As the author of an exhaustive history of pomology (apple growing) in the state of Maine, I must comment concerning a point or two in a recent Sun Journal front-page article titled “Apple surprise.” (Aug. 23)

Particularly troubling was the recommendation from a state specialist suggesting the destruction of the neglected orchard. This shows an appalling lack of understanding of plant biology, particularly regarding the apple tree.

Broadly speaking, almost any old, long-neglected apple tree may, over the relatively short period of two or three years, be rejuvenated and brought back into full fruit production by knowledgeable pruning and feeding.

The specialist gave the worst possible advice. I can’t imagine why. I can only guess that lack of practical knowledge had much to do with it, regardless of that person’s education.

Why destroy such trees, especially when they might be capable of producing one of the more than 700 wonderfully delicious old varieties that cannot be found in modern supermarkets?

I applaud the sensitivity of such folks as the Barkers, who come from away and seek to work with what they find here, instead of seeking to change catastrophically and forever a very special way of historic Maine life, thereby replacing our ancient, gentle and quite unique rural heritage with something inimical to all of us natives.

Incidentally, apples (which are not native to North America) have grown on Maine soil for upwards of 500 years.

George Stilphen, South Paris


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