Have you noticed the ease of apple picking these days? Little baby trees are lined up in a row, some the height of children, with apples waiting to be easily plucked from their short branches. But what happened to the ladders and strategic climbing of the past? Well, "It all began a hundred years ago" with dwarfing rootstocks, says Gennaro Fazio, a geneticist for the USDA's Plant Genetic Resources Unit.
Apple growers have apparently been grafting together the roots of one tree variety with the fruit-bearing branches of another for over 100 years now. This creates a strong, disease-resistant tree that bears more productive crops. (Now looking back at my apple picking adventure, those tiny trees were overflowing with apples!) But this is only the case in America -- if you're in central Asia, the homeland of apples, you still need a fairly large ladder to go picking. Which would you rather?
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