Feature #52 > March 18th, 2013 Journal Entry
The Golden Delicious is a cultivar of apple with a yellow color. It is not closely related to the Red Delicious apple.
Golden Delicious is a large, yellow skinned cultivar and very sweet to the taste. It is prone to bruising and shriveling, so it needs careful handling and storage. It is a favorite for salads, apple sauce, and apple butter.
This cultivar is a chance seedling possibly a hybrid of Grimes Golden23 and Golden Reinette.4 The original tree was found on the Mullins’ family farm in Clay County, West Virginia, United States and was locally known as Mullin’s Yellow Seedling and Annit apple. Anderson Mullins sold the tree and propagation rights to Stark Brothers Nurseries, which first marketed it as a companion of their Red Delicious in 1914.5
I was born in 1876 on the farm where that apple tree later became famous. My dad was L. L. Mullins, who owned the farm. "Now one day, when I was about 15 years old, that would have been about 1891, dad sent me out with a big old mowin’ scythe to mow the pasture field. "I was swingin’ away with the scythe when I came across a little apple tree that had grown about 20 inches tall. It was just a new little apple tree that had volunteered there. There wasn’t another apple tree right close by anywhere. "I thought to myself, ‘Now young feller, I’ll just leave you there, and that’s what I did. I mowed around it and on other occasions I mowed around it again and again, and it grew into a nice lookin’ little apple tree and eventually it was a big tree and bore apples. "Now my dad later gave that piece of the farm in a trade to my brother, B. W. Mullins, and later still he traded the farm place to Uncle Anderson Mullins. "Uncle Anderson had a brother-in-law named Gus Carnes, and one day Gus and Uncle Anderson decided to send some of the apples to the Star Brothers nursery to tell what kind of apple it was. And that was when the tree became famous and started the Golden Delicious apple line, for it was that tree that has produced every last one of the Golden Delicious apple trees that have ever grown anywhere. “The Starks sent a man to look at the tree, just like you’ve heard, and they bought the tree and the ground for 30 feet around it, and eventually they fenced it. They were to get all the fruit from the tree, down to the last apple.” But there is more to the story. For anyone connected with agriculture, the name of George C Deems will probably pull a memory chord. He began as an Agriculture Extension agent in 1933, in Clay County, West Virginia serving there for eight years and an additional two years in Doddridge county. In Clay County, George Deems was instrumental in preserving and perpetuating the original Stark’s Golden delicious apple tree on A. H. Mullins property back in 1938. The famed tree came to the attention of the Stark Brothers a number of years before, when Mr. Mullins sent three apples to Mr. Stark one fine April. The Golden Delicious long keeping qualities were soon abundantly evident to Mr. Stark, as well as to United States Pomologist Colonel Brackett, in Washington, and the nursery bought the tree and ground on which it stands from Mr. Mullins for the then golden sum of $5,000.00, after verifying that the tree was the producer of the long sought perfect yellow apple. George Deems visited the famed tree shortly after he became extension agent and personally pruned the valuable tree while a DPW, That’s Department of Public Works, to predepression kids- project renovated and restored the protective woven wire cage that guarded the tree against clandestine pruners who would have otherwise whittled it down, graft by graft.2
In 2010, an Italian-led consortium announced they had decoded the complete genome of the Golden delicious apple.6 It had the highest number of genes (57,000) of any plant genome studied to date.
The Golden Delicious was designated the official state fruit of West Virginia by a Senate resolution on February 20, 1955.7 Clay County has hosted an annual Golden Delicious Festival since 1972.