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Apples a versatile favorite for cooks and growers

Apples a versatile favorite for cooks and growers

Apples in bowl

MU Extension horticulture professor Michele Warmund says apples are a popular item because of their versatility of flavors and ways to eat them. Apple producers in the Midwest can grow a wide variety of cultivars.

Across the Midwest, many farmers maintain apple orchards, and University of Missouri Extension horticulture professor Michele Warmund says the fruit is popular for a number of reasons, especially in the fall.

“I think apples are a very healthy fruit,” she says. “There’s such a wide variety of flavorful apples. You can find an apple cultivar that’s suited to anybody’s taste.”

Warmund’s main areas of research are high-density production systems for orchards and low-temperature stress on fruit crops.

She says apple producers in Missouri and similar surrounding states have several types of apples they can grow, from the more tart apples like Jonathan that start the apple season to sweeter options like Akane, Gala and Fuji, classic options like Red and Golden Delicious and Granny Smith to more modern cultivars like Ludacrisp, which has a tropical flavor.

Warmund says some Midwestern producers can grow Honeycrisp and Honeycrisp hybrids, even if that cultivar is better known as a northern apple.

“There’s probably 15 cultivars that are widely available across the state, that we can grow with good quality,” she says.

Warmund says apple producers are always looking for new markets.

“Some of the growers are putting in the cultivars that are good for hard cider production,” she says.

Apples that are high in tannins are good for hard cider production, Warmund says.

“We’re always looking at ways for our growers to expand on their markets,” she says. “That’s the beauty of apples, they’re suited to a multitude of uses.”

For people growing apples on a tree at home, Warmund says disease-resistant cultivars are a good option, such as Liberty or Enterprise apple trees.

Warmund says apples are a big part of American culture, particularly associated with going back to school and the fall months. And she says orchards provide a family activity.

“It’s such a fun family activity to go pick apples,” Warmund says.

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Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.

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