Commercial apple production promotes growth of select varieties and decreases apple genetic diversity. Loss of diversity weakens the species and reinforces reliance on chemicals.
Objectives: 1) To determine the extent of market support for organically grown, rare varieties of apple, 2) to measure the value added by selecting heirloom apples for production and 3) to evaluate the potential for alternative small producer income via organic heirloom apple production.
The producer researched and toured several heirloom orchards. He then planted the orchard rootstock, grafted scionwood and purchased backpack aprayers for organic pest control. A poplar windbreak was also installed to protect the orchard from strong winds and to encourage habitat for beneficial insects.
The orchard, which consists of 12 acres, will be harvested by a local dairy until the orchard is in production.
Results: All grafted scionwood failed, due to inexperience of producer and a warm spring followed by a cold spell. The project will be extended to repeat grafting of the scionwood.