Water and time are money if you’re a farmer. Trees are especially slow, and to get a new apple variety growing at a commercial scale can take years. It not only takes a couple of years after planting for fruit production to start, but it’s a long time just getting trees to plant.
The number of trees needed to plant a commercial-scale orchard is daunting. Even a small orchard of 100 acres needs nearly a quarter million trees to get going. And while it might take only a couple years to “raise a few rootstocks, thousands can take many years,” Washington State University apple breeder … » More …
Apple trees were among the first food-bearing plants brought here to help make life more bearable for those who considered themselves English no matter on which side of the Atlantic they chose to live. In an age when water was suspect—as well it should have been for only shallow wells were in use—any sweet juice that could be turned into fermented liquor was considered as necessary as it was popular. And cider—drunk sweet, allowed to harden and often turned into brandy—was the most popular colonial juice of all. Drinking vessels from which to quaff the beverage were as diverse as the homes in which … » More …
Trees of the classic apple varieties that were planted in early Pacific Northwest orchards from about 1860 to 1920 can still occasionally be found in overgrown farmyards, pastures, and even in suburban backyards where orchard sites were converted to residential areas and the old trees were left in place. This list of old varieties likely to be found in the Pacific Northwest was compiled by R.A. Norton from nursery lists in the Encyclopedia of Practical Horticulture (1914), edited by Grenville Lowther.
Source: WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. Images from the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection
A visit to Bishop Orchard in Garfield, Washington to make apple cider the old-fashioned way promises a fun time for all ages. Read more about the return of cider to the United States.
Around the beginning of the twentieth century, William Jasper Spillman, one of Washington State’s first faculty members, recognized that eastern Washington farmers were committed to lucrative wheat as their primary crop. Spillman experimented by crossing wheat varieties to find traits desirable for the Inland Northwest.
Variations didn’t appear in the first generation, but Spillman soon observed that the second generation of plants had combinations of the parents’ traits. He then applied a mathematical formula to predict inherited traits, to the benefit of the wheat farmers.
Many of us know the basics of this research from high school science: Gregor Mendel’s laws of inheritance, … » More …
The ‘lost’ apples of the Palouse entice a detective to sleuth for their rediscovery
Dave Benscoter’s obsession began innocently—as a favor to a neighbor, Eleanor, a retired missionary. Resettled near Chattaroy, and now beset with complications from childhood polio, she asked Benscoter ’78 to harvest some apples for her from the old orchard above her house.
“Every apple was too high for me to pick,” he says of his initial effort.
“One of the trees was 40 to 50 feet high. The trunk was split, and I couldn’t get my arms around either trunk.”
Determined to deliver Eleanor’s apples at some point, he started pruning … » More …
Bubbling a revolution in Washington State
It’s canning day at Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Tall, red cans of Rambling Route cider pass through a pasteurizing unit as they come off the conveyor belt of the mobile canning truck. Sold in four packs, the company’s first canned product is intended to reach the masses, perhaps even enticing craft beer drinkers with a moderately-priced, portable cider.
The label on a can of Rambling Route cider describes the journey apples made across the country to Washington: “When it reached the land that would be called Washington, the apple knew.” It knew it had found a home in … » More …
Danielle ’12 and Megan ’13 LaRiviere could sell iceboxes to Eskimos. Or coals to Newcastle. Even apples to Yakima.
Three years ago, prompted by their insurance agent father who bemoaned the lack of good snack food, they started visiting businesses around their hometown of Yakima offering to provide them with a steady supply of apples. Subscribers get a small cooler stocked weekly with the best apple varieties available.
From the start, their Apple-a-Day service got a “pretty good response,” they say.
Good enough, that is, that when it came time to return to school for fall semester, they bought a van, hired a delivery driver, … » More …
Florence “Flossie” Wager ’54
Flossie was my aunt, and looking for a name of a park I couldn’t recall, I Googled her and found your article. It was so fantastic and really captured her essence; your description of her smile brought a vivid image to my mind. It’s been very sad without her. She was my role model and encouraged me to go back to school (WSUV 2006–2008 English) and to pursue my master degree at Antioch University in creative writing. I graduated in December. Flossie lived long enough to know I’d be graduating, but passed before I actually did. I was one of those … » More …