Why Are There So Many Different Types of Apples?
Believe it or not, there are over 7,000 apple cultivars worldwide, and American farmers grow over 2,000 of them. While you may see various common types at your local grocery store, other varieties worldwide may never cross your path. You might be wondering why there are so many different types of apples. The answer is simple: farmers and consumers want specific characteristics in apples, and breeding a new cultivar is often the best option.
Desirable Fruit Characteristics
While there is already a wide array of cultivars to choose from, many farmers want to produce a new variety with specific desirable traits and characteristics. For instance, if consumers voice interest in an apple with the flavor of a Red Delicious and the texture of a Pink Lady, farmers may decide to attempt a cross-breed between the two.
Varieties like Red Delicious and Fuji are excellent options for a quick and fresh snack, but they might not be the best choices for cooking or baking. On the other hand, cultivars like Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are ideal options for pies and cakes.
How To Produce New Apple Types
Combining apple characteristics is often the result of producing new apple types, which is why there are so many different varieties. Consider this breakdown of the apple creation process.
Breeders and farmers must choose parent trees that carry the desirable traits they’re looking for and take pollen from the father tree to cross-pollinate the mother tree. Once a physical apple grows, breeders collect it for the seeds.
Growing and Harvesting
Next, the breeder will plant the seeds from the cross-pollinated apple in order to grow a tree—it takes approximately five years for the seeds to grow into a tree that produces fruit. Each apple on the new tree may carry different characteristics; therefore, it takes a large crop to get the best results. Only the best offspring should move to the next step in the process.
After choosing the best offspring from the tree, breeders send them to other breeders and farmers in different regions and climates for further evaluation. This evaluation determines how the new variety grows in different climates, regions, and soil types.
Choosing and Grafting
Lastly, breeders choose which seedling produces the best apples and remove the bad ones from the equation. Then they use a method called grafting to produce the best possible apple trees. Once the trees grow and produce fruit, a new variety is born.
Patents and Naming the Variety
The person who originally breeds the apple type will obtain a patent to keep others from producing or selling the specific cultivar. In addition, they may name it how they please, but it must be different from all other apple varieties.
After learning why there are so many different types of apples, you may want to try your hand at developing your own cultivar. Believe it or not, breeding apples is widely accessible to anyone who wants to make the attempt. You can buy apple trees online to grow your parent trees and begin the cross-pollination process.