Our Newton trees will require the planting of more apple trees, if we want some apples. Martha Case explained that apples have evolved a biological mechanism that prevents self-pollination, an evolutionary defense against inbreeding. To bear fruit, the Newton trees will need to have a couple of other apple trees—selected from varieties known to pollinate the Flower of Kent—planted nearby.
“They don’t have to be really close, just within eyesight would be ideal,” Case said. “There are a number of apple and crab apple trees on campus, but we do not know if they are varieties that could cross with the Flower of Kent.”
Case says we won’t see anything resembling leafy splendor for quite some time; the plantings are known as “whips,” which accurately depict their short, switch-like appearance. They’ll need quite a bit of care, too. Case said that young apple trees are at risk from dangers that range from fungal diseases to the deer that strip foliage from a mulberry tree outside Small Hall as far up as they can reach.
There’ll be a bench placed by the trees to accommodate anyone wanting to sit and contemplate universal gravitation. You’ll be sitting for a while, though, before an apple drops on your head—Case says it will be at least three years before our Newton trees bear fruit.