September is the peak of apple picking season across much of the U.S., but did you know that a major hurricane accidentally created one variety of apple?
Hurricane Camille devastated the state of Virginia in 1969, causing historical flooding for parts of the state. But in the wake of the flooding, we discovered a new variety of apple, the Ginger Gold.
On Aug. 17, 1969, Category 5 Hurricane Camille made landfall near Bay St. Louis in Mississippi. It continued north, weakening to a tropical storm as it moved through northern Mississippi before weakening further to a tropical depression prior to reaching Tennessee.
From there, Tropical Depression Camille turned east, stalling over the state of Virginia from Aug. 19 through Aug. 20.
Record rainfall fell in Nelson County, Va., which sits at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Twenty-seven inches of rain fell in about 12 hours, leading to flash flooding and mudslides across the county.
So much rain fell so quickly that it is possible rainfall amounts were even higher, but the rising water washed away many gauges.
Farmers created and discovered the Ginger Gold apple by accident.
Following flooding from Hurricane Camille, the orchard in Lovingston, Va. of farmers Clyde and Frances "Ginger" Harvey suffered a massive amount of damage. They recovered and replanted as many seedlings as they could find. One tree appeared different from the rest, but they planted it with the seedlings that they saved.
When it came time to harvest, they noticed one tree produced a yellow fruit instead of red. They believed it to be a cross between Golden Delicious and other varieties.
After some research, they found it likely was a combination of Golden Delicious, Albemarle Pippin and another unknown variety.
The Harveys continued planting their newly found apples, naming them Ginger Gold after Frances "Ginger" Harvey.
Having gained popularity over the years, Ginger Gold apples are now commercially produced across the U.S. They have a mildly sweet to tart flavor, and you can eat them straight out of hand or use them in baking.
While Hurricane Camille's legacy will always be one of intense damage and destruction, this may be the one good thing to have come out of such an intense storm.