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Re: [nafex] Re: Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling

I can't swear it's the same with apples, but with many old grape varieties,
they tend to have rather specific climate/soil requirements.  Not surprising
when you realize that they were selected at a time when they didn't get
tested everywhere before release - someone found a good vine that did well
in their area, so they grew it and raved about it.  When the variety was
eventually tried elsewhere, the lack of adaptibility was discovered.  In
some ways, having a variety for every locale was natural when there was no
shipping to bring in fruit from outside the area - you had to have the best
for YOUR area and you had to rely on what you could FIND/breed in that area
- you didn't get a lot of chances to get varieties/breeding material from
elsewhere.  Many of the old varieties were probably the height of what could
be grown or was available in their place of creation, but now that we can
compare many varieties and grow them in many different soils/climates, only
a few really stand out.  The rest are only useful for "historical"
preservation.  The old "Grapes of New York" has hundreds of varieties in it,
but I wouldn't rate more than a dozen as really being worth growing. 
Interestingly, those are almost all ones that were rated the very top then. 
Only those few held up.
-Lon Rombough
Grapes, unusual fruits, writing, consulting, more, at

>From: "Christopher Mauchline" <mauch1@aol.com>
>To: nafex@egroups.com
>Subject: [nafex] Re: Are your plants working for you? AKA, Ruthless culling
>Date: Thu, Dec 28, 2000, 6:54 AM

>    I agree with you from one perspective: many of the "old" 
>varieties from a taste/texture perspective are not worth saving.  I 
>had grafted a bunch of "old" varieties on a tree and then later 
>discovered at an apple tasting that most of them were mealy w/out 
>much taste.
>    But I guess I've read (and maybe I'm being bamboozled here), that 
>a large percentage of livestock varieties (and by extension 
>horticultural varieties) are rapidly disappearing (i.e. in cattle 
>almost all milk production is from Holsteins and beef from Angus as 
>both are superior for those given tasks ) and genetic variation is 
>being lost.  
>    Some of those varieties might contain genes that might be needed 
>in the future (maybe this is moot because of genetic engineering). 
>You noted that the station was now defunct, so those "varieties" may 
>be lost.  I have read that if a characteristic is available in a semi-
>domesticated or cultivar it is better to breed from that than from a 
>wild variety, as far fewer "undesirable" genes have to be weeded out.
>    Of course this comes back to how much of one's own property one 
>wants to sink into varieties that aren't "the best".  But I guess I 
>feel it does argue for preservation of some of the better older 
>Chris Mauchline
>SE PA, zone 6

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