How much should my apple tree grow each year?

The amount of growth an apple tree should produce every year will depend on several factors.  The greatest factor will be the rootstock on which the tree is growing.  Trees on more dwarfing rootstocks will not grow as much as trees on more vigorous rootstocks.  Another major factor is the cultivar of apple being grown. Some cultivars are very vigorous such as Granny Smith compared to  less vigorous cultivars such as Honeycrisp.  Many selections of red delicious are spur-type which produce many short spurs on which fruit is borne, compared to longer shoots, resulting in trees that are up to 30% smaller than non-spur cultivars.  All that said, it is important for trees to produce a suitable amount of growth each year on which fruit in subsequent years will be produced.  Generally, lateral growth on apple trees should be in the 10-12″  length each year.  Upright growth such as water sprouts and the central leader should produce more growth than the lateral growth on the tree in a more horizontal plane.