Tuesday, February 27Food Security Matters

Apple Farming: Can Apple Grow in the Philippines?

Benzone Sepe has proven that apple farming in the Philippines is possible. His farm now has over 300 apple trees, proving that apple growing can be cultivated in the Philippines.

In 2014, Benzone Sepe decided to plant three seeds in their backyard in Barangay Kapatagan, Digos, while eating an apple.

Two of the plants died after a few months, while the only one that survived could not bear fruit.

Benzone did not stop there as he conducted further research on apple farming.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, he said he pruned the plant, but it didn’t end there. “I found out on the internet that the branch should be bent for sunlight exposure,” he said.

Benzone first noticed flowers on the apple tree in January 2018, and the following month, he discovered four pinkish and fist-sized apples hanging from it.

It still has the same juiciness and crunchiness as a commercial apple, he said.

Benzone-Sepe-apple-farming
Benzone Sepe

Dr. Alexander Campaner, an agriculturist, says an apple grows best at a temperature between 7 and 12 degrees Celcius.

In Benguet, apple trees were planted, but the results were not as good as ours, Campaner said.

Apple trees were able to grow in Digos’ highlands as a result.

This is Mindanao’s first successful apple tree, according to Bong O’ate of the Department of Agriculture XI.

In a tropical country like the Philippines, growing apples (Malus domestica) might be tricky. However, living in Kapatagan, Digos City, Davao del Sur where the climate is cool made it ideal.

He took three seeds from an apple he was eating seven years ago and planted them in seashells, then moved them to seedling bags when they reached approximately five inches tall. The 30-year-old student started cultivating apples out of sheer curiosity seven years ago. Even though all seeds sprouted, only one tree survived after Sepe planted the young apple seedlings in the ground at the age of six months.

After visiting Korea, he was determined to cultivate apples. After reading local magazines about farmers growing mangoes in greenhouses, he wondered if apples could also be grown in greenhouses. As a result, he returned home and began researching apple gardening after seeing an apple tree blossom in his backyard.

Sepe began harvesting apples from his apple tree in September 2018. Each harvest, he gets 30 to 35 fruits.

Managing his apple farming business

Sepe now has over 250 to 300 apple trees. He grows this fruit in three separate areas: a 600 square meter backyard, in front of his church, and on a half-hectare piece of land he rents.

In temperate climates, apple trees bear fruit after five to seven months, according to Sepe. In his area, however, it only takes four months for apple trees to begin producing fruit. According to Sepe, it may be difficult to grow apples in the Philippines, but it is possible. However, the grower stated that apple seeds have a very low germination rate and are resistant to fungus. As a result, you must plant more and take many risks.

“If you want to start growing apples from seeds, you should plant as many as possible, 100 or more apple seeds if possible,” Sepe explained to The Manila Bulletin.

To control pests on his land, Sepe uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which includes homemade natural pesticides and foliar sprays.

When he needs help, Sepe hires part-timers.

The Apple Orchard, Rare Fruit Farm, and Nursery at Kapatagan

Sepe grows a variety of apples, including Fuji, Golden Dorsett, Starking, Granny Smith, Gala, Redlove Odysso, and Russet.

Sepe grows a variety of apples, including Fuji, Golden Dorsett, Starking, Granny Smith, Gala, Redlove Odysso, and Russet.

In addition to apples, Sepe grows pear, persimmon, peach, Hass avocado, orange, durian, grapes, strawberry, guava, and vegetables in his orchard.

As the Philippines’ first ATI-certified Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) for apple production, Kapatagan Apple Orchard, Rare Fruit Farm, and Nursery welcomes visitors and students interested in apple cultivation.

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