Feb 23, 2015Returning to the birthplace of apples in North America
The International Fruit Tree Association is holding its 58th Annual Conference in Canada's eastern province of Nova Scotia, where apples were first grown in North America.
Larry Lutz of Scotian Gold Cooperative laid out some of the history at the beginning of the conference. He said apples have been grown in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley since 1605, when Samuel D'Champlain first settled there. British settlers, many of them Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution, replaced the original French settlers, and found a maritime climate ideal for growing apples.
Fast forward to the 1930s, when the province' apple industry reached a production peak. Most of its apples were shipped to Europe at the time, but by the end of World War II most of those markets were gone, Lutz said.
Fast forward again to 1996, when Honeycrisp was introduced to Nova Scotia. Lutz called that a “turning point” for the industry. Honeycrisp is now the province's top fresh variety. Its popularity brings in consistently high returns, making the industry healthier than it has been in decades – and convincing the younger generation to return to the family farm. Nova Scotia's apple industry is now worth about $18 million, Lutz said.