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Terry Winter Apple
According to Old Southern Apples, written by the late C. Lee Calhoun, Terry Winter originated on the farm of a Mr. Terry in Fulton County prior to the Civil War. It was first grafted and sold by nurserymen in 1868 and grew best in the piedmont and coastal plains of the South.
Two Terry Winter apple trees were planted in the Georgia Heritage Apple Orchard in Blairsville on Feb. 9, 2021.
-USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705

Forgotten apple varieties get new attention

By Amy Carter

Apples were once common on farms and plantations throughout the South, but in the late 19th Century, people realized that the mountains of North Georgia were ideal for commercial apple production.

"An enormous amount of capital actually got invested in setting up commercial orchards in many of the northern counties - Habersham, Rabun and others. These were massive operations," said Stephen Mihm, a professor of history at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Back then, the apples on everyone's lips weren't Granny Smith or Red Delicious but Floyd's Prize and Huntsman's Favorite.

"These varieties became very prominent, but several things conspired to destroy the apple industry starting in the 1920s. One was over development. Second was Prohibition," Mihm said.

After Congress passed the Volstead Act of 1919 to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment's prohibition on the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, demand dried up for apples to make hard cider, Applejack and apple brandy.

Then came The Great Depression.

"That's when you really start to see a sort of collapse," Mihm said. "We have reason to believe that on some of the (Chattahoochee) National Forest land there are abandoned orchards because much of the forest land was taken from abandoned farms where people just walked off."

Mihm is working with Cherokee County UGA Extension Agent Joshua Fuder and UGA Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center Director Ray Covington to re-establish forgotten varieties of apples in North Georgia. The three established the Georgia Heritage Apple Orchard at the research center outside Blairsville Feb. 9, and plan to add more varieties in the weeks to come.

Read more in the Feb. 24th issue of the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin.

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