Tue, Jan 08, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Recitals make apples heavier, sweeter: farmer

Staff writer, with CNA

Wax apple farmer Wang Jui-hsiung plays a piano in his orchard in Pingtung County on Thursday last week.

Photo: CNA

A middle-aged wax apple farmer has fulfilled his dream of learning to play the piano.

However, more amazingly, his musical performances have helped the wax apples turn out bigger and sweeter, he said.

Wang Jui-hsiung (王瑞雄), who has been dubbed the “Wax Apple King” for growing a variety of huge wax apples known as “Black King Kong” (黑金剛), has been playing a piano on his farm in Pingtung County every day since last autumn.

Thanks to the music, the fruit he produced at the end of last year was sweeter and was more than 10g heavier than in previous years, Wang said.

There is no scientific evidence to verify Wang’s claims, but the farmer seems convinced he has an eager audience for his new-found musical skills.

Wang said he started to learn to play the piano in the seventh grade. To pay for the lessons, he worked various odd jobs, such as carrying bricks or shelling peas.

However, after three months, he was unable continue paying for the lessons, a development he regreted.

Two years ago, his daughter could not attend her piano lessons after she caught a cold. Aware of his musical dream, Wang’s wife encouraged him to go to the lessons in their daughter’s place.

Although he was often exhausted from his work on the farm, Wang diligently practiced for at least an hour a day.

At first, he could only touch the keys with one finger at a time because his hands were covered in calluses.

His playing was so awful that even his family could not stand it, Wang said.

However, as his practice room was next to the farm, Wang played for the wax apple trees.

“Wax apple trees don’t have legs, so they had to be my most loyal listeners,” Wang said jokingly.

After six months of practice, the farmer learned to play a complete piece of music. Six months more and he was able to play various pieces.

“My dream of being able to play the piano came true at the age of 45. At 47, I did something crazy,” Wang said, describing his decision to play music for the fruit trees.

Wang said he came up with the idea to provide musical entertainment to his trees as over the past two years, he found the wax apples on his farm had become damaged due to climate change.

He remembered one day that some Japanese farmers used music to help with farming or livestock husbandry, Wang said.

That inspired him to push his piano into the orchard and start playing for the fruit trees.

He insists that his music has resulted in a bigger and sweeter harvest, which has helped him earn more money.

A wax apple that weighs about 200g can cost about NT$130.

Wang plans to organize a recital on his farm to thank his family and friends for their support on his path to realizing his dream.

“A dream is always a dream if you don’t realize it. It’s never too late as long as you make the first move,” Wang said.

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