Clark’s Ranch Mystery Apple


Part of the fun of messing with apples is their long life and link to the past.  In the middle of the San Bernardino National Forest is Clark’s Ranch, which the 1899 Clark’s Grade road is named after.  Clark’s Grade used to be part of the Middle Control Road, which snaked up switchbacks from the Santa Ana River to Big Bear and switched directions every three hours.  You can still clearly see the big switchbacks from hwy. 38 between Angelus Oaks and Barton Flats.

All that’s left of the original ranch are some cabin slabs, a couple rotting fenceposts, a squishy meadow that used to be a stock pond, and some apple trees.  A few of the apple trees are healthy and still bear heavily, but the sad example above is about to expire. 

The green bushy growth you see are only suckers from the seedling roots, which bear nasty-tasting apples.  The quality variety that was grafted onto it is that dead stick poking up in the air to the right.  Upon close examination I found a skinny twig that was still barely alive, and took a cutting from it and grafted it on my Pink Lady tree at home in August of 2006.  Last summer was record drought and in all likelihood that tree variety at the ranch is now dead, so I got it just in the nick of time.

This spring the cutting flowered and has a couple tiny apples on it, so I may get to see what variety it was.  I also grafted a few trees of it to plant at various places, and thus will make sure this exact tree will still be enjoyed far beyond it’s already long lifetime.  This is a ton of fun. 


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