7,493+ Apples

I seem to be able to locate only about seven varieties of apples in my local shops with any sort of regularity. In this town, you can generally find only Cripp’s Pink/Pink Lady, Fuji, (Royal) Gala, Jazz, Jonagold, Kanzi (occasional) and Braeburn (bloody Braeburn!). Occasionally, you can find Discovery and Worcester Pearmain, but former regulars, like Cameo, and Jonathan seem to have disappeared.

I have been unable to find any reference to research work into lengthening the growing seasons by genetic engineering, which you might’ve thought was a distinct possibility. My own favourite apple is Cox’s Orange Pippin, which we can buy for only two short seasons each year: one from the UK (in Autumn and Winter) and the other from New Zealand (in the warmer months). In between, we’re lumbered with the few above.

According to Wikipedia’s fascinating page, ‘List of apple cultivars,’ there are “over 7,500 varieties” of Malus domestica (or M.pumila), the domestic or eating apple. Although new varieties are being introduced constantly, many others are ancient – and excellent to eat. This being the case, can anyone explain why it is that the supermarkets in this country – the Big Four, as well as the not-so-big – rarely, if ever, stock any of the other 7,493+? Too much like hard work?