ABOUT APPLES: Malus spp.

ROSACEAE

Relatives: Pear, Quince, Cherry, Apricot, Raspberry

Apples are classified as pome fruits, and are one of the main commercial fruits from the Rosaceae family. Pome fruits are derived from a flower with an inferior, compound ovary, whereas many members of the Rosaceae family have a single superior ovary, e.g. cherry and plum. The apple was originally given the Latin name, by Linnaeus, of Pyrus malus, the same genus as pears, but apples have since been moved to a separate Malus genus. Apples, pears and quinces all originate from the areas around eastern Turkey and northwards. They have been used as a food source since at least Neolithic times, and selected cultivars have spread throughout Europe over thousands of years. Our modern, domestic apple is a hybrid of many wild species. The earliest records of grafting apple cultivars is from Greece, in about 300 BC, and this was a most important first step in producing reliable predictable trees and fruits. During the Middle Ages, peasants and monasteries alike produced many apple varieties; many more apple cultivars were produced by Europeans settlers who moved to the New world; for example, 'Golden Delicious' arose as a chance seedling in 1900 in West Virginia, and the 'Granny Smith' apple originated from a seedling in New South Wales, Australia in 1868.

DESCRIPTION

Trees vary, and there are many different cultivars, but generally speaking, they all have rounded crowns and are generally kept to a height of 8 to 16 feet. Apple trees are moderately fast growing but growth slows significantly as they age. They can live a very long time, at least a century, and there are some specimens with historical significance.
Leaves: Deciduous, elliptical, lightly serrated or smooth margins dark green above and mid gray-green beneath; fairly thick and course.
Flowers: Typically Rosaceae, consisting of five white-pink simple petals that are oval and delicate and borne in clusters. It takes about four years for fruit to occur. Pollination is by bees and insects; although flowers bisexual, most cultivars will have a better fruit set if there is some cross pollination.
Fruit: A pome; with seeds formed within an ovary situated within the fleshy receptacle tissue with each segment producing one to a few seeds. Apple colors range from green, red, orange to yellow and are best thinned after fruit set to only one apple per fruit spur. Apples probably store better than almost any other fruit. They can be stored in your refrigerator for up to 8 weeks, and commercially, they are kept in cold storage for up to 12 months. The smell of stored apples is surely something to not be missed.

CULTIVATION

There has undoubtedly been more research on apple varieties than on most other fruits, and consequently, there are more opinions out there than there is time or space to include here. Stay with the following and you will not go wrong:
Location: Simply put, they grow best in full sun; they are moderately wind tolerant, but not so with maritime exposure.
Temperature: Pome fruits are quite adapted to cooler, temperate areas; indeed, apples can even be grown in Russia, Scandinavia and the colder parts of Canada. Pretty remarkable.
Chilling: Chilling refers to the number of hours, 45 degrees F and under, during the dormancy period. All fruit and nut trees need a specific amount of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous. For example as listed: (500 hours).
Soil/water/nutrients: Apples grow best in deep, well drained, loamy soils, although they are remarkably tolerant of even sandy and clay soils. A neutral pH is fine. Trees are only moderately nutrient hungry, and many people we know do not feed their trees once they are established, although moderate applications of nutrients in the spring will increase growth and yields. Any balanced fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 would probably be fine.
Pruning: Trees need to be pruned to allow light and air to penetrate into the crown, which gives good leaf and fruit production, as well as reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Prune out all crossing branches and remove any suckers that sprout. Remember that apples can effectively produce fruit on the same lateral spurs for several years. Pruning is best done in late winter, although there is a school of thought that recommends summer pruning.
Pests and diseases: The home gardener is unlikely to experience any of the following, but we wanted you to be aware of possible problems: Apple-scab fungus; scale insects; Bronze beetle; Codlin moth, mealy bugs, thrips and various other moth roller species. Fruits can be affected by black spot, target spot, glomerella, European canker and apple mosaic. Good spacing and not crowding will naturally reduce the risks for diseases.

CULTIVARS

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of apple cultivars out there, but they all have different chilling requirements and do best in different climatic zones. Rabbit Ridge Nursery currently offers the following cultivars, which are low chill, and will do quite nicely in our area:

(Click on Apple Variety to link to that Apple)

RRN APPLE POLLINATION CHART (UPDATED 10/30/15)

ANNA x FLOWERING CRAB APPLES x DORSETT GOLDEN (Anna is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby)

ARKANSAS BLACK x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Arkansas Black is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Arkansas Black. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

CAMEO x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, WINECRISP

DORSETT GOLDEN x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, ANNA (Dorsett Golden is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

EIN SHEMER SELF FERTILE

FUJI x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONAGOLD, JONATHAN, WINECRISP (Fuji is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

GALA x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Gala is partially self-fertile, but a nearby pollination partner is beneficial.)

GOLDEN DELICIOUS x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Golden Delicious is partially self-fertile, but a nearby pollination partner is beneficial.)

GRANNY SMITH x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Granny Smith is self-fertile and does not need a pollination partner, but fruiting will usually be improved if there is a compatible partner nearby.)

GRAVENSTEIN x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, MCINTOSH (Gravenstein is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Gravenstein. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

HONEYCRISP x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, JONATHAN, NEWTOWN PIPPIN, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Honeycrisp is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

JONAGOLD x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Jonagold is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Jonagold. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

JONATHAN x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES and FUJI, GALA, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, MCINTOSH, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Jonathan is partially self-fertile, but a nearby pollination partner is beneficial.)

LIBERTY x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, JONATHAN, WINECRISP (Liberty is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Liberty. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

MUTSU (Crispin) x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, RED DELICIOUS, GALA, GRANNY SMITH (Mutsu is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Mutsu. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

MCINTOSH x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, JONATHAN, WINECRISP (McIntosh is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

MOLLIE'S DELICIOUS x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, PINK LADY, GRANNY SMITH, ARKANSAS BLACK (Mollies Delicious is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

NEWTOWN PIPPIN x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, RED DELICIOUS, MCINTOSH, WOLF RIVER, JONATHAN, WINECRISP (Newtown Pippin is not self fertile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

PINK LADY x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Pink Lady is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

RED DELICIOUS x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, WINECRSIP (Red Delicious is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

WINECRISP x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONAGOLD, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, PINK LADY, RED DELICIOUS, WINESAP (Winecrisp is self-sterile and needs a pollination partner nearby.)

WINESAP x MOST FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Winesap is a triploid variety and needs TWO pollination partners nearby which must both be of different varieties and able to cross-pollinate each other as well as the Winesap. Alternatively choose a single self-fertile pollination partner.)

WOLF RIVER x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, FUJI, GRANNY SMITH, HONEYCRISP, JONATHAN, MCINTOSH, NEWTOWN PIPPIN, RED DELICIOUS, WINECRISP (Wolf River is a Non Self-Fertile Variety and needs a pollination partner nearby.

YELLOW TRANSPARENT x MOST WHITE FLOWERING CRAB APPLES, GRANNY SMITH, JONATHAN, MACINTOSH, NEWTOWN PIPPIN (Yellow Transparent is a Non Self-Fertile Variety and needs a pollination partner nearby.

QUICK FACTS

AVERAGE YEARS TO BEARING: Standard: Up to 8 years
Semi Dwarf: 3 years
Dwarf: 3 years

AVERAGE YIELD PER TREE: Standard: 10 - 20 bushels
Dwarf: 1 - 6 bushels

SPACE NEEDED PER TREE: Standard: 30 foot circle
Dwarf: 5 - 15 foot circle

POLLINATION REQUIREMENTS: Cross with a different apple (See Chart Above)

COMMON INSECT PESTS: Curculio, codling moth, apple maggot

COMMON DISEASES: Scab, mildew, cedar apple rust

USEFUL LIFE: Standard: 50 + years;
Semi Dwarf: 40+ years;
Dwarf: 20 + years


NUMBER OF TREES FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR: 2 - 3 trees

BEARS FRUIT ON: Spurs that are several years old

PREHARVEST INTERVALS FOR APPLES

Fire Blight Spray [Early bloom time] (Streptomycin) Every day until bloom fall
Fire Blight Spray [Pre-Bloom] Copper 30 day Intervals
RRN Fruit Spray (Captan + Malathion + Carbaryl) 14 - 16 days Intervals
RRN Super 10 Max (Permethrin) Never more that Two Applications / Season

Plan on spraying every 14 to 16 days in summer to have beautiful fruit.

AN ALMOST LAST WORD ABOUT APPLE TREE POLLIATIONOLLINATION

Pollination (cross pollination) is a fancy word for the transfer of the male parts of a flower blossom to the female parts. Fertilization occurs when the male and female genetic materials are united to form an embryo which will then have the opportunity to develop into a particular fruit. And just when all this is becoming a bit clearer, a complication arises in that some fruit varieties produce pollen that is not compatible with itself; as is the case with apples. Most apple varieties need to be cross pollinated with another type of apple variety other than itself (a condition known to Nurserymen and Growers as self-UNfruitful. However, if say a Granny Smith Apple were to receive pollen from say, a Gala Apple, then the Granny Smith would likely produce a nice crop of fruit, and often vice versa. That is why it is important to plant two varieties of most fruits, and especially two varieties that BLOOM AT THE SAME TIME. And.....there are also a few very wonderful and delicious apples that we offer for sale that have a weird number of chromosomes and as a result, their pollen is sterile: this means they can't pollinate another apple, but can be pollinated by one. The Self-sterile apples we sell at RRN are limited to: Arkansas Black, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Liberty, Mutsu (Crispin), Stayman Winesap. All are excellent apples for the table or the pantry.

FINALLY, A LAST WORD ABOUT APPLE ROOTSTOCKS

All our Rabbit Ridge Nursery apples are grafted onto superior root stocks, are low chill, and will grow very well in our Climatic Zone. The following symbols are included after BLOOM TIME on each variety for your information.

** means the apple is grafted onto Common Apple Root

++ means the apple is grafted onto EMLA-111 Apple Root

@@ means the apple needs a Pollinizer; see section on Pollination above.

$$ means the apple does better with a Pollinizer

SPUR means apple trees that are naturally smaller growing, giving a more natural semi-dwarf sized tree. Spur apples tend to grow on the inside of the tree instead of the outside, making picking a bit easier.