The idea of having apple trees on your property is certainly appealing. Imagine walking outside in your yard in the fall and picking delicious fruit for pies and applesauce. Unfortunately, for many people, having apple trees in their yards is not exactly what they expect. These trees require quite a bit of care and attention if you want them to produce substantial, edible fruit. Before you run out the door to the nursery, here are four things you should know about growing and maintaining apple trees:
You'll need more than one tree if you want a good fruit harvest.
Apple trees require cross-pollination, which means that a tree must be pollinated by a tree of another variety in order to produce fruit. This means, at minimum, you'll need to plant two apple trees of two different varieties. The exception to this would be if your neighbors have an apple tree of a different variety from the one you plant. Bees and the wind can carry pollen between the trees.
Choosing a disease-resistant variety is important.
There are several common fungal infections, including apple scab and powdery mildew disease, that can destroy your apple crop if your tree becomes infected. The easiest way to prevent these diseases is to plant a variety of apple that's resistant to common diseases. Good varieties to consider include Britegold, Enterprise, Florina, Freedom, Murray and Novamac. Talk to a landscaping or tree service professional like one from Mead Tree & Turf Care Inc to determine which of these are best suited to your area.
Even if you buy resistant trees, you'll need to have them sprayed with insecticides.
If you buy resistant trees, you can probably get away without spraying them with fungicides in the spring. However, you'll still want to spray your trees with insecticides to keep worms, flies and other pesky insects away. No one wants to bite into an apple and find a worm, and if you don't spray your trees, that's likely what you'll experience.
Apple trees take several years to begin producing fruit.
On average, an apple tree does not produce fruit until it is about 3 or 4 years old. Even then, fruit yields will be low for a few years. That does not mean you can just plant the tree and forget about it until it starts bearing fruit. During the first few years of its life, an apple tree must be pruned regularly, fertilized properly, and watered during periods of drought. Otherwise, it may die and you'll never get any apples.
If you're willing to put in the time and effort, growing apples can be very rewarding. On the other hand, if you don't want to dedicate yourself to constant pruning and spraying, you might be better off buying apples at the farmer's market and planting lower-maintenance trees in your yard.