An Arboretum of Apples

How to Find Apple Tree Number 2387

When your orchard covers about fifteen hectares and contains 2,690 trees – half of which are apple trees – you need some way to find any individual tree. This plan of the Bathurst Experiment Farm orchard was devised and used just for this purpose. Until each tree was tagged with their variety in the 1960s, the orchardists would use this plan and physically count down the trees until they found the one they were looking for.

The orchard was first planted in 1896 and by 1950 had expanded from eleven to forty-five hectares, three-quarters of which were devoted to experimental work with the remainder grown commercially. The orchard fluctuated over time in size and the range of fruit grown as old rootstocks were removed and different plantings were trialled.

As shown in the plan, the orchard area included packing sheds, a boiler room, and a cannery. The experimental work of the orchard covered trialing different strains of various fruit, investigating different methods of packing fruit, types of packing cases, methods of canning, contour banking, and the effects of different pesticides and fertilisers. The latter are detailed in the notes at the top of the plan.

The orchard was renowned for its rootstock, pesticide and entomological research, and was very successful commercially. By the 1950s the orchard was producing 18,000 cases of fruit per year with exports receiving top price. However, the commercial side of the orchard did not please some local orchardists who complained the orchard’s output was undercutting them on price.

Along with the wide range of cold-climate fruit and nuts grown, the orchard contained seventy-five varieties of apples. So if you wanted to find apple tree number 2387 you definitely needed this plan to find your way through the Farm’s arboretum of apples.