OLD APPLE CULTIVARS IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN - CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY CONSERVATION 
OF THE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES IN WARSAW

 

Marta Dziubiak

Summary

In the Botanical Garden-Center for Biological Diversity Conservation in Warsaw a collection of old historical apple cultivars was established. The main goal is to gather and evaluate in ex situ conditions a possibly large number of apple cultivars which were known in Poland in the past.

Since 1987 over 500 accessions have been gathered (195 come from scientific institutions in Poland and abroad, the rest from private orchards in Poland). Trees of 248 accessions grow in the collection as a typical orchard and young material remains in nursery. 
Every year local expeditions are organized and new accessions are brought to the Botanical Garden as grafts. All accessions are accompanied by passport data. Phenological observations such as start of vegetation period, time of blooming and ripening, degree of damage by scab and mildew are made every year. Fruits are described according to UPOV guidelines. Fruits of 178 cultivars in collection and 40 in nursery have been described.
Gathering of old apple cultivars and their maintenance in ex situ collection and evaluation are very important for our national heritage conservation. There is a necessity to protect old apple cultivars on farm conditions as well.

 

Introduction

In Poland at the turn of the nineteenth century apple trees grew almost near every cottage. A range of cultivars was large from ripening in early summer to late winter and from dessert to culinary. Trees grew big and strong, gave shadow and provided a shield against winds and natural site for numerous organisms.  They were inseparable part of country landscape.

In recent decades of the XX century a range of apple cultivars commercially available has changed and evidently decreased from over 150 to 40. Many of good apple cultivars which were common in Poland before the 2nd World War have disappeared. In modern orchards new cultivars are planted and cultivated by new modern techniques. They have good economic qualities, bear fruits every year but are similar in respect of some features. Trees are small, short living and demand intensive raising.

According to resolutions of Biological Biodiversity Convention (1992) in the whole world numerous programs of plant protection are managed, fruit trees varieties including.
In Botanical Garden-Center for Biological Diversity Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences a collection of old apple cultivars was established. Our goal is to gather and evaluate in ex situ conditions a possibly large amount of apple cultivars which were known in Poland in the past.

 

Material and methods

Material there are 385 apple trees of 248 old cultivars gathered in collection and 377 (mostly younger) trees of additional 300 accessions in nursery. Trees in collection are planted as a traditional orchard in six rows in spacing 4,5 X 3,5 m.

Collecting started in 1987. Every year local expeditions or visits to scientific institutions are organized and new accessions are brought to the Botanical Garden as grafts. Grafts are grafted onto rootstocks in nursery. At first traditional vigorous rootstocks were used (‘Antonovka’ seedling) but now because of shortage of ground semi-dwarf rootstocks such as M26 and M7 are used.

All accessions are accompanied by passport data which include: origin (if known), source and date of bringing, sort of rootstock, date of grafting, date of planting to collection and date of first fruiting.
Since 1994 phenological observations such as start of vegetation period, time of blooming and ripening have been made every year and fruits are described according to UPOV guidelines (24 characteristics were chosen). Since 2002 degree of damage by two diseases: scab (Venturia inaequalis (Cke.) Aderh.) and mildew (Podosphaera leucotricha (Ellis et Everh.) Salm) has been estimated. Documentation in electronic format is kept. If gathered accessions are unknown or bear local names they undergo identification.

 

Results and Discussion

Since 1987 over 500 accessions of old apple cultivars have been gathered, among them ‘Kosztela’, ‘Z³ota Reneta’, ‘Ananas Ber¿enicki’ and ‘Malinówka’ which were very popular in the past. Part of collected material (195 accessions) comes from scientific institutions; 85 from Institute for Fruit Growing and Floriculture Skierniewice, 21 from Research Institute for Fruit Growing and Ornamentals Újfehértó (Hungary), 16 from Byelorussian Research Institute for Fruit Growing, 15 from University of Agriculture in Lublin,  14 from University of Agriculture in Warsaw, 10 from Fruit Genebank Dresden-Pillnitz (Germany), 10 from Central Botanical Garden of the Belarussian Academy of Sciences, 9 from Ethnographical Museum Ro¾nov (Czech Republic), 8 from National Botanical Garden in Kiev (Ukraine), 7 from Station for Protection of Animals Barto¹ovice (Czech Republic).

A great number of old apple cultivars (above 300) come from old private orchards from the territory of Poland. A schematic map shows years and places of local expeditions which have been undertaken since 1990. Provinces of Mazowieckie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Podlaskie, Ma³opolskie and Podkarpackie were visited 6 times, provinces of Warmiñsko-Mazurskie and Lubelskie 3 times. Provinces of Zachodniopomorskie and Pomorskie were visited in 1997 and 1998, Lubuskie in 2000 and Lower Silesia was visited 2 times in 2002 and 2003.

A large number of accessions brought from local expeditions demand identification. Orchard’s owners often do not know cultivars’ names because the trees were planted by their ancestors or previous inhabitants like in the case of territory of west Poland. Some cultivars bear local names: ‘Buraczki’, ‘Pisaki’, ‘Dziadki’, ‘Kogutki’, ‘Kusaki’, ‘Gruchoty’, ‘Kapu¶niaki’ and ‘Talerzyki’. Some of them are already identified.

In collection apple trees start vegetation period at the end of March on average. The earliest are ‘Kandil Sinap’ and ‘Reneta Kurska’, the latest ‘Krótkonó¿ka Królewska’(‘Royal Courtpendu’) and ‘Mank’s Küchenapfel’. Trees blossom in the first half of May, first are ‘Spasowka’ and ‘Red Astrachan’, last ‘Spätblühender Taffetapfel’ and ‘Minister von Hammerstein’.

So far fruits of 178 cultivars in collection and 40 in nursery have been described. Trees reach fructifying period according to sort of rootstock after 2 - 8 years from grafting. The trees of majority of old cultivars fructify alternately (biennial bearing). Because of limited level of chemical protection against pests and diseases crop of fruits in collection oscillates from small to mean.

There are seasons when some pests and diseases cause damage unabling apples’ description, e.g. brown rot (Monilinia fructigena (Aderh. et Ruhl.) Honey), apple blossom weevil (Anthonomus pomorum L.) and aphid (Dysaphis plantaginea Pass.).

In collection apples ripen from the end of July  - ‘Virgin Aranka’, ‘Oliwka Inflancka’ (’Yellow Transparent’) till January - ‘Calville de Saint Sauver’, ‘Boiken’, ‘Grochówka’ (‘Grosse Bohnapfel’). Fruits of ‘Champagne Reinette’ can be stored till August next year in a common cellar.

Damage by scab and mildew in 2002 and 2003 seasons was small because of warm and dry weather. Spring 2004 was chilly and rainy so many trees had serious scab symptoms.
10 cultivars were chosen which were supposed to be the most tolerant of scab and mildew: ‘Antonovka Obyknoviennaja’, ‘Bramley’s Seedling’, ‘Early Victoria’, ‘Doneszta’, ‘Lane’s Prince Albert’, ‘Rozmaryn Russkij’, ‘Soländer Streifling’, ‘Spätblühender Tafetapfel’, form 13/96 from village Optyñ (Podkarpackie province) and form 11/97 from village Kamionek Wielki (Pomorskie province). The last two forms are not identified.
Gathering of old apple cultivars, their maintenance ex situ and evaluation is very important for our national heritage conservation. There is a necessity to protect them on farm conditions as well.

References