlier are passed on to new plants through grafting.
Part 3: Whip & Tongue Grafting
1. Distribute the Grafting the Red Delicious worksheet to students.
2. Read through page 1 as a class to help students grasp the idea of grafting.
3. Explain to students that they will have the opportunity to practice grafting a “tree” similar to apple tree farmers.
4. Review the directions on page 2 of their worksheet using the diagram to help explain the processes before providing supplies.
5. Distribute supplies to each student and have them begin.
6. As student complete their graft, review their work to make sure the graft is accurate.
7. After students have been able to “grow” apples on their trees allow students to walk around and see other’s work with branch and apple placement.
8. Then, have students clean up their work stations.
9. Review key concepts using the following questions:
a. Why is grafting important to apple tree farmers?
b. How could grafting support the plants survival and growth?
c. How does grafting support and protect the environment and our natural resources?