Chinanews, Urumqi, December 9th: Why is the apple widely grown in the world unique in Aksu, Xinjiang?

  Author Shi Yujiang

  Aksu, located at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang, has a history of at least a thousand years of apple cultivation, and Aksu's apples enjoy a unique charm.

This not only depends on the local soil, water source, geography and climate and other factors, but also benefits from the hardworking and intelligent people here, because they planted the delicious Xinjiang "fairy fruit" in the former Gobi desert.

Through the promotion and implementation of a series of standardized measures, the quality and efficiency of Aksu apples have been significantly improved.

Photo by Li Kang

  "I heard that people who have eaten authentic Aksu apples can't forget its taste. Although I don't like apples very much, after tasting the apples here, I quickly fell in love with them." Zhang Xingguo, a citizen of Suzhou, China, said that this is The sweetest apple he's ever eaten.

  The apples of the world look at China, and the apples of China look at Xinjiang.

Among them, Aksu is the leader of Xinjiang apples and is known as the prince of apples in the world.

  At present, China is the world's largest apple producer and consumer, accounting for more than 50% of the world's production and consumption, and occupies an important position in the world's apple industry.

There are about one million hectares in Xinjiang, Liaoning, Shandong, Hebei, Beijing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Tianjin, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Gansu and other provinces and cities.

But why can the unique apples in the world be produced in the Aksu area at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang and the northern edge of the Tarim Basin?

As a national geographical indication product of China, Aksu apple has been selected into the second batch of protection list of the "China-EU Agreement on Geographical Indications".

Photo by Li Kang

  Xinjiang is the origin of apple cultivation in the world

  Apple is an ancient tree species, which is more resistant to low temperature and drying. Apple is the most widely used fruit.

  In 1929, the famous Soviet scientist Vavilov identified Xinjiang wild apple as the ancestor of cultivated apple for the first time.

In 2017, the research results published by the team of Professor Chen Xuesen from Shandong Agricultural University in the international academic journal "Nature Communication" once again confirmed that through gene sequencing, Xinjiang wild apples are the origin of the world's cultivated apples.

  According to preliminary investigations, there are currently more than 200 local apple varieties in Xinjiang, and about 300 varieties have been introduced and cultivated from other places, including early, middle, and late-maturing varieties.

Aksu apple harvest.

Photo by Li Chunlin

  In 646 A.D., Tang Xuanzang recorded in "Da Tang Western Regions" that the "Nai" produced in "Agni (Yanqi) and Quzhi (Kucha)" refers to the early cotton apples.

It describes the situation of apple trees being planted in Yanqi, Kuqa, Shache and other places in Xinjiang at that time.

This proves that it was when the trade channel of the Silk Road was opened that the wild apples in Xinjiang were widely spread and gradually spread eastward.

  According to historical documents, more than 2,000 years ago, cotton apples from the mountains and fields in western Xinjiang settled in this land, and the local residents have accumulated rich experience in apple breeding, cultivation and processing through long-term practice.

  Aksu apples have been planted for at least a thousand years, and the red Fuji imported from Japan has been domesticated through agronomy to form the unique quality of Aksu apples.

In particular, Bingtangxin Red Fuji Apple is a new variety that incorporates modern technology.

As a result, Aksu apples, as China's national geographical indication products, were selected into the second batch of protection lists in the "China-Europe Geographical Indication Agreement".

  In the 1950s and 1960s, young people from the branches and borders of China's Henan Province and Shanghai City planted trees and afforestation in the Aksu area, planting various types of fruit trees.

Among them, because apples are more popular in the market, its planting area continues to expand.

At present, among all prefectures and cities in Xinjiang, the Aksu region has the largest apple planting area, accounting for more than 38%.

"Oranges grow in the south are tangerines, and when they grow in the north, they become oranges." The same is true for apples.

Photo by Liao Zhouyan

  One of the best regions for growing apples

  Aksu is located in a high-altitude area, with a warm temperate arid desert climate; the annual average sunshine hours are 2,621 hours, and the monthly average sunshine hours are the longest at 333.5 hours; the average annual temperature range is 33.4°C, and the average daily range is 14.4°C.

It is conducive to the accumulation of sugar in apples and is one of the most suitable areas for apple growth in the world.

Coupled with sandy soil cultivation and glacial snow water irrigation, apple cultivation has unique geographical advantages.

  In the 1990s, the flat Aksu apple, with an average weight of 150 grams and a smooth and delicate surface, became well known to Chinese people.

Zheng Ming, a wholesaler in the Southern Xinjiang Fruit Trading Market, said, "The most famous areas for apples are Aksu Hongqipo and Shahe Town (the Fifth Regiment of the First Division of the Xinjiang Corps), which are the core production areas of Aksu apples. Because these two places are very close to each other. , climate, water source, temperature, geography and other conditions are the same.”

  There are many factors that affect the taste of apples, but the place of origin bears the brunt. "Oranges grown in the south are oranges, while oranges grown in the north are oranges." The same is true for apples.

After experiencing frost, the sugar in the core part of the fruit piles up into a transparent shape, crystal clear like "rock sugar".

Photo by Shi Yujiang

  How are "Bingtangxin" apples made?

  The apples here are generally not picked until the end of October in late autumn. The growing season has been fully extended and the natural essence has been fully absorbed.

Moreover, after three frosts, the sugar in the fruit core has accumulated into a transparent shape, crystal clear like "rock sugar", with the best sweetness, aroma and taste.

  "Picking in the low temperature around November, the moisture will be particularly sufficient." The person in charge of the Wutuan Shahe Town Agricultural Development Service Center said that the sugar content of the "Bingtangxin" apples here can reach 17 to 21 degrees, which is 20% higher than ordinary apples. about.

  "After eating apples, my lips have a sticky feeling. This is the phenomenon that the sugar in the pulp remains in my mouth." A local logistics worker said that nearly a thousand boxes of apples were scattered from Xinjiang to Shanghai in November this year, and they were also brought along. Some other specialties in Xinjiang, "In terms of taste, Aksu apples have almost zero negative reviews."

The picture shows combing fruit to increase the rate of commercial fruit.

Photo by Li Kang

  Over the years, the local area has continuously summed up experience in planting technology and optimized cultivation methods.

"We changed the shape of the tree from three-dimensional fruit to flat fruit, increasing the amount of light and making it easier to pick; promoting artificial assisted pollination to ensure production; increasing efforts to control green pests in forests and fruits, etc." Forestry Technology Extension Service in Aksu Region The relevant person in charge of the center said that through the promotion and implementation of a series of standardized measures, the quality and efficiency of Aksu apples have been significantly improved.

  The person in charge also said that in order to allow the apples to receive photosynthesis more evenly, they also spread reflective film in the orchard to let the apples enjoy "sunbathing".

Aksu apples sell well in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and other eastern provinces and cities.

Photo by Li Kang

  Has become a dominant industry in Aksu area

  "In 2016, I found that high-grade apples were more popular in the market." Luo Aiguo, a fruit farmer in Shahe Town, Wutuan, said that since 2018, his apples have been purchased by Harbin Hada Fruit and Vegetable Wholesale Market every year.

"Bingtangxin" apples brought a hot market to Luo Aiguo.

  This year, the planting area of ​​Aksu Bingtangxin apples is more than 500,000 mu. The products sell well in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and other eastern provinces and cities, and are mainly exported to neighboring countries such as Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

  Today, Aksu Apple has formed a whole industry chain of fruit production, processing, preservation, warehousing, wholesale and retail, logistics and transportation.

  "The grapes of Turpan, the melons of Hami, and the apples of Aksu are praised by everyone" is a song circulating in Xinjiang.

Over the years, Aksu apples have not only sold well at home and abroad, but also become a dominant industry in Aksu.