Choosing the Right Cultivar to Plant

gala apple

Several variables should be considered when selecting apple cultivars to plant. Important factors include cold hardiness (some cultivars will not survive extreme winter low temperatures), heat tolerance,  disease resistance, time of harvest, intended uses and time of bloom. Apples require cross-pollination between two cultivars that must bloom at the same time.

Commercial orchardists must consider cultivars for an intended market. For example, processors will pay a premium price for ‘Northern Spy’ for pie filling, but there is little demand for …

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 …

What is the best dwarfing apple rootstock for my area?

The best dwarfing rootstock for your area depends on your location, soil type, and what apple production system you wish to utilize. Your location determines likely cold hardiness, vigor, and disease issues. The soil type will influence tree vigor and ultimate tree size. Your apple production system determines whether you need a rootstock which will result in a free-standing tree and what size that tree needs to be, or whether the rootstock needs to be more dwarfing and will result …

What are wood rots in apple trees?

Wood-rotting fungi cause losses over longer periods of time than most other diseases. Losses are caused mainly by breakage of branches and trunks due to a decline in the structural integrity of the wood. Structural integrity of the wood is altered by the enzymatic digestion of wood cell-wall components by the fungal pathogen or pathogens that have colonized the wood. Some of the same fungi that cause wood rot can also cause dieback. Learn more and see images in this …

Where do I purchase stakes for apple trees?

The tree stake desired and the number required will determine where you purchase your tree stakes. If using a conduit stake in a limited number, you can purchase from a local general hardware or do-it-yourself warehouse. For larger quantities of conduit, you can usually get a volume discount purchasing from an electrical supplier. Also, specialized metal tree stakes can be purchased and shipped as well. A Web search for “orchard tree stakes” will give you several to select from. However, …

For an apple tree, how many inches above the soil should I keep the graft union after planting?

For trees on size controlling rootstocks, the bud union should be 3 to 6 inches above the soil line. Remember that in some instances the tree can settle causing the bud union to become covered with soil. If the union is covered it may allow the scion to develop roots and the benefits of the size controlling rootstock could be lost. Conversely if the union is too high you may experience increased size control resulting in a smaller tree than …

Do I have to stake all trees on all rootstocks?

No, you do not have to stake all trees. Generally, since we do not have commercialized dwarfing rootstocks for most stone fruits, these trees do not need to be staked. Apples are the primary tree fruit crop that needs to be staked, but not all rootstocks need to be staked; however, all trees benefit in their early life from staking to prevent wind whipping and leaning. The more size-controlling the rootstock, the greater the need to stake the tree. Trees …

How should I choose among dwarfing rootstocks for my apple orchard?

Choosing the best dwarfing rootstock for your orchard will depend on multiple factors. Probably one of the most important is the cultivar that will be propagated on the rootstock. Cultivars vary greatly in vigor, with some being very weak growing (‘Honeycrisp’) compared to others that are very vigorous (‘Cripps Pink’/’Pink Lady’). You should select the cultivar/rootstock combination that will give you the desired tree size for your desired tree density, support system, soil, and management system.

The disease sensitivity of …

How do I determine the spacing between trees on a given rootstock for my apple orchard?

Determining the correct spacing for a rootstock/variety combination in a particular orchard is worth a lot of pre-planting thought and effort. Trees that are planted too close together for their vigor will be a struggle to maintain during every year for the life of the planting. Additionally, the amount and quality of fruit production will decline when inadequate light is available throughout the tree. On the other hand, trees that don’t have enough vigor to fill their spacing will result …