Malus ‘Okana’

Again, Taisha is both the writer and photographer. She writes:

The leaves are falling, the fall colours are vibrant, and the fruit is for the picking– particularly the apple! This upcoming weekend of October 19-20 is the annual Apple Festival, held by the Friends of the Garden (FOGs). With all the hard work from the FOGs, staff, and other volunteers, this year’s event is sure to be a success! Some forecasts show sun for Vancouver over the weekend, which is also pleasant considering last year we nearly were left bobbing for apples in the rain!

The Apple Festival is a family event for all ages in celebration of Malus. Each year, 44 000 lbs or 20 000 kilograms of apples are sold, including both heritage and newer varieties. Not only will apple fruits be for sale, but attendees can also see demonstrations on grafting and pressing, buy a grafted-onto-rootstock tree for the backyard or patio, or taste up to 60 varieties of apples in the apple-tasting tent. One of the highlights this year is the appearance and sale of the newly-named variety Malus ‘Okana’.

The ‘Okana’ apple (PDF) was selected by David Evans of Oliver, British Columbia. Evans first discovered the ‘Okana’ apple tree among a grove of Malus ‘Spartan’ in 1998. It was bulked up vegetatively by grafting, and (as of 2005) 900 trees of ‘Okana’ were being grown on M26 rootstock. The selected traits for this cultivar were colour, sweet flavour, and ease of harvest. /p>

I did try this charming red apple after photographing it. The bright white flesh was sweet, hardly tart, and slightly acidic. It is exceptionally crisp and quite juicy. A very satisfying apple, and if you are local, you can try it for yourself this weekend–the Apple Festival runs both Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm.

Also, after checking out the main events at the Apple Festival, you may want to pop over to UBC Farm. Along with their on-site booth at the Apple Festival, the Farm will be offering tours of their Heritage Orchard on Saturday at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm.

Daniel adds: Here are some of the apple cultivars previously featured on BPotD: Malus ‘Elstar’, Malus ‘Jonagold’, Malus ‘Melrose’, Malus SPA493, now marketed as ‘Salish’, Malus ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’, Malus ‘Creston’, and Malus ‘Rubinette’.

Malus 'Okana'

5 responses to “Malus ‘Okana’”

  1. James Singer

    Question. Why are fruit trees, including apple, grafted so high up the root stock? Are the merchants in cahoots with the ladder-making industry?

  2. Daniel Mosquin

    James, I’d never considered that before. I suspect this is only a partial answer as I’m not very familiar with apple production, but it seems like graft height promotes branching, early fruit production and yield in at least two cultivars.

  3. Burt Deeter

    Will the Okana grow well in our Lower Mainland climate, or does it need the hot weather of the Okanagan? If so, where can one obtain a tree? As a teenager growing up in Kelowna, one of my favourite times of the year was the fall when the apples were ready to harvest. There is nothing to compare to a ripe Spartan picked from the tree on a clear Fall night!

  4. Robert Lievens

    Fruit trees are grafted high to prevent the cultivar from establishing its own root system, which would defeat the size-controlling qualities of the selected rootstock.

  5. Dave Evans

    Okana should grow well on a root stalk compatable to costal climate
    Trees will be available on the Evans Farm next year.
    Early fruit production depends on root stalk, cultivar. and pruning and supporting.

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