Preserving our apples
Published 21/09/2010 | 05:00
Preserving native apple-tree varieties, and other Irish fruit trees, is among the ISSA's most important activities.
"The collection of self-rooting apple orchards is probably the largest in the world," said orchard co-ordinator Matteo Pettiti.
Self-rooters need no graft, take longer to bear fruit, but are hardier and more disease resistant.
They also have a research collection and an Irish heritage collection of about 120 varieties, with another 160 varieties from Britain and elsewhere.
"There are gaps," noted Pettiti. "A book from 1780 talks about the famous Coccagee cider apple that we don't have yet. We are currently growing a couple of trees that might be the Coccagee. If anybody has one, it would be great to get our hands on it."
Some of the varieties in ISSA's collection are native to parts of a particular county and are bred for growing in just those conditions.
Orchards have a long history in Ireland. Cultivated apple blossoms found in bogs were dated at 3000BC.
Thanks to the ISSA, Irish variety orchards will be here for a long time to come.