While in Israel I was hosted at the orchards and Nursery of Ben-Dor Fruits in the Hula Valley. Joseph “Seffi” Ben-dor is a second-generation nurseryman there. His parents were pioneer farmers there and both died of malaria, a common fate from the swampland the valley used to be before it was drained.
Seffi is a force of nature, and tirelessly farms and develops new varieties in the pioneering spirit of the valley. Of particular interest is a line of colored apricots called “Color-Cots” that have a burgundy red interior and an orange skin. He took a big chunk out of his busy day to graciously host us and give us a whirlwind tour of his orchards and greenhouses.
What he is holding above are an apple rootstock that was developed especially for hot climates. Prof. Rafael Assaf developed these at the Volcani Institute in Israel by crossing the local hashabi seedling rootstocks with dwarfing Malling rootstocks. Three sizes have become standardized, and I am in the process of importing them into the USA, a three-year process. Seffi propagates them via cuttings, growing individual trees in soilless potting medium. His greenhouses are set up to be able to do this continually all year by controlling light, temperature, humidity, and watering.
In return I’m to help them import Arkansas Black and Williams’ Pride, which should color up very well in any climate in Israel, from the Golan to the Negev. But don’t look for them any time soon, nor for the Hashabi rootstocks in the USA; things move quite slowly in the apple world.