“There is no fruit in temperate climates so universally esteemed, and so extensively cultivated, nor is there any which is so closely identified with the social habits of the human species as the apple. Apart from the many domestic purposes to which it is applicable, the facility of its cultivation, and its adaptation to almost every latitude, have rendered it, in the ages, an object of special attention and regard.”
Dr. Robert Hogg, The Apple, 1851
Apple remains found in Israeli and Turkey have been dated to 6500 BC, but it is difficult to say exactly where this fruit came from; wild species growing to the north (representing the sweet variety), or husbanded trees found nearer to settlements (Morgan, 2013). From the thirteen century onward the number the varieties of esteemed apple soared, and the plant was taken to almost every corner of the earth (Morgan, 2013). As the apple evolved with humans it acquired a reputation associated with of sexuality, temptation, and a tendency to invoke chaos and destruction . The apple possesses a remarkable diversity of color, form, flavor and texture. From a culinary perspective fresh apples are ranked among prize ingredients, and from a dietary perspective apples are a useful source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium (Morgan, 2013). From a local perspective apple trees bring blossoms, birds, wildlife and pollinators. They create a microclimate that can be exploited to help serve the needs of other desirable species. Apples themselves naturally have a long shelf live and a wide range of applications. Finally, apple trees provide an opportunity to pick delicious fruit that is in its prime, free of pests and preservatives.
Like many other fruits, apple’s do not breed true to seed, so every pip is potentially a new variety with its own unique genetic makeup. The long history of apples and their reproduction method gives apples an amazing amount a genetic diversity. In general, apple trees can withstand a wide range of summer and winter temperatures, many types of soil, and are relatively indifferent to day-length, making it possible to cultivate them at any latitude where suitable microclimates exist (Morgan, 2013). New varieties have been crossed with exceptionally hardy species and have the capacity to withstand artic temperatures (Morgan, 2013). The main factor restricting the migration of apples into warmer climates is a lack of winter chilling  (Morgan, 2013). Many mountainous regions help to satisfy this winter chill niche. In addition, new tropical varieties have also recently been developed.
Since apples do not breed true to seed, and because most varieties do not root easily from cuttings, grafting has evolved to become a key step in their cultivation. Grafts can occur naturally if two branches rub together which will eventually lead to the branches fusing together (Morgan, 2013). The point in time when farmers became inspired enough to experiment with grafting and follow this process they found in the wild remains unclear. The integration of grafting into agricultural practices was a huge step forward in apple production because it gave farmer the ability not only to reproduce useful trees and establish valued varieties elsewhere, but it also transformed otherwise undesirable trees (Morgan, 2013).
Grafting require a rootstock to be planted in the ground and develop a root system, and a scion to be grafted onto the rootstock. The Rootstock will determine the tolerances, height, and lifespan of the plant. Standard or half standard species have a long lifespan (~100 years) and need less attention (Sinden, 1989). Dwarfing trees on the other hand will bear fruit sooner and grow less vigorously but tend to have a shorter lifespan (~30 years) (Sinden, 1989). The scion determines the characteristics of the apples produces. If you find yourself grafting remember to ensure that you both harvest and graft at the appropriate time of year, the cambium lines up, the scion is grafted in the proper direction, and the scion and rootstock are both from healthy specimens.
In most cases apple trees reproduce sexually, a male germ cell (pollen) form one flower pollinates a female germ cell (ovule) of another flower. Most apple trees are self-incompatible and require cross-pollination from another compatible variety to successfully pollinate (Sinden, 1989). As a result, if you are planting apple trees it is important to plant at least two compatible varieties. Furthermore, careful consideration should be taken to select varieties that blossom at roughly the same time. To ensure a good crop production, trees should be planted relatively close together to encourage crosspollination (~6-8 ft) when planting standard and half-standard trees (Sinden, 1989). Wind protection is also suggested, especially at blossom time because pollinating insects are deterred by strong winds (Whitefield, 2002). Apples will tolerate some shade, but need to be in full sun for at least half the day (Whitefield, 2002). Sunshine gives apples their full flavor and color, so it may be more important for some variety as apposed to others (Whitefield, 2002).
 For example apples play a critical role in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, are the sacred fruit to the Greek love goddess Aphrodite and her Roman counterpart Venus, and Celtic stories identify the apple with love and fertility (Morgan, 2013). Many folklore stories also utilize the apple as important plot development tool, for example Snow White falls victim to a poisoned apple.
 For apple trees to resume growth in the spring their dormant phase must be ‘broken’. Dormancy will be broken after a prescribed ‘sum’ of winter conditions has passed; the tree then knows that winter has ended and will begin to flower in response to warm temperatures. This sum of cold weather is known as winter chill. (Darbyshire, 2014).
Darbyshire, Rebecca. Crossing the threshold: adaptation tipping points for Australian fruit trees. PICCC, Primary Industry Climate Change Center. 2014. Web. Retrieved from http://www.piccc.org.au/sites/piccc/files/Horticulture%20winter%20chill%20fact%20sheet%20FINAL_1.pdf
Morgan, Joan. The New Book of Apples. Random House. 2013.
Sinden, Neil. In a nutshell: A manifesto for trees and a guide to growing and protecting them. Common Ground. 1989.
Whitefield, Patrick. How To Make A Garden Forest. Permanent Publications. 2002.