Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Apple" of My Eye

I think I have discovered a new cash crop. Agriculture today is always looking for that market to expand beyond producing wheat, corn and soybeans. Hedge apples just may be my niche market.

Others may choose a pumpkin patch. Some may raise watermelons. I'm seeing a cash crop lying along the ditches these days.

It is the height of "go-fer" season here on the County Line. I began my day yesterday with an impromptu trip to the Salina branch of Case to get parts for the drill. I have a trip to Hutchinson's Case establishment on my agenda for later today.

But most of my navigating is up and down the dirt roads, helping the guys move vehicles from one field to another or delivering lunch and supper. My back roads travels have revealed that the drought doesn't seem to have impacted the crop of hedge apples.

Many are still hanging from the branches of the osage orange trees where they grow.
Others have fallen to the ground. They make me remember my Grandpa Leonard, who believed they repelled boxelder bugs. He would gather them in the fall and place them outside the house to keep the "Byers bugs" away. (People in my neck of the woods called boxelder bugs "Byers bugs" because they were the orange and black of the Byers Hornets, where I went to school through 4th grade.)
When I saw the hedge apples along the shelter belt last night coming back from the field, I decided to investigate whether or not my Grandpa's claims had scientific validity. So, of course, I turned to Google, the ultimate source for every modern researcher, right?

And that's when I discovered that I could have my own get-rich scheme. I was driving by a cash crop and didn't even know it. There are actually people selling these little yellow-green balls that remind me of brains.
At one site, I found this price chart:
4 Hedgeapples $10.00 + $9.00 Shipping
 8 Hedgeapples $18.00 + $11.00 Shipping
12 Hedgeapples $24.00 + $14.00 Shipping
24 Hedgeapples $38.00 + $18.00 Shipping
36 Hedgeapples $48.00 + $24.00 Shipping

Photo from hedgeapples.com
 Really? REALLY?

Also from the website:  Each Hedgeapple comes with its own individual container to prevent damage to carpet and wood surfaces. Hedgeapple with container is shown at left. It is recommended to place a hedgeapple in each room or adjacent closet.
Average weight 1 LB. / Hedgeapple
Average repellant life in an air-condition environment is 3 months. Hedgeapples can be sliced in half to expedite their effects, although life is greatly reduced.

Now all that's left is finding those handy dandy containers, and I am set. Or maybe not.

Here's what I learned in a Iowa State University Extension brochure (with a nod to Eric's Dad, Alan, who works for ISU.)
The use of the hedge apples for insect control is one of the most enduring pest management home remedies. Placement of hedge apples around the foundation or inside the basement is claimed to provide relief from cockroaches, spiders, boxelder bugs, crickets and other pests.

The use of hedge apples as a pest solution is communicated as a folk tale complete with testimonials about apparent success. However, there is an absence of scientific research and therefore no valid evidence to confirm the claims of effectiveness. Although insect deterrent compounds have been extracted from hedge apples in laboratory studies, these do not provide a logical explanation about why hedge apples would work as claimed. At this time, there is nothing to recommend the use of hedge apples for pest control.
The osage orange trees themselves do provide a valuable resource on the County Line and elsewhere on the Plains. They make great fence posts.
Whether the hedge apples work as boxelder repellents or not, seeing them scattered along the roadside was a great reminder of my Grandpa Leonard. And that's priceless.

So what do you think? Do hedge apples repel bugs?


  1. Love your article Kim!
    Hedge apples are a big thing in Langdon, ND. They actually sell them in the grocery store up there as pest control. Jason and I were shocked to see this because we have tons of them on our road as well. One year Jeremy decided to make a little profit and picked a bushel basket full, sent them home(Langdon, ND) with grandpa Dennis, then grandpa sold them for him at $3.00 an apple. I'm thinking I need to head down the road a bit, pick me some hedge apples. I'm sure I could find a suitable container to put them in, and start controling some of the bugs finding their way in my house.
    Again, I loved your article. Silly me, I didn't even know you had this site on FB. I'll be looking forward to reading it from now on.
    Cindy C.

    1. Thanks for reading and taking time to comment, Cindy! I guess it's worth a try to see if they do their "magic." It's not going to cost you anything since they appear to be in plentiful supply!

  2. I have used them as pest control for crickets. I thought they worked.

    1. With the seemingly bumper crop of hedge apples lying along the ditches, it would be worth a try to get rid of the persistent chirping! Do you put them on the inside or the outside of the house? Thanks for weighing in, Linda!

  3. Wow! We have gold mine here and we didn't even know it. LOL I just found your site and love it. I am a new follower as well.

    1. I know! After I found that site on the internet, I can't help but think about all that "money" lying there as I dash past the shelterbelts on the way to take meals to the field or move guys from one location to the next. Thanks for taking time to comment. I've been enjoying your blog, too, and am a follower :-)