April 20, 2011

Last fall, when I was pressing apples, I had pomace waste, which is the apple bits that have been crushed and all the juice was pressed out, leaving just the solid apple fiber. I ended up putting the pomace in some raised beds and throwing a little bit of wood chips on it to keep the vinegar smell from disturbing the neighbors. My goal was to compost it.

The weatherman was telling me this week that this has been one of the coldest springs on record. Yesterday, we had a bit of nice weather, so I was out working in the yard a bit. Surprise, surprise: I got pips where I had been putting the apple pomace. The seeds from the apples are sprouting.

Backing up just a moment, it takes two different kinds of apple trees to pollinate a flower to cause it to fruit. This means that each seed contains a little bit of DNA from the parent fruiting tree and the pollinating tree, and no two seeds are exactly alike. So if a Golden Delicious was pollinated by a Jonathan and then the seed from the apple planted, it would not be a Jonagold, but a whole different variety of tree. Think about with animals how there is a sire and a dam. They can have one offspring, breed again, and the second offspring is not a copy of the first one, but has similar DNA. If it helps, think about a litter of puppies or kittens to understand.

I have been told that about one seed in 300 actually grows up to bear decently edible apples, and the trees are usually 40 feet tall. To get around both of these problems, apple trees are usually developed at universities, and rootstock and grafting techniques are employed to ensure identical genetic varieties. Therefore, all Gravenstein apple trees were a cutting from another Gravenstein apple tree, and so on until you go back to the original “pip” or tree that sprouted from a seed.

Well, considering where these pips are, how long it would be until they bear apples, how tall they would get, and the odds of them producing decent fruit, it doesn’t make any sense for me to keep them, so they will get weeded out in the next couple of days.


2 Responses to “Pips”

  1. Wes Cherry Says:

    or grow them up for a year or two and transplant them on the side of the road somewhere when dormant. Who knows, you may discover the next great cider apple (The Candlewine).

  2. […] seeds were more likely to be spread. Humans, however, discover grafting as a way to clone trees. If you recall, apple seeds are like mammals in that two of them can have the same parents, but be completely different, so in that wild forest […]

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