Do a "Google" search on "growing apples in the tropics" and the first four hits will be ours; this is because Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery has been the world leader in dispelling myths about where apples can grow, and also in bringing the world's best-adapted varieties to hot climates and the tropics.
We were the first nursery to ignore an apple's purported chilling-hour rating or place of origin when testing a variety in the blast-furnace heat of Southern California, USA (45° C.) and the first to continuously publish a log on how those varieties are doing. We've discovered lots of losers but also quite a few real winners, from places no one would have ever thought of.
But we have also sought out the long-forgotten apple varieties wrought by the seedling cider orchards of the American Deep South, where the apples were naturally acclimated to the tropical heat and humidity they suffer through each season. The best performers from both of these categories get forwarded on to test orchards in Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia for testing in African conditions.
When we tell you an apple is good, it is not like we are inexperienced apple tasters. We have a high mountain range 60 km from our headquarters with plenty of frost and snow that was once covered in hundreds of thousands of apple trees, the survivors of which are still producing high-quality apples 100 years later. We have also traveled to the famous apple-producing areas of New England and Virginia in the USA to sample their best offerings. We have tasted some wonderful apples, but can confidently say that the best of our hot-weather apples proudly hold their own against anything we have tasted in colder climates.
But what sets us apart from other nurseries is our emphasis on apple culture education. This is because much of the information on growing apples is focused on a cold climate, and growing apples in the tropics is much different with very little information available on it. We were determined to change this and set out on writing, lecturing, and demonstrating apple culture in a warm climate. Our first book, "Growing Apples in the City", became the standard for warm-climate apple growing and has allowed many people to grow apples where they never thought possible. This book started the demand for me to travel and lecture to gardening groups and visit growers from the desert of Arizona to Galilee in Israel. We've taught thousands of people how to graft apple trees, as our instructional videos are some of the most popular on the internet.
We have now released our latest book, "Growing Apples in the Tropics", which is the the first modern publication intended for the rural tropic apple grower that deals with the challenges and opportunities they face. It incorporates the best of historic apple literature, modern university research, and practical lessons learned by other tropic growers into one volume that will help build an apple industry.
Our nursery was the first to directly target the tropics for sending apple trees to, and we've sent the first apple trees to several countries in Central America and the Caribbean, helping them to establish import protocols in the process. We've been shipping to East Africa for years, sending thousands of trees to Uganda, Rwanda, and Zambia. I am joyful to be opening these branches in Uganda and Rwanda and thank God for bringing all these elements and wonderful people- John Baptist Lwanga in Uganda and Emmanuel Ndolimana in Rwanda- together (as it sure wasn't because of my foresight or grand vision; I feel like I've just been along for the ride). I look forward to what God still has in store for tropic growers and the people of Africa; to Him be the glory.
- Kevin and Marty Hauser, Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery
Photos: Apples in 45C. (113F.) weather (Aack!), Poverty Lane Orchards in New Hampshire, Growing Apples in the City, Kevin Hauser doing a radio interview regarding the history of apples on New Hampshire Public Radio, John Baptist Lwanga and Robert Serunjogi in Entebbe, Kevin and Marty Hauser with a 100 year old Rome Beauty tree at Stetson Ranch in the local mountains.
©2015 Kuffel Creek