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 Growing Apples in the Tropics 
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Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Riverside, Southern California USDA Zone 10a
Post Growing Apples in the Tropics
So you still think USDA zone 8 is marginal for growing apples?

Check out the artical linked below about the quandry facing apple farmers in the Batu region of Indonesia facing stiff competition from cheap imports from- you guessed it- China.

http://indonesianow.blogspot.com/2006/1 ... pples.html

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Kevin Hauser
Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Riverside, Southern California
USDA Zone 10a


Sun Jan 14, 2007 7:38 pm
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Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 80
Location: Riverside, Southern California USDA Zone 10a
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I also ran across this website for Farmer to Farmer, Vermont to Honduras chapter which links farmers in Vermont and Honduras to share knowledge. http://crs.uvm.edu/farmer/farmer.htm#Index

The Vermont Farmers have focused on helping Honduras with apple growing, value-added processing, and product marketing. One of the main hinderances to apple farming in Honduras is the poor condition of the roads which hinders distribution. I believe I read a report not long ago that this is a problem also in China (which keeps it from absolutely dominating the fresh market like it does the processed market).

Poor roads were a fact of life in pre and post-civil war United States, especially in the South. Their answer was to dry the apples as it was much easier to ship gunny sacks of dried apples than barrels of fresh apples (50 pounds of fresh apples makes 8 pounds of dried apples). When allowed to soak in water, dried apples plump right up and are indistinguishable from fresh apples when used for baking and cooking. If the only dried apples you’ve had were from the store, you’ll be shocked at the sweetness, flavor, and texture of home-made dried apples. It’ll be all you can do not to eat the whole bag.

Just about every farm had apples drying in the sun, and varieties like Horse apple that ripened in the heat of summer were especially important. Dried apples were collected by co-ops from scattered farms and brought to distribution points for export. This was a source of badly-needed cash (8 cents a pound by 1900) for small farms in the post Civil War South. In 1876, 2 million pounds of dried apples were exported to Germany!

Pioneers dried their apples on racks covered with cheesecloth and placed on the roof (it was usually the kid’s job to tend to them and collect them when they’re done).

Image

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Kevin Hauser
Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Riverside, Southern California
USDA Zone 10a


Mon Jan 15, 2007 2:38 am
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Joined: Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:32 am
Posts: 15
Location: South Louisiana
Post 
Applenut
I couldn’t find an average temperature for Batu but the next few days do not contribute to any chill hours. Here is the link to their weather forecast.
Karl

http://weather.weatherbug.com/Indonesia ... code=z5602


Mon Jan 15, 2007 5:55 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1155
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Kevin; some interesting stuff from the article...

[It's] "Easier to wheel a trolley into the local supermarket and buy big Fujis from China, every one flawless in their dinky plastic waistcoats. Or glistening rose-red Washingtons from the US, looking more plastic than real. Or crispy Gala from New Zealand." -- Sounds like home to me! Even at local farmers markets, the biggest, flawless, most glistening apples will disappear first! Seems insurance can no longer affordably cover the risk of 'average people' U-picking apples from orchard ladders. Or, the orchard owner loosing their fruit spurs to inexperienced 'city pickers.' I know of a marvelous orchard, in fact several around me who sell their amazing apple varieties for 25 cents a pound ... in other words - they're nearly giving them away to keep them from going to waste. One up-side of higher fuel / transportation costs may be a return to harvesting more local fruit, apples included.

"The sub-tropical areas around Batu are 1,000 metres above sea level and cool. It's a frost-free zone and two crops can be harvested year round if the trees are defoliated by hand to stimulate fruiting." -- Fascinating! Defoliating the trees by hand, I've not heard of that ... let alone two crops a year... When, or, would they prune?

"Elsewhere in the world apple trees are now planted on flat land where picking, pruning and spraying can be mechanised, and the backbreaking tasks eliminated." -- Now that sounds familiar... the steep hills that is; not much flat land around me. Must be why we've got all that competition from central Washington, I hear it's level up there.

"Manalagi is the main variety." and: "The Manalagi ('give me more') apple developed from the Golden Delicious imported by the Dutch, and famous for its long shelf life. It's a small white-green apple, slightly sweet and usually too hard for Western palates." -- I've never heard of it, but then it sounds like I can do a 'bit' better myself, like a Mutsu!

"An estimated 80 per cent of the Batu crop is juiced or processed to make dried apple chips and other products, including alcoholic cider - which sells at more than double the price of beer. All are marketed within Indonesia." -- We dry apples, and have gallons stashed away ... while we eat kiwi, persimmons (both homegrown), tangerines, grapefruit, and (I can't stop my wife from buying) bananas... Heck, we've got dried pears, persimmons and figs too ... guess I need to be reminded! The hard cider's a kick - literally. I know of one commercial venture, and two very accomplished amateurs; with all the extra juice I produce, only laziness keeps me for doing that 'value added' stuff. But then like the juice, I likely couldn't (easly) market hard cider either...

Good post, thanks.

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Mon Jan 15, 2007 9:15 pm
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Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:55 pm
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Location: Riverside, Southern California USDA Zone 10a
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Manual leaf-stripping is used extensively in the tropics, where as many as three crops a year is produced. Just after harvest the leaves are stripped, which induces flowering and fruiting. After that harvest, it is repeated giving the third crop. Some regions use defoliant spray instead of manual stripping.

This is easiest to do in tropical latitudes where the day length and temps are pretty much constant. "Low chill" apples such as Dorsett Golden are well-adapted to this, as they often bear two crops a year without leaf stripping, but they do it with Rome Beauty also.
Image

They have to fertilize more to make up for the stress on the tree, and prune and spray between strippings. You can probably imagine the fireblight they must have to contend with when the trees are blossoming three times a year...

In parts of Indonesia they whack the young trees 2 feet off the ground and then train the scaffold branches to grow straight out like spokes on a wheel in order to promote fruiting. I don't know why they didn't just espalier on wires, but they may have good reasons for this.

A large nursery on near the balmy coast in Orange County ( http://www.lagunahillsnursery.com) advocates stripping leaves by April here in order to get "higher chill" apples to fruit, but I've found that unnecessary as the trees do just fine. Also interesting is that their favorite new variety to grow is Honeycrisp.

The Manalagi was developed from Golden Delicious as was another famous low-chill apple- Dorsett Golden from the Bahamas. I'd think they'd be able to grow many more than that, and don't know if they stick to it because they are unfamiliar with or unwilling to do topworking, don't want to buck tradition, or others have simply failed. But you'd think that switching to a superior variety like William's Pride that combines good fruit and keeping quality, hot climate performance with disease resistance would interest someone.

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Kevin Hauser
Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Riverside, Southern California
USDA Zone 10a


Tue Jan 16, 2007 2:44 pm
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