MINOT  — John Bunker of Palermo, author of “Not Far From the Tree,” addressed the Minot and Hebron historical societies recently on the history of apples.
Bunker has spent more than 40 years studying and researching apple production with emphasis on the heritage varieties found locally. He said historical evidence shows that the first apples originated in the area of Kazakhstan in central Asia. From there they spread through trade routes across the Far East and Europe.
America received seeds from the early explorers, and orchards grew readily and spread west after the Civil War. The only apples native to North America were various crab apples, he said.
Up to the early 20th century most farms in Maine had some apple trees of various varieties. Since the beginning of the 17th century more than 200 Maine seedling trees have been named. Many of these did not produce each year so the transition to raising apples as a commodity livelihood dictated that only certain varieties that yielded crops every year be selected for market. The most well-known of these were McIntosh, Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious.
Bunker said to replicate each variety it’s necessary to graft a scion twig of that specific variety onto a root stock because the seeds would not produce that same apple.
Varieties originating locally include Briggs Auburn from the Minot/Auburn line and Black Oxford from Paris. Evidence also suggests that the popular Ben Davis variety, the No. 1 shipping apple, also originated in Minot.
The Hebron Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Town Office, 351 Paris Road, for a presentation on the transatlantic telegraph cable. The public is invited.

John Bunker

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