Arbor Day event marks Yates County anniversary

Apr 26, 2023 at 09:23 pm by Observer-Review

PENN YAN--Bicentennial celebrations are continuing throughout Yates County. On Arbor Day, (Friday, April 28) at 1 p.m. community leaders will recognize the Wagener apple tree, a rare heirloom variety. The ceremony will be held at the Yates County History Center, 107 Chapel St., Penn Yan. During the ceremony, a marker will be “planted” at the base of a Wagener Apple tree and brief remarks will be offered by Leslie Church, chair of the Yates County legislature, and County Historian Len Kataskas.
The tree being celebrated was originally brought to Yates County by George S. Wheeler, who was one of the founding members of the county. He is credited with planting the first seeds in the Finger Lakes in 1791. It was a preferred variety because of its ability to last for months in cold cellars. In 1796, Abraham Wagener purchased Wheeler’s property and continued planting seedlings on additional property in Penn Yan. The species was eventually named after Wagener. According to Silver Creek Nursery, the tree’s fruit is known as attractive and tasty, with a sharp, acidic taste ideal for cooking that softens with age, becoming a sweet crisp apple.
“The Wagener apple is a parent to the modern Ida Red variety, and the tree is hard to find,” said Kataskas, explaining that the scarcity is why they are classified as an heirloom variety. “We planted several last year, but currently only about six are growing. We expect to plant more this year as soon as the nursery has them back in stock.”
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