Fruit Terroir


What makes my fruit so flavorful? Why does my apple tree grown here in California produce apples that taste so much different than when I tasted them as  a child in New England? The answers may not be as simple as you would like. There are many factors that make your fruit flavorful and distinct. Researching the unique varieties of fruit trees before planting may help so that you can have optimal results which translate to delicious fruit!

Some of these factors often discussed are  sunlight, irrigation practices, pruning, or soil composition. Also the harvest decision is often subjective and  differences in how the apples are stored emerge.   But another concept to consider would be terroir. Terroir is often discussed referring to vineyards, especially older vineyards in Europe. However, it is also believed that terroir affects the taste of other crops in addition to grapes (Trubek, A 2008, Jacobsen, R. 2010). Terroir is the sum of the complete environmental conditions in which a particular fruit is grown. Soil, topography, and climate especially influence unique characteristics of fruit. The belief is that flavor of the fruit reflects the soil and climate of the region it is grown.

Geography and geomorphology affects the availability of different minerals, soil and water pH, water quality, slope and aspect of the land which the crop is grown. Geographically, soils differ in their chemical and physical properties. However, physical properties (ex. clay vs. alluvial soils) may affect fruit more than the chemical since the physical properties of soil is what help move the water supply to the roots and eventually to the fruit. Physical properties may also affect the structure of the tree. The roots may grow deeper into the soil and tap into a higher water table or have access to more nutritive soils.  The chemical properties of soil is also important, but mainly if there are deficiencies or excess components (ex nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium etc. ).