In a few scattered orchards of the Carpathian basin one can still find our most common historical apple cultivars and certain traces of traditional cultivation. We consider it an important part of the Department's breeding work to explore old apple cultivars which can be used as parent partners and sources of resistance, to identify them pomolo...gically as well as to examine the production and marketing value of old cultivars recommended for cultivation in ecological production and in gardens. This paper documents the results of expedition and collecting work carried out in three regions of the Carpathian basin (foot of the Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania, Aggtelek karst area), and also the saving of old Hungarian apple cultivars preserved until present in the English National Fruit Collection. A total of more than 100 old apple cultivars and variations, as well as 13 valuable genotypes were collected during our explorations in the above mentioned four areas. A further aim of our work is to contribute to the protection of still savable archaic fruit production relict= areas and to the preservation of cultivars in the certain regions, and also to promote the recognition of the aesthetic landscape value of old apple trees and endemic orchards of old cultivars. Our good co-operating partners in this work are Aggtelek National Park, Farmer Club of Visk and the consultation centre of Hungarian horticulturist training beyond the border in Nyárádszereda.
Shoot blight of pome fruits caused by Erwinia amylovora, i.e. fire blight, is present in numerous countries of Europe. The disease must have entered into Hungary in the middle of the 1990's and it was first noted and, respectively, identified in 1996 (Bacs-Kiskun county). The losses caused by the pathogen appeared — in orchards and s...cattered sites of production — in four counties, namely Bacs-Kiskun, Baranya, Bekes and Csongrad at the beginning. From June 1996, a process of eliminating infected parts started in the course of a large action performed under the control of the Department of Plant Protection and Agro-Environmental Economy of the Ministry of Agriculture, under the direction of the plant protection inspectors of the then existing Stations of Plant Health and Soil Conservation. The 'operation' against the disease commenced by cutting back out the infected parts of the canopy and, grubbing them out, respectively. As for the spread of the pathogen (1996-1998) it could be observed that the disease entered into Hungary from the south, south-east and then it also spread into the middle part of the country. As a result of adequate official action and efforts as well as of adequate chemical and antibiotic treatments, moreover because of the introduction of more modern technologies of plant cultivation and those of plant protection it can be reported on that the pathogen hardly appears or does not occur at all on the northern, north-western part of the country. The infection also appears mainly on the parts east of the Danube. Cultivars less susceptible or non-susceptible to the disease are planted in recently established orchards what is also a considerable factor in respect of preventing spread of the pathogen.
In the frame of the apple breeding program at the Department of Fruit Science old cultivars found in the Carpathian basin were involved in examination as well. Beside testing susceptibility to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora of old genotypes (historical, local and regional cultivars) originating from scattered orchards of Visk (foot of...the Carpathian Mountains), fruit quality was also evaluated and other open-field observations were made.
According to the results of inner content examinations, 'Szemes alma' and 'Sikulai alma', chosen as gene sources for breeding to resistance against fire blight, had inner content values worthy to mention in some aspects, and competing with those of the control cultivar 'Jonathan'. The quality of 'Pónyik alma', also recommended as a gene source is confirmed by the data of earlier literature. Further three cultivars ('Batul', 'Vilmos renet', 'Zöld sóvári') also proved to be good based on resistance against Erwinia amylovora, the first two cultivars are suitable from the point of view of fruit quality, too.
In our field observations, susceptibility to apple scab and powdery mildew was evaluated. Among cultivars selected from the foot of the Carpathian Mountains on the base of resistance against Erwinia amylovora, the production value of 'Szemes alma' is worsened by its high susceptibility to apple scab. Further selected cultivars ('Sikulai', 'Pónyik alma', 'Batul', 'Vilmos renet') are not too susceptible to fungal diseases and their fruit quality is also suitable, therefore they can be recommended for direct planting in ecological farming or in restoring scattered orchards.