Tip-bearing apples

MichaelJanuary 23, 2010

Greetings all:

Iv'e been combing the web to determine if any of the following are tip-bearers (TB), partial tip-bearers (PTB) or spur bearers (SB). As I understand it, the vast majority of apple varieties are SB. Here is what I have been able to determine so far -

Yarlington Mill = TB

Golden Russet = TB

Northern Spy = PTB

Jonagold = SB?

Liberty = SB?

Roxbury Russet = SB?

Wagener = SB?

In addition, I've been looking into bloom periods for the varieties below and have found a bit of a spread depending on the source. So far, I've found the following-

Yarlington Mill = ?

Golden Russet = "group 2" (of 5)

Northern Spy = late mid-season, late season

Jonagold = mid-season, "group 2"

Liberty = early mid-season, early season, early to mid

Roxbury Russet = ?

Wagener = early mid-season

Freedom = mid late-season

Jonafree = mid-season, early to mid

It appears there would be no problems with pollination including the triploid Jonagold if Y-Mill and R Russet fall into anything other than Early and Very Late seasons. Am I missing anything, my eyes are glazing over?



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alan haigh

I'm going to take this somewhere else by suggesting that most modern apple varieties are neither predominantly tip or spur bearers, at least in the common definition of spurs (short piecs of wood less than 4 inches). Most of the apples I grow, including many older varieties, bear their best apples on the 2-year wood of pencils, which start as 6 to 12 inch upright shoots and are removed after the second year to make room for a rotating annual "crop" of new pencils. I really don't understand why most of the literature on apple production ignores this. This oversight set back my development as a manager of apple trees quite a bit.

Apple varieties that commonly set fruit on 1 year wood, like Jonathon and Jonagold are quite interesting, but they don't just bear the apple on the tips of these new shoots but all along them. Jonagold (and maybe Jonathon) seems to bear on one year wood bienally, which can really screw up grafting. You don't want your grafts sprouting flower buds at first growth! JG also produces and bears on spurs which tend here to be bienniel as well. Many varieties can be managed to annual production by favoring production on 2-year wood leaving equal room while pruning to 1 year and 2 year shoots.

Your post encourages me to make more careful notes of the fruiting habits of different varieties. I'm often told that Fuji is a tip-bearer, which it is, but it still produces the majority of its apples for me on older wood.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 7:08AM
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H-man: This last season I noticed the pencils you are referring to on the Freedom tree, my oldest, bearing fruit. The tree was in 5th leaf last season and that was the first time I had seen that phenomenon on it. For the last 2 or 3 years I've been careful not to remove those pencils in the 1'+- range while pruning. Do you suggest removing the pencils that bore fruit last season completely, they are easy to spot?

One point I've taken with the Jonagold from other sources is that the scaffold leaders on my 3rd leaf tree should be cut back slightly, a few buds, in the dormant season to promote more lateral branches off which more fruit buds can form. To do so more severely would just be removing a great many future fruit buds.

Lunch is served, gotta go,

Thanks H-man,



    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 1:28PM
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alan haigh

If the wood is needed to fill in the canopy, no. If the space is needed to let light on 1 and 2 year old pencils (by age 2 it's more than a pencil), these 3-year pieces should go if you are managing trees for cropping on 2-year wood.

Yes, Jonagold can use any help you can give it to encourage latteral branching IMO. I'm told that it's more affective if you wait until leaves have well budded out to make heading cuts. I try to pinch train headed branches during the growing season to select a leader that is straight and making sure any other shoots are sub-dominant to it.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 8:31PM
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Wish I would of read this post yesterday, I just cut some of those pencils off my 3 year old trees. Thought they were just young watersprouts

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 8:51AM
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alan haigh

I think when you get down to the smallest details, pruning is as complicated as surgery (although much less important!). I am in the process of training a new pruner to work with me and after a month and a half of steady work I still have to keep him away from the complicated trees. There are still plenty of trees that I have difficulty puzzling through after all these years and I often feel like a complete idiot when I look at some of the trees I've been managing for many seasons. It does get easier every season though.

Of course, you don't have to make it this complex to get excellent results. About the only thing that can stop an apple tree from fruiting is repeated heading cuts into all annual wood. The next worst thing is to think of all annual growth as water sprouts that must be removed. I've seen this approach many times.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Thanks H-man for both posts: Numerous more whacks on the head and this stuff may sink in and stay there. The 6th leaf tree looks like, well, a rookies first tree but it is looking better, getting easier to spray, prune and harvest. Last year yielded over 100 very nice sized fruit, this year, we'll see.

I noticed this last week that pruning didn't incite the level of trepidation that it had in previous years. Perhaps I am slowly developing an ability to "see" my cuts better as far as what the results of them will be.

Something that helped me as a beginner that I tried for the first time while summer pruning last year and last week was to lie on the ground under the tree looking up and trying to imagine how the light would penetrate the canopy. Then, I'd get up on the ladder and look down into the canopy doing the same from 3 or 4 points. It really helped me get the big picture. Somehow I think you don't have to go through these gyrations to do your work.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2010 at 9:43PM
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Wow. Man am I happy with this info! We have 4 new
southern apple seedlings and All are tip bearing. I would
have destroyed them. One is called Glory, a gorgeous
rosy red and sweet, the newest Chaz and two to go.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 6:50AM
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Well, 3 years down the road and I've observed Y-Mills being my latest bloomer of the list above at the start of the post, fortunately, Liberty blooms for a long time and Golden Russet is just late enough that between the 2 the Y-Mills gets pollinated.

Sorry to say, this year would have been the first excellent year for me to not the bloom dates for all the trees listed above but I didn't, sorry to all who may have been interested.

Jonagold had only one bloom cluster, must be screwing up royally there!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2013 at 8:21PM
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