Growing Apple Trees

There are a number of things to keep in mind when planting and tending fruit trees. This guide is about growing apple trees.

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Growing Apple Trees
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To me, the spring makes everything OK.

By Carrie

apple blossoms

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We have four seedlings grown from 'pips' from a South African variety. Our granddaughter planted the seeds from three she was eating. That was three months ago, they are now 6 inches (150mm) tall and in separate pots on a south facing windowsill. Do they keep their leaves over winter this first year? They are staying indoors.

By

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Apple trees go dormant over the late fall and winter, so if they know it is that season, they should lose their leaves. If it is too warm, and there is indoor light, they may not know.

More importantly, apples don't come "true" from seed. In other words, if your seedlings should grow large enough to produce fruit, you won't get the same fruit as the apple from which the seed was taken. Only scions (cuttings) will give you the same type of apple. What you get may be great - or not.

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I would like to plant an apple tree for my husband. He always talks about one that he used to get apples from when he was a kid. What is a good one to plant that you can eat apples right off the branch? Also, what is the upkeep of one? Getting rid of worms etc. He never wanted to plant one of our own because of bees. But we don't have any little kids anymore living at home.

Haley from Centreville, Md

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WOW! Thank you for all the fantastic advice!

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Question:

I just purchased a Granny Smith apple tree from the local grocery store. I've done some online researching and wanted to confirm whether or not I need to purchase another type of apple tree so they will both produce fruit. Thanks and regards!

Hardiness Zone: 7b

Penni from Hillsborough, NC

Answer:

Hi Penny,

As you know, it doesn't matter how prolific an apple tree flowers, if those flowers are not pollinated, you won't get apples!

Apple trees are either 'self-fruitful', meaning they bear fruit after pollination occurs among their own flowers, or they are 'self unfruitful', meaning they require cross pollination from another apple or crab apple variety to produce fruit. Granny Smith apple trees happen to be a 'self-fruitful' variety. That means your chances of attaining a good fruit set year after year relies almost entirely on bees. They must find your lone apple tree and pollinate all of the flowers. More trees, equals more bees (hopefully). You will have a larger and much better fruit set each year if you planted another variety nearby (within 50 feet).

Contact the nursery where you bought your Granny Smith for recommendations on which varieties will make good pollination partners for your Granny Smith. The most important consideration when selecting a second variety is to find one with a similar bloom time. This is because the first (and largest) blossom to open on each flower cluster on an apple tree is called the king blossom. It is called the king blossom for a reason-it must be pollinated for that flower cluster to produce a fruit. Ideally, the bloom time for both varieties will occur at the same time, or at least overlap. You may want to try your Granny Smith alone for a season or two just to see what happens, but you are sure to get a much higher yield if you find a partner for it.

Good luck!

Ellen

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I just wanted to thank you all for your replies. I planted just the one tree, for now. I guess I'll have to wait a season or two to determine whether or not it needs a mate. Or I can just learn a new hobby: become an apiarist! Nah.. my kids will never go outside! hehe Thanks again for all the wonderful info!

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Closeup of small apples.This is my first apple tree. This is the first fruit that it is growing. I don't know if it is one apple or many together? Any ideas?

Hardiness Zone: 7b

Christine from Sanremo, Italy

Answer:

Christine,

Wow! What an interesting picture. A fruit grower or arborist can tell you for sure, but I'm going to take an educated guess as to what could be happening. Apple blossoms form in clusters of five (or on rare occasions, six). The first, and usually the largest bloom to open is called the king bloom. If all goes according to nature's plan, the king bloom sets fruit first, which suppresses the setting fruit of the other blossoms. If all five blooms set, you end up with 5 smaller fruits, the other four blooms are usually removed in order to avoid this. Perhaps in your case, all five blooms set fruit and for whatever reason (maybe exemplary growing conditions) they all received enough nutrients to grow a decent size. As they continued to grow, the cluster of apples then developed a distorted appearance for lack of having any elbow room. My guess is that this is the only cluster on the tree that looks like this.

Still another possibility is that early in the fruit's development your area experienced a sudden short burst of chilly temperatures-maybe a slight frost. When this happens and the skin of the fruit is damaged, apples (and also pears) sometimes develop what is known as frost rings. This doesn't kill the blossom or the fruitlet, but it can cause tough callus-like patches on the skin that constrict and distort the fruit as it grows. In either case, the apples are still safe for consumption.

Ellen

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It is definately an apple tree. Thank you for the valuable information. We will look into it directly.

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When and with what do I spray two apple trees? I pruned them in February.

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By Mazie from National City, MI

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At garden center, wal-mart, Meijers, Fruit Tree Spray, it's a concentrate #17.00. read directions close. used in the spring when leafing/flowering.

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I have an apple tree, I don't know what kind, the fruit is red green with white flesh. It has had bugs, I think. They are not seen usually. I don't spray because the neighborhood kids will just take one and eat it. They are ripening way too soon and it's thought they have bugs/worms. What kind of organic bug/worm spray can I use?

Hardiness Zone: 5a

By Teresa from Peoria, IL

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If they've got bugs, probably nothing will help this year.

BUT, read up on dormant sprays for fall, and then for next year and absolutely perfect apples, read up on bagging apple trees, originally a Japanese idea, now very popular with the Home Orchard Society, in Oregon [google words and you will find them], and what they have to say about it. I can hardly wait to try it myself, next year.

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Home and Garden Gardening Fruit TreesJune 19, 2013
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