The Roanoke College motto is “Classic for Tomorrow”—which certainly captures the essence of this story. We sent some grafting sticks from our yellow transparent apple tree here in Odin, Pennsylvania to the students at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. At the Roanoke College Garden, students practice sustainable methods of food production. They have more than 40 Appalachian heritage varieties of apple trees and were interested in our yellow transparent.
Here is a photo of the transparent graft, before it was taped up and waxed at the Roanoke College Environmental Studies Program’s Heritage Orchard. Notice the nice, clean match on that cleft graft. It has been reported to us, that as of March 27, 2012 (about a week after the grafting and photo), the buds on the transparent have not yet broken open, but they are very swelled, and their red coloration is intensifying—it looks pretty happy and healthy. And as of April 22, 2012 it was reported that most of the grafts are open—the Potter County Yellow Transparent is spectacular. It obviously thinks that this new more southern climate might just be a good idea: thinks its on a balmy sea cruise, after 150 years in northern Pennsylvania!
The orchard site selected for the graft plantings is about 18 miles from Roanoke College campus— at a place called Alta Mons. Here are the recent tree plantings of the lesser-known Appalachian and Pennsylvania varieties. The students have been seeking out and doing research on the individual ones— like the Chenango Strawberry, Indian Creek, Winter Banana and the Pound Sweet and the list goes on. Notice the fencing installed around the plantings to protect them from the browsing deer. All we can say at this point is Great Job by the students!
Post update on April 3rd, 2012, the transparent graft now has buds . Here is an updated photo of the transparent graft. Notice that the cleft graft has been taped and waxed to protect the splicing of the grafting stick taken from the yellow transparent— called the scion— onto the rootstock. The tape and wax protects the splice from pests and diseases, and also keeps the splice from drying out, all of which could cause the graft to fail. Also, notice the apple blossom buds starting to open on the scion tips indicating a successful graft.
Post update week of May 20th, 2012, “A little green caterpillar had munched part of it off—but it seems to be outgrowing the damage very quickly. Very large leaves—and obviously making a fair amount of new wood. The graft has been unwrapped—it is early yet (usually the tape is left on until next spring—but in this case, it is obviously well-healed, and expanding its girth rapidly—so it was removed so as not to cut off its circulation……
The apple trees on our farm, shown here are very old and had very nice apples on them last year. Dr. Jon Cawley from the Roanoke College shared the history of Transparent trees with us: “In Russia, in the Baltic, they call the whole group of “Transparents” as “Pipirovka” apples—(or perhaps Piterovka, being associated with the “early season” and feast of Saint Peter. ) Part of the oldest tradition was supposedly to take the very earliest apples, and to leave them as token gifts for the dead after the winter—or be given to widows and orphans and such who had such a loss in the previous winter, etc….. as a token of Gods love and forgiveness—and things about souls going to heaven after death and judgment, and being granted Mercy—(which might be also why they are sometimes called ghost apples or soul apples.)”
“The Brits are supposed to have collected and grafted the Yellow Transparent from there to Britain in the mid 1800s, and then it is supposed to have come to the US in something like 1870 via that route. But as close as I can tell, a lot of those from that grafted source are really yellow, really oblate little round apples. I think that some good number of our transparent trees in northern Pennsylvania may just be from a different, possibly more direct source—a good number of the wider Russian group are either more of that spooky almost Ivory color when they are ripe—and, or the apples are sometimes a bit more elongate and pointy.”
What truly fascinating information!