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Apples

Malus domestica

Importance to Oregon

Apples were first brought to and planted in Oregon in 1874. Currently, apples are grown in both the Willamette Valley and Umatilla County. In 2018, there was a total of 5,000 acres of apple orchards planted. In that same year, Oregon produced a total of 170 million lbs of apples with a value over $55 million. Apples are ranked number 18 on Oregon’s Top 20 agricultural commodities list. In 1987, Oregon produced a record amount of apples totaling 105,000 tons of fruit!

History of Apples

Apples first arrived in Oregon on pioneer Henderson Luelling’s wagon.  Henderson Luelling left Iowa with his wife and several children in 1847. The family of ten traveled with a wagon that carried a variety of seven hundred plants and fruit trees.

Once the family arrived in Milwaukie, Oregon, they settled down and planted the very first orchard that was planted in the state of Oregon. If it wasn’t for Mr. Luelling and his family, orchards in Oregon would not be as successful as they are today.

Apple Varieties

There are many varieties of apples grown in the state of Oregon. The top two varieties produced are Fuji and Gala apples. Other common apple varieties grown in Oregon are Jonagold, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Braeburn.

Fuji

Fuji apples are large with a very pleasant smell. The peels of this variety are light green and yellow with a pink color over the top. Fuji apples are popular to consumers because of the sweet taste and juicy fruit. Do you want to make a Fuji apple even more flavorful? Some time in the refrigerator will do the trick! The Fuji variety was developed by crossing the Red Delicious with the Ralls Janet variety. Fuji apples are good for eating in salads, making pies and apple sauce, baking and freezing.

Gala

Gala apples are a bit smaller than Fiji apples and come in a variety of colors. The color of the apple is determined based on when it is picked off the tree. Gala apples could be a light yellow color or they can be a dark red color. Gala apples bloom early in the season and are available in the month of July. Galas last longer when they are kept in the refrigerator but are not a good apple to freeze. The best uses for Gala apples include salads, pies, sauce and baking.

Jonagold

Jonagold apples are large and appear red with yellow and green highlights. The apples are best used for fresh eating, in salads, baking and in beverages like apple cider.

Granny Smith

A tart flavored apple that is very universal in its uses. Granny Smith apples are good for adding to salads, making pies and applesauce, baking and excellent for freezing. This variety appears yellowish to green and are very cold hardy meaning they grow well in colder areas.

Honeycrisp

A medium sized apple that is juicy and refreshing. These apples are good for eating fresh, making pies, freezing, additions to salad and especially good for apple sauce. Honeycrisp are a beautiful combination of red with green highlights. Honeycrisp have become a favorite new apple tree to be planted in Oregon according to Oregon Fruit Tree Inventory Survey of 2006.

Braeburn

Braeburn apples appear orange or red on top of yellow and has a taste of fall with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon. Best uses of the Braeburn apple include fresh eating, additions to salad and baking.

Life Cycle

Apple trees are self-unfruitful meaning they require the pollen of a different variety to produce fruit. This causes a mixture of traits to be passed on to the fruit on the tree when planting from seed, resulting in unpredictable quality of fruit. For this reason, apple trees are most commonly grafted instead of being grown from seed. Grafting is done by taking a cutting of the rootstock on one tree and fusing it with a budded stem of another plant(scion). This allows for consistency in apples produced, both in quality and traits. An apple tree that is planted from seed will take 8-10 years of growing time before it will actually start producing fruit. A grafted tree produces fruit in just 4 years. Once the tree has grown to maturity, the branches will start to grow buds. In the spring, flowers called Apple blossoms will begin to bloom from the buds. Then, the blossom will fall off of the branch which makes room for the apple to start growing. It takes 100-200 days for apples to be ready to harvested. Harvest time varies depending on the variety of apple being grown. Watch the video linked below to learn more about apple production!

Harvesting

Apples are harvested 100-200 days after the fruit has started to grow, this varies depending on the variety of apple being grown. Harvest season takes place from September to late October. Weather conditions and the variety of apple plays a huge role in determining harvest time of an orchard.

Apple harvesting can be done in many different ways. Often times, harvesting methods depend on the size of the apple orchard. Orchards that produce a large amount of apples are often going to use an apple-picking machine. This machine grabs the trunk of the tree and holds a net under the branches of the tree. Once the net is up, the machine shakes the tree until the apples fall into the net. This is a quick and efficient way to pick multiple apples at one time.

Apples can also be picked by hand! Some apple orchards allow customers to come to the orchard and pick the apples straight off the tree! This is a great way to learn more about farms near you and pick a tasty treat for your family!

Pests and Diseases

Apples are susceptible to many diseases, pests and can be damaged by weather. These factors will not only damage the fruit on the tree  but can also affect the health of the tree itself. Farmers try to protect their trees and fruit using the best methods possible. Some farmers spray their apple trees with insecticides and pesticides to help protect the trees and fruit from bugs and diseases. Apple farmers will also take time to clean the ground under and around the trees in order to get rid of anything that might affect the roots or trunk of the tree.

Apple Scab

Apple scab attacks both the leaves and the fruit. This fungal disease causes small patches of yellow or dark green spots to grow on the leaves and fruit. The longer the fruit is infected with apple scab, the bigger the spots will get and they will turn brown. The fungal disease is likely to show up when there’s wet and cool weather during the spring and early summer months. This disease is spread from tree to tree. Infected pieces spread by the wind, rain or water that is splashed from the ground to the fruit and leaves. Apple leaves that are just starting to bloom are most susceptible to this fungal disease. Apple scab spreads the fastest between 55 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit .

Codling Moth

Codling moth is the most serious pest that ruins apples in the Pacific Northwest. The larvae eat the ripe fruit by digging holes and eating the flesh on the inside. As the pest grows, they push frass out of the hole they entered through. Frass is the waste the pest produces. The adult pests are most active in July and August.

Apple Maggot Fly

The apple maggot fly did not feed on this fruit until 100 years after they were introduced to North America. Today, this pest has become one of the common pests of apples in the northeastern growing areas. The apple maggot fly is the size of a housefly. This maggot develops inside the apple and creates tunnels through the fruit. This fly can be trapped using sticky traps around mid-June.

Stink Bug

Stink bugs are shaped like they have a shield on their back and are only 0.5 to 0.6 inches long. Stink bugs give off a disgusting smell when they are alarmed and that is how they get their name “stink bug.” Stink bugs live on the plants and weeds that cover the ground until the plant becomes available for food. Stink bugs do the most damage in the summertime.

Uses

Savory Dishes

Sweet Dishes

Fun Facts

  1. There are approximately 5000 acres of apples grown in Oregon.
  2. Apples are grown in the Willamette Valley, the Mid-Columbia Valley and Milton-Freewater area.
  3. The most popular apple varieties grown in Oregon are Fuji and Gala.
  4. The apple farm gate value as of 2018 was $55 million in Oregon.

(Source: https://horticulture.oregonstate.edu/tree-fruits-and-nuts/apple-production-oregon)

Vocabulary Terms

An area of land that is used for growing fruit or nut trees.

A type of plant that differs in characteristics from plants closely related.

A substance used to deter insects and pests from plants.

A substance used to deter insects in plants.

Two different plants connected together to form one plant.

The root system of a plant that is grafted to the upper section of a different plant.

The upper portion of a grafted plant bearing the leaves and buds of the plant to grow.

AITC Resources

Apple Science: Comparing Apples & Onions

Grafting the Red Delicious!

Apples to Oregon