Local Agriculture

Discovering heritage apple trees in the County of Hastings

More and more people are interested in heritage vegetables and  some are discovering heritage apples. The townships along the Bay of Quinte  had some of the earliest apple orchards in Upper Canada. You can still see ancient apple trees in farm yards or along field boundaries.

                                                                                                   County of Hastings Historical Altas 1878

There is an ancient apple tree at the Pigden Farm in Madoc Township.  It is a Gano apple tree and although it is over 100 years old it still bears fruit..  Gano is a very old apple with a very confusing history. The Gano family say William G. Gano found this apple, a seedling, growing on his farm in the Ozark region, Missouri.a He began its propagation and added another to the long list of excellent varieties of apples. It is described as very hardy and has never been injured by cold winters. W. G. Gano himself said The Gano is creating a sensation, I think we have in the Gano something that will stay. The light yellow skin is flushed and striped with light red which turns to purplish red when fully ripe. The yellow-tinged whitish flesh is firm, crisp and juicy with a rich, tangy flavor.  It ripens in late September and stores very well. The mystery is how did it get to Madoc Township. 

                        Gano apple tree in full bloom at the Pigden Farm, Madoc Township. Louise Livingstone photo

There used to be lots of apple orchards in Hastings County some of them planted by the United Empire Loyalists. Most of them have gone. There are some working orchards like Grills Orchards,  Crews Orchards and Russett Orchards,  but others have been cleared. There are old apple trees in the tree lines along the fields and close to old farm houses. Some of the apples are delicious, but others are sour. 

In Toronto there is a community orchard project at the BenNobleman Park in Toronto. It would be a interesting project ot create a small orchard by taking cuttings from some of these heritage tress and grafting them on root stock. Grafting can either be done in the spring or by budding in late summer.  Save some of these heritage apples would help preserve the genetics of apples  resistant to pest and diseases.

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                            Gano apple tree in bloom May, 2011                                 Gano apple from 100 year old tree