Once an abundant apple variety, the Colorado Orange has been lost for many years.
Addie and Jude Schuenemeyer are the founders of the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, which "works to preserve Colorado’s fruit- growing heritage and restore an orchard culture and economy to the southwestern region." The couple also discovered a once extinct variety of apple growing in Colorado, and they are now hoping to get that apple growing once again.
The Colorado Orange is one of those thought to be extinct; it was an award-winner that once grew abundantly in the state. The Schuenemeyers found a record of it in an old county fair document and learned that it had grown all over the state. They began what would be an almost 20-year search to find the elusive Colorado Orange apple, which has been described as "a medium to large-sized, oblate, yellow apple, sometimes blushed orange, often ribbed, often with russet cavity and russet dots. Written historical records describe it as a yellow or orange, late winter apple."
After years of no luck, in 2017, the Schuenemeyers were asked to look at an old apple tree growing in the yard of a man in Freemont County. This man's father-in-law mentioned to him that the tree in his yard was, in fact, a Colorado Orange.
The couple found themselves looking at a tree that grew ribbed, yellow, and orange apples, and started a two-year process of having the apples analyzed. This process involved both lab analysis and samples taken from a wax apple set from a Colorado State University professor, who just happened to have a preserved sample of a Colorado Orange.
They literally compared apples to apples and were granted the amazing news that this apple was in fact the long-sought-after Colorado Orange apple.
Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project is auctioning off five trees in hopes of starting a comeback for the Colorado Orange apple. Bidding starts at $100. Find more information on here.
Have you ever heard of the Colorado Orange apple? What is your favorite kind of apple to grow here in Colorado? Give us the scoop in the comments.