The apple-growing revolution in Poland

2 August 2018

For many years Poland has been one of the top apple producing and exporting countries in the world. Polish fruit-growing, however, is different from other countries leading in that area. Although organized fruit-growing activities carried out on the territory of Poland date back to the XIX century, their major development took place only in the 1960s and 1970s. Reasons of that situation were twofold: on the one hand, private property and activity in the area of fruit-growing were allowed by communistic authorities and that was a guarantee of high (and real) profit; on the other hand, prof. Szczepan Pieniążek, a tireless promoter of fruit-growing, used every possible method to enable around 1000 young people from our country getting proper traineeship abroad. They travelled to study in the United States and brought back new models of running orchards and new varieties – that is how Mcintosh, Cortland, Lobo, Paulared and, most of all, Idared started their careers in Poland. There is still high demand for Lobo on the Polish market, mostly beacuse of its taste, by many consumers found delicious. Idared, however, became „the king of Polish orchards”. That was caused by relatively easy production and good refrigeration properties allowing for long range transport. From the 1970s Idared had an important position in Polish export to USSR and later to the CIS countries; on those markets it was known under the name „Polish apple”. The share of this variety in the whole apple production of Poland used to exceed 50%. Nowadays Idared is still a significant variety in our orchards, although its red mutations, Najdared and Idaredest, have become more important than the standard variety. Apart from having all the qualities of the initial variety, Najdared and Idaredest are distinguished by their beautiful dark-red coloration. That mix of features – attractive look and ability to maintain high quality during weekslong transport - make them perfect for export to distant markets.
The apple-growing revolution of the 1990s changed the cultivation structure of Polish orchards and introduced varieties like, among others, Jonagold, Golden, Sampion and Gala. Due to harsh winters causing risk of freezing trees and too short growing season Poland is not a suitable land for growing many varieties that are popular in the southern countries. Granny Smith, Fuji, Braeburn, among others, are not grown in Poland because of that second factor. On the other hand, there are many varieties that appear to find our climate satisfying, even beneficial. One of them is Jonagold –a variety of high quality and exquisite taste, discovered in the United States, popularized in the Netherlands, that finally became a Polish specialty. Nowadays we can observe high popularity of dark-red mutations of Jonagold: Red Jonaprince and Red Jonaprince Select. Czech variety Sampion seems to be another Polish specialty. What is interesting, harsh Polish climate gives apples of this variety unique taste, unusual for other parts of Europe. Cultivation of red mutations of Sampion – Arno, Reno, Reno2 – results in more attractive coloration of fruits while taste qualities remain intact. Polish growers are also fond of Golden Delicious, variety popular in the whole world. Through introduction of the Reinders mutation Golden Delicious has become widely grown, and its apples are not only tasty, but also visually attractive.
Searching for new markets, Polish growers have recently become interested in varieties grown in other parts of the world. They have successfully introduced into their orchards varieties like Gala and Red Delicious. The first one, Gala, has attracted great attention and gained popularity: it is extensively planted in Poland nowadays, and its apples are sold to different parts of the world.
In this point you cannot forget about the contribution that Polish nurserymen have made throughout the years, delivering nursery stock of highest quality. Thanks to their effors the development of modern fruit-growing in Poland has resulted in remarkable success.

Maciej Lipecki
President of the Association of Polish Nurseries

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