Enterprise on the fruit tree meadow

Enterprise on the fruit tree meadow

It tastes peculiar, the rohrles pear. No wonder. It's not meant to be eaten raw either. The small french local variety is an old cooking pear for the winter. It was considered a minor sensation when it was discovered during the bavarian-wide orchard mapping project led by martin degenbeck for the past ten years. "We thought they had disappeared for 100 years", says the employee of the bavarian state institute for viticulture and horticulture (LWG) in veitshochheim.
Only elderly people from lower franconia still have a memory of how precious fruits are. In the days when there was no mass-produced fruit from chile or new zealand in the supermarket, it was a lot of work to harvest apples and pears, to process them into compote or juice, or to cellar them. "But now, at this time of year, things were looking bleak in the basement as well", says degenbeck. There was a wait until the new fruits were ripe. Things are different today. At any time there is fruit or fruit juices of all kinds. The international commodity glut in this sector has led to the disappearance of orchard stands and old varieties. And still further disappear.

The care is muhsam

But mechanization in agriculture is also gradually killing off the rural meadow orchard. There are fewer and fewer smallholder mixed farms with a high degree of self-sufficiency. Whoever manages an agricultural business today works in a specialized and intensive manner. Who can still afford to maintain a meadow orchard?? It's quite tedious, says martin degenbeck: "200 to 300 hours of work are required per hectare per year." For just about 100 trees. 1000 trees grow on the same flat in a lower franconian estate. Harvesting them in such a facility is much easier than harvesting them in the meadow.
Tourists, however, love it when fruit trees cluster on the outskirts of towns or spare meadows. Tourism is also a "tangible" factor for the orchard researcher reason for preserving meadow orchards. The studies led by degenbeck serve not least to analyze the properties of old varieties to determine whether they are suitable for the production of distinctive regional products: "up to 20 percent are well usable." For example for noble brandy. There are now 50 single-variety pome fruit brands in lower franconia. Christoph rosenberger from schollkrippen burns the "lohrer rambur" this way, jochen fischer from wiesentheid produces brandy of rubinette.

Assignment can be difficult

Not every old apple tree can be assigned to a variety with one hundred percent certainty. But the pomologists cooperating with the project are getting better and better. Only 70 percent of the fruit varieties were clearly identified during the LWG's initial mapping work on lake constance. When the district of wurzburg was scrutinized for the second project, the determination rate was already over 75 percent. Currently, the varieties in allgau are being mapped under degenbeck's aegis. The ratio is now 83 percent. In mapping, identification and a special project on the subject of fire blight by the way, around half a million euros has flowed in so far – mainly from the EU.
Commitment to old orchard meadows does not mean not allowing any progress, stresses the 45-year-old from lower bavaria. On the contrary: "many old fruit trees no longer exist simply because they were no good." That quite a lot of today's "old" fruit trees originated in france, proves that fruit growers have always tried new things. Today degenbeck tries new. In a variety garden near the LWG, 100 new varieties from the past 40 years are growing under his care, and their suitability for meadow orchards is being tested. For example, the variety "enterprise or "florina": "the latter a top variety in terms of growth and robustness."