‘Braeburn’ apples were discovered in 1952 as a chance seedling growing in a New Zealand orchard. The parentage is unclear, but both ‘Lady Hamilton’ and ‘Granny Smith’ apples were growing on nearby trees. Produces medium-sized yellow fruit. Self-fertile but production is improved when planted with Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Winesap.
‘Fuji’ was developed in Japan, but is an all-American cross of ‘Red Delicious’ and ‘Ralls Janet’. A very attractive modern apple, crisp, sweet-flavored, and keeps well, which is why they are often available in the grocery store. Requires Cortland, Gala, Golden Delicious. Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp.
‘Gala’ apples were discovered in 1934 in New Zealand and made their way into the U.S. market in the 1970s. Fruit is pale golden yellow with red stripes, with a firm, crisp interior that is mildly sweet and vanilla-like. Has thinner skin than most. Self-fertile, but production is improved when planted with Cortland, Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Winesap.
‘Golden Russet’ produces a small apple that keeps well and is very versatile for eating, cooking and juicing. The origins of Golden Russet are not clear but it arose in upstate New York in the 19th century, possibly derived from an English russet variety. Golden Russet was grown on a commercial basis but fell out of fashion, however, it has enjoyed a resurgence of interest because the strong-flavored juice is ideal for cider and hard cider production. Requires, Cortland, Fuji, Granny Smith, or McIntosh for pollination.
‘Granny Smith’ apples originated in Australia in 1868 when Maria Ann (Granny) Smith found a seedling growing by a creek on her property and found the light green fruit to be great for both cooking and snacking. Self-fertile, but production will increase if planted with Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Russet, Honeycrisp, and McIntosh.
‘Honeycrisp’ has it all — flavor, crispness, and storage life of up to 7 months. Mid to late season apple ripens in late September. Considered one of the best. Requires Cortland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, or Granny Smith for cross-pollination.
One of the most favored grown or eaten anywhere, ‘McIntosh’ apples are soft, sweet, and juicy. Ripens early to mid-September. Self-fertile. Good pollinator for ‘Cortland’.
‘Prairie Spy’ was one of the first apples to come out of the University of Minnesota breeding program, selected in 1923 and released in 1940. This apple was bred specifically for cold hardiness and produces fruit great for fresh eating or baking, holding its form well in pies and storing well through winter. It is a large, attractive apple with yellow skin streaked red and speckled with pretty white lenticels. The creamy white flesh is firm and dense with an excellent, well-balanced flavor. Very cold hardy, this tree is vigorous and fruits reliably. Resistant to cedar-apple rust.
‘Red Delicious’ produces medium-sized, striped to solid red fruit. Light yellow, crisp and sweet flesh. Fresh eating and salad variety. Semi-dwarf (12-15’ tall, 14’ wide). Late blooming. Pair with ‘Yellow Delicious’ or ‘Honeycrisp’.
‘Yellow Delicious’ produces medium-sized, bright golden-yellow fruit. Firm, crisp and juicy flesh. Good for fresh eating and cooking. Semi-dwarf (12-15’ tall, 14’ wide). Late blooming. Pair with ‘Red Delicious’ or ‘Honeycrisp’ for pollination.
‘Cortland’ produces large red apples that are extra juicy, with a tangy sweet-tart flavor. Excellent in fresh salads, as flesh does not brown after cutting. Good eating, canning, and pie apple. Ripens in mid to late September. Plant with ‘McIntosh’ for pollination.
‘Winesap’ is an old apple cultivar of unknown origin. The apples are sweet with a tangy finish. It can be used for eating, cooking, or making juice. It is very resistant to mildew. dark red, round, medium-sized; the skin of this apple is firm, and the flesh is crisp and exceptionally juicy with a creamy yellow hue. ‘Winesap’ apples are highly aromatic with a balanced sweet-tart taste and get their name due to their distinctive spicy wine-like flavor. Pair with Braeburn, Cortland, Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith, Yellow, or Red Delicious.
Semi-dwarf trees grow 15’ high x 15’ wide.
Trees requiring cross-pollinators should be planted within 50′ for semi-dwarf and 20′ for dwarf varieties– to ensure pollination.
PLANTING: Amend soil by mixing up to 50% compost with existing soil.. Plant tree so soil level in container is level or slightly higher than surrounding soil. Water in to remove air pockets around roots and mulch with wood chips. The first season, water regularly to establish tree.
FERTILIZING: Adequate nutrition is essential for quality fruit production. The best thing you can do is top-dress with compost every year. A general rule of thumb for adding additional fertilizer is to apply a combined 2/3 pound of bone meal and 1/3 Texas greensand to each tree the first year, double that the second year, and triple the third and subsequent years. Fertilizer should be broadcast on the soil surface around the drip line of the tree. The “drip line” is the circular line at the outer ends of the branches.
SCAFFOLD TRAINING: Improperly trained fruit trees have very upright branch angles which can result in excessive vigor and serious limb breakage under a heavy fruit load. Larger branches can be spread out using short wooden boards with a notch cut in each end to catch the branch. Hanging weights on branches or tying it down with string wrapped loosely around the limb are other useful methods for spreading branches. All upright growth from scaffold branches should be pulled down to a horizontal position or removed.
PRUNING: Pruning fruit trees during winter dormancy will invigorate the tree and cause it to grow and branch more the following season. It’s best to do dormant pruning in late winter or early spring, after the risk of severe freeze is over. Be sure to remove any dead or diseased wood also. After the tree resumes growth in the spring, continue to train the scaffold branches of the tree as you did the previous growing season. Prop lateral branches out to a 50 to 60 degree angle. Summer pruning will devigorate the tree and cause it to grow less in that growing season.
FRUIT THINNING: To ensure good fruit size, return bloom for the following year, and to prevent tree breakage, it is necessary to thin the fruit. Every apple blossom results in a bloom cluster of 5 to 6 blossoms. Apples should be thinned when they are about the size of a dime. Cut off enough fruit so that the remaining apples are spaced 4-6” apart, and leave only one fruit per cluster. It may seem like very few fruit remain, but you will harvest higher-quality fruit, potentially reduce insect and disease problems, and increase the chances for a full crop the next season.