Milford Trees, Inc.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Apple Trees of Kazakhstan

By Regine Vitale

In the foothills of Kazakhstan, apple trees grow that experts believe to be direct descendants of the first apple trees on earth. They were never cultivated and are neither prone to disease nor insect damage. Travelers carried apples from this area to places all over the world where new trees were grown, cultivated, grafted, propagated and cross pollinated.
While the wild apple trees of Kazakhstan grew undisturbed for thousands of years, they developed a strong genetic arsenal of mechanisms against diseases. The apple trees in the rest of the world, however, are threatened by a number of diseases like scab, mildew and fire blight and attacked by insects including the codling moth, apple-maggot, aphids, scales and mites.
Every year many commercial growers spray their orchards as many as ten times a year. Their South African colleagues use chemicals even more frequently. Since the number of health conscious consumers rise constantly, orchard owners are looking for chemically free solutions and hope that the answers can be found in the strong gene pool of Kazakhstan's apple trees. Scientists hope to use these genes for the development of a stronger, more resistant seedling rootstock.
To prove this theory will take time and consumers have to be patient. It will take at least 25 years before these new varieties can be marketed.