Apple Tree Care
Apple trees are deciduous, fruit bearing trees that grow primarily in the northern hemisphere. They prefer the dry climate and warm summers of Canada and America, and cannot be grown in the tropics, or above the Arctic Circle. There are some apple trees that are now cultivated in Australia and New Zealand.
When grown in the wild, apple trees often have thorns on the branches, in order to protect the fruit. Apple trees are also flowering trees, and it is the pollination of their flowers that will allow for fruit to grow. When planting apple trees in a garden, it is important to know that many apple trees do not self-pollinate. For this reason, only one apple tree in the garden may not be able to produce much, if any fruit. To solve this, plant several different varieties of apple trees with similar flowering times to allow for cross-pollination.
The fruit of apple trees come in many different sizes and colors, ranging from almost cherry sized to grapefruit sized, yellow and green to red. The fruit from apple trees should be eaten directly from the tree or within a week of harvest. Fruit that will be stored from apple trees should be kept in a cool, dark, moist and frost-proof location.
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Apple Tree Information
Q: Where do apple trees grow?
A: Apple trees are believed to have first sprouted in Asia, and have since been cultivated across the world. Apple trees now thrive in many areas of North America. The best results come from apple trees that are grown in USDA zones 4-8.
Q: How should apple trees be spaced?
A: The spacing of apple trees depends on the size of the variety being planted. Some varieties reach a mature spread that is more than 30'. Dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties can be much smaller. A full sized tree may need 35'x35' each, but a dwarf may only need 10'x10' space. Check the mature height and spread of your varieties and that will hint towards the amount of space needed for both roots and upper growth. Don't forget to leave enough room for air circulation and physical harvesting requirements.
Q: When do apple trees bear fruit?
A: Apple trees in general will begin to bear fruit somewhere between the ages of 3-8 years depending on mature size and environmental factors. Once fruit sets begin to appear, it may take a few more years before the tree reaches its full production and yield potential. Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees may begin to produce earlier as they will likely take less time to mature. Blooming and fruiting periods vary depending on the specific variety and which zone they are being grown in. Apple blossom periods range from early April to mid-May. Harvest periods range from late July to October.
Q: Do apple trees need full sun
A: For optimal growth, health, and fruit production, apple trees need full sun. This means that they should be receiving at least six hours of direct summer sun light per day.
Q: How do apple trees reproduce?
A: Apple trees have what are called "perfect flowers". This means that each flower has both a stamen (male part) and a pistil (female part). Pollen is created in the anther of the stamen, and that pollen eventually makes its way to the ovule where the fertilization occurs. That being said, almost all varieties of apple trees have self-sterile pollen. These cultivars need to be pollinated with the pollen of a different apple variety.
Q: Do apple trees need to be planted in pairs?
A: Almost all apple trees are self-unfruitful. Due to this fact, fruit yields can only be achieved by planting two different apple varieties. A good pollination set would be Honeycrisp and Granny Smith. You want to make sure that these trees have similar bloom periods. The trees should also be placed no more than 100 feet apart for the best results. If you do not want two apple trees, crabapple trees are a great alternative pollinator choice for many apple varieties.
Q: Why are apple trees grafted?
A: Apple trees are grafted in order to keep the genetic traits of each cultivar consistent. Since apple trees for the most part need to be cross pollinated with a different apple variety, the result would be fruit that takes on the traits of the host, but seeds that have shared traits gained from both of the parent’s genes. This means that the size, color, taste, and resistance of both the tree and the fruit will be hard to predict when planting from seed. The way that growers eliminate this variation is by taking a propagation from the tree with the desired genes, and grafting that propagation to the rootstock of a tree with a hardy root system. This newly grafted tree will keep the same genetics as the tree that the propagation was taken from. So when you buy a grafted apple tree, you can be sure that you know exactly what you will be getting when harvest time comes.
You want the best fruit your fruit tree can give, right? Good fruit comes from fertile soil, so the key is to maintain soil health. Sometimes, this means adding fertilizer, but know how to prevent over-fertilizing. Fertilizer in excess can be more damaging than no fertilizer at all.
The most practical way of checking soil fertility is by investigating the annual growth of the tree. If you inspect the branches and follow the branch from the tip to the previous year’s growth, you can measure how much the fruiting tree grew in a season. New growth is flexible and green, while last year's growth is darker (often brown) and more rigid. A mature, fruit-producing tree should have 6-8 inches of vegetative growth each year. Immature fruit trees grow more quickly, but don’t produce fruit. Continue reading
Dwarf apple trees have many advantages to standard sized apple trees. First of all, dwarf apple trees are smaller. This means that they take up less room in a garden. The reduced size of a dwarf apple tree makes it easier to prune, spray and harvest fruit. Additionally, dwarf apple trees will produce fruit earlier than standard apple trees, often only three years after being planted, as opposed to as many as ten years.
There are generally two ways to create a dwarf apple tree. One way is to specially breed them smaller. This is very hard to do and may take hundreds of years. A faster, and much more common way is to graft the tree onto a rootstock that has been selected for its dwarfing characteristics.There are several different types of rootstock, and each works best with specific trees. Continue reading
Apple varieties are sometimes divided into three categories. The first, and largest
category, are those apples bred for fresh eating. The next category is the cooking apple, and finally the cider apples. Cider apples are typically too tart for fresh eating but they give cider a rich taste that dessert apples, such as a Golden Delicious apple, cannot.
Apples are mostly bred for skin color, long storage capacity, high yields, disease resistance, and taste. Examples of red skinned apples are Red Delicious, Akane, Cortland, Mollies, and the Spartan.
Golden or yellow skinned examples are Golden Delicious, Yellow Newton Pippen, Yellow Transparent, Mutsu, Calville Blanc, and Granny Smith. Striped or multi-colored apple examples are Braeburn, Cox Orange Pippin, Gravenstein, and Honeycrisp.
The color of the apple’s skin does not determine whether it is sweet, tart, crisp or soft. Apples vary in tastes, textures, and some have very subtle variances.
Apple Trees for Sale
Planting apple trees in a home garden will allow for delicious fruit that everybody can enjoy. Planting apple trees does not differ much from planting other types of trees, but there are some special things to consider when planting these fruit trees.
The location should have soil that is well drained, since standing water will easily kill the trees. The location should also have good air drainage, keeping low-lying cold air in the spring away from the tree. Apple trees should be planted in November, if possible. They can also be planted up to the end of march.
The location used for planting apple trees should also provide for full sun access. If planting apple trees in a lawn, the grass should be removed from the planting area in a four-foot diameter circle, to prevent the grass from competing with the young tree for nutrients and water.
Growing apple trees can be a fun and rewarding experience for the home gardener. Growing apple trees is a relatively easy process, and yields delicious fruit that can be enjoyed by everybody. There are, however, many factors to consider before attempting to grow apple trees in the garden. The first consideration when growing apple trees is what size tree is desired.
Apple trees come mainly as a scion, or top portion, grafted ontoapple tree a rootstock. The type of rootstock used will help determine the eventual size the tree will grow to. Some rootstocks will produce a full sized tree, while others will dwarf the tree and make it grow smaller. Growing apple trees that are dwarfed is more common in the home garden. Continue reading
One of the primary problems faced by gardeners when growing apple trees is that they do not understand how to prune an apple tree properly. Pruning apple trees plays an important role in ensuring proper growth and fruit production. Pruning apple trees begin from the first season after planting, and contiue yearly until the tree dies. Before growing one, any gardener must fully understand how to prune an apple tree properly. Before understanding how to prune an apple tree, it is important to know how apple trees grow.
Apple trees are central leader trees, this means that there is one main upright
trunk, called the leader. All branches will sprout and grow out of this. A properly pruned apple tree should have a scaffold shape. This means that there are branches circling the tree, perpendicular to the leader, and there should be an area of about two feet between the levels to allow for light to reach the lower leaves and fruit. Continue reading