The Old Fort - Historic Apple Orchard

Find us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

Historic Apple Orchard

2019 Apple Grafting Workshop

Saturday, April 6,  2019 from 10 am until Noon

 Check out our Old Fort at Hesperus Facebook page for pictures from this event.

Orchard History

An apple orchard was established at the Old Fort in the early 1900s.  It is a combination of crab apples and traditional apples established on above ground grafts.  There are no records indicating what varieties are present. 

Nearly eighty, 100+ year old apple trees grow at the Old Fort at Hesperus Orchard. Over the last several years, MORP has grafted every tree and submitted leaf samples to the USDA-ARS for identification. Results confirm the rare, diversity growing here: Hibernal, Virginia Crab, Snow, Wealthy, poss Tetofsky, NW Greening, Old Fashioned Mac, and dozens of other unknown, grafted cultivars that are so rare that the lab does not have their match (although many of them match another in the orchard!). This work is made possible by a MORP partnership with Old Fort and a USDA Specialty Crop Grand Award for the state of Colorado. 

2012: Work began to identify varieties in the orchard by mapping orchard, taking pictures of trees, blooms and apples 

      Grafts were taken from over 80 different trees.

      First annual grafting and pruning demonstration held

2013:  Grafting and Pruning Workshop held in April

2014:  Grafting Workshop held in April

           Wildlife fence built around entire orchard with electric fence

2015:  Grafting Workshop held in April

2016:  Orchard mapped with updated GPS technology

       DNA samples taken from over 30 trees

2017:  DNA results indicate there are several rare varieties including cider apple varieties

           Click here to see all DNA results.  Our orchard's trees begin with hesp

2018:   Drip irrigation system was installed by NCCC crew

        Extensive pruning of dead wood

        Planted over 100 new saplings

                80 grafts planted next to their parent and 20 cider varieties from WA orchard

        First sale of cider apples to Outlier Cellars

 Click Here to read  "A unique, historic orchard returns to life at Old Fort Lewis" article published in Cortez Journal and Durango Herald in May, 2018

  

 Pruning Resources

On March 31, 2012 an Assessment workshop was held in the orchard.  With the help of Jude Schuenemeyer from Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, twenty people learned about assessing and pruning old style orchards. 

Click here for a short video from the Assessment workshop.

Recommended Resources for identifying old varieties of apples:

Apples of New York (2 volumes).  Published in 1905 by the New York (State). Dept. of Agriculture, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station under the guidance of Spencer Ambrose Beach, Nathaniel Ogden Booth and Orrin Morehouse Taylor.  Available for free download on Google Books.  The download is 26 mb and over 700 pages but a great resource.

Old Southern Apples, by Creighton Leigh Calhoon, Jr.

A book that became an instant classic when it first appeared in 1995, Old Southern Apples is an indispensable reference for fruit lovers everywhere, especially those who live in the southern United States. Out of print for several years, this newly revised and expanded edition now features descriptions of some 1,800 apple varieties that either originated in the South or were widely grown there before 1928.

Big Horse Creek Nursery -  Specializing in Antique and Heirloom Apple Trees.  Use resources on left side of main page to help you identify your varieties using bloom and fruit.