We visited the Horne Creek Farm Corn Shucking Frolic this October. Horne Creek Farm is the home of the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard, a collection of 400 apple varieties that were collected over 30 years by C. Lee Calhoun. It was indeed a beautiful day of frolic, with bluegrass music, clogging, farming demonstrations, crafts, musket fire, costumed interpreters, Southern cooking, and yes, corn shucking. If you’re ever in North Carolina the end of October, I highly recommend visiting this State Historic Farm in northern North Carolina near the town of Pinnacle, at the base of Pilot Mountain (known as Mt. Pilot in the Andy Griffith Show).
It has been a busy season for the Uganda branch of our nursery. They’ve spent quite a bit of time traveling to client’s orchards in Tanzania, bringing neglected apple trees back into productivity. They’ve also hosted growers from Tanzania and Ghana who have traveled to Uganda to learn apple culture by working along side the Uganda team.
We’re happy to say the apple trees are looking great, the training system is working well and the trees are responding. We’ve shown that it is indeed possible to control the runaway apical dominance and vertical vegetative habit that is typical of apple trees in the tropics and convert it to a calm, productive tree. While other people are just sticking their toes in tropic apple culture, we’ve dived in headfirst and have been swimming for years, and now the orchards are proving that we’re right.
http://www.kuffelcreekapplenursery.com Uganda site
http://www.kuffelcreek.com USA site
The good news is we got a lot of apples on the tree. The bad news is we got a lot of apples on the tree.
About a dozen varieties are doing this right now, with big clusters of apples like grapes weighing down branches. This is not good, as it will result in tiny apples, broken branches, and bi-annual bearing. The apples must be thinned to one per cluster, and at this point it must be done by hand. It’s a lot of work for what you get out of it, but part of being an apple grower.
By the way, our winter was almost tropical, but we still got a heavy fruit set on the apples, even the high-chill varieties. I’m not sure why some years are heavy and some are light, but we still have a much more reliable yearly crop than up in the mountains, which gets hit with late frosts and dehydrating winds.
In Uganda, that is. We’re one of the experts on the “extreme farm makeover” show, Shamba Shape-Up, premiering in Uganda Thursday on Urban TV at 7:30 PM. The episodes of this season filmed in Uganda will show there first, then in Kenya and Tanzania later in the season. You can see their back episodes at http://www.shambashapeup.com Let’s shape-up that shamba!
In 2006 my wife and I did a survey of the remaining apple trees left over from the pioneer era in the San Bernardino mountains. One of the key people in helping us locate them was J. Putnam Henck (“Putty”), who showed us all the old trees he knew of, including this tree and others on his family’s property behind the former Santa’s Village. We tagged and cataloged the trees, and took samples of the apples to Oak Glen for some old timers to identify. It was subsequently cut down by the logging operations that took place on the property in the ensuing years.
Fast-forward eight years, when we were contacted by Bill Johnson, asking if we could help restore the former orchard on the Santa’s Village property that was planted by the Kuffel family. I told him he hit the jackpot, we had a lot of information on those trees and the varieties that may have been grown there. He and Michelle were excited to hear this, and met with us to plan the orchard.
Last weekend we were up there and found that the stump of the tree by the road had not been sawn all the way through, and a sliver of bark had allowed a sucker to grow up from the main trunk above the graft. We cut some scionwood from that sucker, and collected cuttings from the other remaining apple trees on the property. We also went over to some 100-year-old trees in Twin Peaks and got cuttings from them of the other varieties we knew were common in the mountains at the turn of the century. We grafted 100 seedlings that will be the basis for the restored apple orchard on the original Kuffel homestead behind the pond. The below photo shows a bud from the scion variety grafted onto the rootstock; this single bud will form the new tree.
But don’t head up there with your picking basket quite yet, the trees won’t be ready for years to start picking from. But on the other hand, we grafted them onto very vigorous rootstocks that can easily live another century, and so they’ll be there again for your grandkids and great-grandkids. The varieties are neither rare or exotic; just the old-time ones you can still get in Oak Glen, such as Rome Beauty, Winesap, White Winter Pearmain, and King David. But the taste and crunch will be identical to what Adam Kuffel and his family enjoyed over 100 years ago.
Incidentally, we’re not related to the Kuffel family, nor is our nursery located in the mountains; Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery was just a catchy-sounding name. We’re sold out for the year too, so I’m afraid we won’t be filling any more orders. I will admit we’re in a very fun business. – Kevin Hauser, Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery http://www.kuffelcreek.com
I’m sorry to report that we’re sold out for 2015. I can recommend my good friends at Century Farm Orchards on the East Coast, and Trees of Antiquity on the West Coast. Wagon Wheel Orchards also does benchgrafts in Kansas. We’ll start taking orders again in September of 2015 for shipment January 2016. Thanks for a great year!
Kevin Hauser, Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery http://www.kuffelcreek.com
We are grafting orders for shipping the next 6 weeks. We are one of the few nurseries that deal with apple trees for Texas, Southern California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Alabama. Oh yes, we also serve Nigeria, Suriname, Hong Kong, and we absolutely own East Africa. So if you live in a hot climate with low (or even zero) chilling hours, you can still grow apples like these Lady Williams ones in this photo. Strangely enough, we also ship to a lot of cold climates, as we carry a lot of varieties other nurseries don’t. So get your order in soon, as once we use up all the rootstocks we pre-ordered, that’s it for the season.
You can see our varieties, books on growing apples in hot climates and the tropics, and ordering information at http://www.kuffelcreek.com/applenursery.htm Also check out our Uganda apple nursery on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kuffelcreekapplenursery
Sorry about the lack of postings lately, the Uganda branch of the nursery has been busy and most of my postings have been on it’s Facebook page. You can see these updates at http://www.facebook.com/kuffelcreekapplenursery
Things are gearing up for the 2015 apple grafting season, I’m organizing scionwood, and putting in orders for bulk quantities of the more popular varieties. We should start shipping the beginning of February, so if you’re thinking of ordering, get it in soon. You can order in the USA at http://www.kuffelcreek.com and in Uganda at http://www.kuffelcreekapplenursery.com