A letter to Roger Way

I wanted to send a letter to Roger Way, who led a lot of research on apple varieties within the Geneva New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. He worked on releasing many apple varieties we enjoy today like Empire, Jonamac and Liberty. My letter is below:

Dr. Way,

I wanted to write to thank you for what you’ve done for the apple sector. I have been doing a lot of reading since I’ve taken up the hobby of growing apples in my backyard. I’m growing one of the apples developed at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, Jonamac. Its my favorite orchard apple so far. I feel its actually quite under appreciated. It may be the seasonal overlap with McIntosh, but I feel the Jonamac is superior to the McIntosh on so many levels.

I have been reading many of the food and life sciences bulletins released by you and its really amazing the level of detail there was with research back in the 60’s and 70’s. A lot of your information came in very handy in educating myself from day 1. I am also growing a couple of other apples on your top 20 dessert apples list, Kidd’s Orange Red and Orleans Reinette. I’m only growing 3 trees plus a crab apple, and it seems like growing these varieties is as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. I saw that your top 20 list was released back in the mid 1960’s and it got me thinking if you had an updated top 20 list of dessert apples from the time that has elapsed since your original list came out.

I have a passion for apple growing that my day job just does not provide, even though it does provide a level of income apple growing could never match, even at an orchard level. I am relatively young, at the age of 32, still I have a great appreciation for all of the effort farmers and orchardists put in to provide a quality product. My grandfather grew up on a farm, so I’m beginning to wonder if thats where the passion comes from. My girlfriend, Cristin, calls me “apple crazy”, and I guess its true because I’m always thinking about different ways to do things in the backyard and possibly in an orchard setting.

Apple growing is a completely new experience for me, foreign really. I’ve never really grown anything on any scale before. There is a high level of pride in training and shaping something that will bear a delightful treat for your family, friends and neighbors to enjoy for a long time.

I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around the scope of your work in the industry, but I am constantly reminded of the quantity and quality of your work when I come across documentation on the Internet. Going thru tens of thousands of potential varieties and the endless amount of testing before its even a candidate for release shows how dedicated you are/were to the industry. I’m sure I am not aware of a majority of your many accomplishments, but I wanted to thank you via letter for the amount of work you have done for the apple industry to provide fantastic alternatives for so many to enjoy. I hope to grow apples in my yard with the same passion you had for your work.


Eric M Morrett


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