BHUNTAR, KULLU, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.
The legacy of the Red Delicious.
In a region where orchards take up the largest portion of 2.07 lac hectares of farmland and annual exports sometime exceed a crop of over 250 millions boxes, it is easy to imagine its primary cash crop ‘ the apple’ as a native fruit growing on her lofty hills and mountains since the beginning of time. Yet nothing can be farther from the truth.
Ancient Himachal was a paradoxical Eden. She had everything from breathtaking sights to wild berries and serpents yet not a single apple within her far flung borders. Till in 1916 in came the non indigenous Red Delicious – an American variety of apples born on a farm in Peru Iowa (USA), almost a century ago.
First planted by Samuel Evans Stokes (see Hindu article: A foreigner and freedom fighter), an American social worker turned experimental farmer, the fruit was the precursor that kick-started the hill state’s apple industry with its sweet tantalizing taste, putting it on course to be a major power in cultivation – presently producing over sixteen varieties of different apples of which the royal, red and the golden rates high on the popularity charts.