MORP Email Campaign Arhive
11/2/2020 Orchards and Prohibition burn-them-a-myth-of-cider-orchards-and-prohibition
12/9/2019 Rediscovery of the Colorado Orange Apple the-elusive-colorado-orange-historic-watercolors-and-a-saved-wax-apple-collection
Historic North American apple (Malus domestica) orchards that thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with cultivar compositions unlike today’s orchards, are vanishing. There are several reasons for this loss: tree aging, cost of tree maintenance, and urbanization. Many groups have collected local knowledge regarding the history and horticulture of apples using both phenotypic and genotypic identification methods. Some of these groups have joined with scientists to form the collaborative “Historic Fruit Tree Working Group of North America” to facilitate the conservation of heirloom apple cultivars in North America through documentation, identification, collaboration, and education. Read full journal article at Plants, People, Planet…
By Amy Dunbar-Wallis, Gayle M. Volk, Alexandra M. Johnson, Adalyn Schuenemeyer, John Bunker, David Castro, Todd Little-Siebold, Lydia Pendergast, Richard Uhlmann, Laura Sieger, David Benscoter, Cameron P. Peace | July 31, 2022
The Colorado Orange isn’t an orange at all…it’s a remarkable type of apple, a late-ripening golden yellow fruit with a reddish blush and a hint of citrus flavor. And if it weren’t for the efforts of orchardists like Jude and Addie Schuenemeyer, the Colorado Orange and other rare apple varieties might have been lost forever.
The Colorado Orange tree originated in the historic Fremont County orchard planted in the 1860s by Jesse Frazier, the first successful apple grower in the Colorado Territory. The Colorado Orange, nearly forgotten today, was popular and well-known in its heyday. It was featured in catalogs and even sent along in boxes of the state’s finest apples to President Teddy Roosevelt in 1905. And in 2018, there was only one known Colorado Orange tree left.
Jude Schuenemeyer says that the Colorado Orange is not the only endangered strain of apple in the state with an interesting story. He and his wife have found many “unique unknowns,” varieties with just one or two trees left that they send to a lab for DNA testing. The Schuenemeyers co-direct the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP), and they are rescuing these rare trees in a cluster of heritage orchards in their care in Montezuma County. “Our mission is to work to preserve Colorado’s fruit growing heritage,” said Jude Schuenemeyer. Read full story at San Juan Skyway Visitor Guide…
By Deb Dion | March 9, 2021
In an interview with KSUT, Jude Schuenemeyer talks about why the Colorado Orange apple is special. He also gives us a few tasting notes. And he delves into the work to reintroduce the apple to consumers. He’s already shared the Colorado Orange with other growers, so they can propagate it and eventually return the storied fruit to kitchens and pantries. Listen to the interview at KSUT’s Open Range News…
By Mark Duggan | October 21, 2020
The Rediscovery Of The Colorado Orange Apple
In Colorado they have rediscovered a long-lost apple, the Colorado Orange apple. Jude Schuenemeyer talks about the discovery.
Heard on Weekend Edition Sunday
The Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project compared the fruit of a tree found near Cañon City to botanical illustrations and wax castings of award-winning apples to identify the lost treasure. Read the full article in The Colorado Sun. DEC 18, 2019 5:07AM MST
Using DNA testing in southwest Colorado, the Montezuma Orchard Restoration project welcomes back apple varieties like Winter Banana, Blue Pearmain, Ben Davis and Esopus Spitzenburg — and businesses are sprouting around them.
MCELMO CANYON — The apple orchard on Jude and Addie Schuenemeyer’s farm in a squiggle of a canyon in far southwest Colorado is a wild place. Turkeys gobble around on the hunt for bugs in native grasses that grow nearly as high as the gnarly limbs of the apple trees. Those trees are set hither and thither instead of lining up in typical tidy orchard rows. They bear apples that few fruit fans have likely heard of: Winter Banana, Blue Pearmain, Ben Davis and Esopus Spitzenburg…read the full article in The Colorado Sun.
PUBLISHED ON NOV 28, 2019 5:05AM MST
MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples collected by MORP and submitted to the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation for identification, sorted by name. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA Results_name
MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples sorted by tree ID number. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA results_treeID
- 58 named cultivars
- 34 unknown cultivar matches to other samples – likely named cultivars not in ARS dataset
- 103 unique unknown cultivars – some are likely seedlings. However, MORP took care to collect from grafted – not seedling trees – so many of these unique unknowns are also likely named historic cultivars not listed in the ARS dataset
- 195 cultivars in total out of 489 MORP samples
Testing made possible by a 2015 Colorado USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant award to MORP
Historic Apple Cultivar Identification Using DNA Fingerprinting Techniques by Gayle Volk, USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (article from MORP 2016 newsletter)
Apple cultivars are traditionally vegetatively propagated by grafting; many apple cultivars have been sold and exchanged over the centuries. During the American homestead era, apple trees were planted on properties as part of the process of cultivating the land. Cultivars purchased as grafted trees from nurseries often had desirable traits, such as large, higher quality fruit that could be eaten fresh, stored for extended lengths of time, or used for cider production. Trees planted from seeds often did not exhibit desirable traits for fresh consumption, and were instead used primarily for cider. Many historic apple cultivars remain available today as grafted trees in national and private collections. In fact, DNA genetic fingerprinting techniques have been used to develop a database of fingerprints of materials in the USDA collection for use in unknown cultivar identification.
An informal collaboration among the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, historic orchards of Wyoming (both through USDA Specialty Crop Research Grants), Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, as well as El Dorado National Forest is underway to identify locally important historic apple cultivars. This effort seeks to use known historic cultivars in the USDA- ARS National Plant Germplasm System Apple Collection—as well as selected varieties in collections at Washington State University and the Temperate Orchard Conservancy (Oregon)—as standards to determine the identities of unknown apples.
Leaf tissue from key historic apple trees was sent to the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado. A graduate student from the University of Wyoming has been extracting DNA from these leaf samples and will be preparing the extracts for fingerprinting analyses. Molecular markers, termed “microsatellites”, will be used to compare the genetic identities of the unknown (or tentatively named) cultivars to those in known collections. We hope to be able to identify many of the grafted materials that were previously unknown. This method of genetic testing will only yield cultivar names for grafted varieties; therefore, historic trees that originated from seedling sources will likely remain unidentified.
Publications that relate to this work are: One is a publication by Kanin Routson, Ann Reilley, Adam Henk and Gayle Volk titled “Identification of Historic Apple Trees in the Southwestern United States and Implications for Conservation” (HortScience 2009. 44:589-594) and another was published by Gayle Volk and Adam Henk “Historic American Apple Cultivars: Identication and Availability” (J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 2016. 141:292-301).