Core a big one for two retirees.
Self-described apple detectives EJ Brandt and David Benscoter have tracked down 10 varieties believed to be extinct — their biggest single-season haul ever in their annual treks across the Pacific Northwest.
But the men, who make up the nonprofit Lost Apple Project, won’t see the fruits of their labor this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Associated Press.
They had to cancel both an annual fair where they sell newly grafted “lost” apple trees and a class on how to graft wood to grow a new apple tree. Together, the events raise about $10,000, which help fund the men’s fall hunts.
Brandt, a Vietnam veteran, and Benscoter, a former FBI agent, learned the names of their delicious discoveries from botanists at Temperate Orchard Conservancy in Oregon, who identified the apples by comparing them to watercolor illustrations from the 1800s and early 1900s and by poring over written descriptions in old botany textbooks and reference guides.
With their double-digit treasure trove, plucked from rural Idaho and Washington state, Brandt and Benscoter have rediscovered 23 varieties. North America once had 17,000 named varieties of domesticated apples, but now has only about 4,500.
Their latest finds include the Sary Sinap, an ancient apple from Turkey; the Streaked Pippin, which may have originated as early as 1744 in New York; and the Butter Sweet of Pennsylvania, a variety that was first noted in a trial orchard in Illinois in 1901.
“It was just one heck of a season. It was almost unbelievable. If we had found one apple or two apples a year in the past, we thought were were doing good. But we were getting one after another after another,’ Brandt said. “I don’t know how we’re going to keep up with that.”