Found this swell YouTube movie on the Ba’Kelala Apple Fiesta in Borneo, East Malaysia. Tagal Paran, a 75-year old retired pastor and missionary, took over a government-sponsored apple experiment years ago that was badly failing and nursed it back to life, and now has 2000 trees. Along with his younger brother Andrew Balang Paran they run a guest house called Apple Lodge and host an annual Apple Fiesta where they serve apples, apple pie, baked apples, and other goodies.
Ba’Kelala is in the jungle about 2700 feet elevation and is cool by Malaysian standards, but still is considered very tropical. Apples should not be growing in such a place, but they harvest thousands of pounds of Granny Smith, Lady Williams, Anna, Tropical Beauty, Rome Beauty, adn Manalagi (Golden Delicious) apples much to the delight of local tourists. Poor roads and their remote location keep them from exporting much, as indeed their main means of access is regular flights of a Twin Otter aircraft to their central airstrip.
The trees show a growth habit typical for the tropics, with a bushy form with lots of bare wood; but they produce lots of apples. They individually bag the apples on the tree while they’re growing with paper bags for protection from insects, disease, and the hot sun, a practice typical in China. It works well, with better results than intensive and expensive spray programs.
I sent an email to Mr. Paran to see if I can get some pointers on tropic apple culture, and also to offer to help them import some varieties that may be an improvement on what they’re growing now.