Varieties of Apples by State 1915

Here’s some more historical info I ran across on a very rainy day. It’s from the USDA 1915 Yearbook of Agriculture. Over 700 pages of facts! The three images below of not so good quality show the percentage of varieties of Apples grown in states summarized from 1905 thru 1915.



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I had a Mammoth black twig and Arkansas black. Neither produced more than 3 apples a year. They are both DEAD at 22 years old.

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Mandatory Census of Agriculture are done every 5 years even to this day. But not as detailed on reporting varieties today.

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that’s a eye opener. Maine was producing nearly as much apples than N.Y back then.

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Winesap, York Imperial, and Baldwin round out Virginia’s list.

Yeah, if not for getting farm tags on my vehicles…I’d try to get off their list. The size of my personal garden isn’t their business so far as I’m concerned. They like to document everything.
From # of blueberry plants to # of beehives, etc.

Annual data collection is mandatory.

The USDA isn’t interested in your personal garden.

I have a collection of those too. Theyre great resources for hard/impossible to find info!

Interesting. Looks like Ben Davis was the winner in my neck of the prairie, might have to give it a try to see if it is anything special.

theres that joke that makes the rounds about it. i heard it from john bunker 15 or so yrs ago, recounted here by @BobVance. In Bunker’s version, the punchline was more like, “It tastes like Ben Davis, but damned if it isn’t the juiciest one Ive ever had!”

Its virtues were apparently bright red skin, it shipped well, and didnt visibly degrade, so it was favored for wholesaling via railroad toward points west, etc.

Yeah, that’s remarkable. And over 1/3 of them Baldwin.

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Good to know. I will still probably have to try it though just so I can prove to myself that there is something worse than commercial Red Delicious that was once heavily marketed! LOL

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Here in Arizona Ben Davis isn’t that bad. Lacking a little juice but all around not a bad apple. They also require zero care. (In this climate) 120 year old feral trees are still producing small but edible apples. I guess if you depended on apples for survival Ben Davis was better than no apples :slight_smile:

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Looks like Ben Davis had the lead here in Kentucky by a big margin also.
Never have seen one though. Must have been a good keeper in the cellar.

Early Harvest at second place and Arkansas Black at third…those I can definitely see.
Should still be high on the list rather than all the Granny Smith and Honeycrisp, etc.

And Red Delicious is still fine ripe from the tree here. Or even a month later at room temperature.

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Diane Flynt in her recent book “Wild, Tamed, Lost, Revived” spent a few pages on Ben Davis. It was the apple for Southern Growers to ship north. Large, red and a good keeper. But it was also the downfall of the many flavorful and versatile old southern varieties that did not ship well. Orchards that used to be full of variety were then planting big blocks of Ben Davis that become the money maker apple.

Ben Davis in its heyday was what Red Delicious become with its redder and less flavorful sports that took over the markets. Varieties like Early Harvest and Magnum Bonum which were special apples flavor wise but no good for shipping gradually disappeared in commercial orchards. Ben Davis also did really well in the Midwest states

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Very true statement. The apples varieties were grown for survival of people and their animals. These apples all served a purpose. Some apples were better tasting, better for apple sauce, apple butter and some were just for keeping all winter long. Like you said Ben Davis apples were better than no apples at all. With enough sugar they all taste good.

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Very interesting report from 1915.

Virginia Apple growers sold a lot more Winesaps than the number two variety which was York.

I believe the high numbers for York were a result of Apples used for processing. York is still a major Apple for processing and so is Rome. Rome was not a big Apple in Virginia at the time of the report, but it was the number one Apple in West Virginia.

I understand that Virginia had the some of the largest cold storage warehouses in the country at that time.

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I mentioned this in another thread, but Reed Valley in Paris, KY grows them. We’ve actually tried a few some years ago, but I don’t recall what they tasted like. I do recall they had a very white flesh to them, just like their offspring Cortland.

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