Apple Collection

Established in 1990, the Historic Orchard contains hundreds of 19th century apple varieties on twelve scenic acres. The orchard is open to the public from March through December.

In 2010, the Board of Directors approved planting a new orchard at Heritage Farm. The main impetus for this project is to have an orchard in a location more accessible to visitors, and to start trees on hardier rootstocks more suitable for northeast Iowa. The orchard will consist of new propagations of the best varieties in our Collection.


Apple Grafting

Apples are propagated in our orchard by grafting the desired apple variety to existing rootstock. Although there are many grafting methods, just two are used at SSE and taught in workshops at Heritage Farm throughout the year.

Bench grafting, also called 'whip and tongue' grafting, is done when the rootstock and scionwood are still dormant. Scionwood from a terminal twig is used, and the method is most successful when scion and rootstock are close in diameter, anywhere from the width of a pencil up to 1 inch. Two cuts are made in both the scionwood and rootstock, creating 'tongues' that interlock the two pieces. The graft is immediately wrapped, waxed, and stored in a cool, moist place for 7-10 days until the cambiums heal together. For step-by-step instructions on bench grafting, watch this video by SSE Orchard Manager Dan Bussey.

Bud grafting is also commonly referred to as 'T' or 'shield' grafting. It is done in late spring or early summer when the rootstock's bark slips easily and the cambium layer is growing rapidly. The scion bud is grafted onto first-year rootstock by making a T-shaped wound in the rootstock's bark and inserting the bud into the wound. The new graft is held in place with rubber band wrapping that disintegrates after several weeks.

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