Food - Drink
The Massive US Apple Collection You Probably Don't Know About
If the old adage, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” is true, American physicians will be sad to learn that roughly 322,000 acres of U.S. land are devoted to apple orchards. The world’s largest apple orchard that grows apples for research is located in Geneva, New York, and is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Covering 30 acres, the Unit grows over 5,000 apple varieties out of the known 7,500. Apples have notoriously complex genetics, so scientists hope to better understand their genetic diversity, and to potentially breed new varieties that are more resistant to diseases and climate change, have longer shelf lives, and perhaps even taste better.
According to the New York Times, Cosmic Crisps, SnapDragons, and the ever-popular Honeycrisps are apple varieties that emerged relatively recently through the breeding efforts of scientists like those at the diversity collection in Geneva. However, it can take roughly 20 to 25 years to develop a new variety and get it to markets on a large scale.