Apple advice for Zone 4

jarvinenMay 8, 2007

We're landscaping a new house in zone 4 (Michigan's Upper Peninsula) and would like to grow some apple trees. I'm looking for apple recommendations (honeycrisp, mcintosh, etc.) and tips for putting in young apple trees. We probably have room in areas of full sun for 3 trees. I've heard you should plant two of one type and one of another. Forgive the simple questions... I'm quite a novice. Thank you.

Good places to order for Michigan?

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I wouldn't call it advice, but I can tell you what I bought this year was Honeycrisp and Zestar!. Honeycrisp was a no brainer for us. I don't know anyone who doesn't LOVE this apple.
The Zestar! I bought because it was very highly recommended. I was told it's an early season all purpose apple that can be harvested up until Honeycrisp is ready. Zestar! supposedly tastes great eaten out of hand AND makes an awesome apple pie. I haven't actually tasted zestar myself so I'm hesitant to mention it, but I really do believe it will live up to the hype. You could probably find both varieties locally.
As for planting 2 of one type and one of another.... I would personally plant 3 different apples, but that's just me.
Planting tips....I don't know what you're looking for, but we used all native soil (sandy loam) with no amendments and mulched 4 feet around the trees. The pruning was already done, so we won't have to bother with that this year.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 6:15PM
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I have found Honeycrisp hard to grow but keep trying, A good early apple is the Lodi. I'm trying a Zestar this year. Really hardy apples are Duchess, Heyer 12, Yellow Transparent and some others. I also like Crimson Beauty, McIntosh, Marlin Stephans, Jonathan, Beacon, Milton, Harlason...
Get the right rootstock, seedling or antonovoka is the hardiest. Dwarves can die in a cold winter or bad storm. Good luck, plant an edible crab too as a pollinator. Cary

    Bookmark   May 9, 2007 at 10:46PM
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wisconsin_steve(4b W. WI)

I live in northern zone 4 in western wisconsin. If I had to choose just 3 trees, my first choice would definitely be Honeycrisp. It grows very good apples in zone 4. The complaints about it that I have heard come mostly from people growing it further south. It is a moderate sized tree even on standard rootstock. My second choice would be Zestar. It is an excellent earlier (late August) apple. and bears fruit at a young age even on standard rootstock but it will grow to be a quite large tree. The third apple is harder. If you want a good sweet eating apple, try Regent. For pies, a tart apple like Haralson would be a good choice. Sweet Sixteen is also an excellent eating apple, although the trees are more difficult to train and prune since it likes to grow up like a pear tree. It also takes quite a while to begin fruiting. I hope this helps. - Steve

    Bookmark   May 10, 2007 at 11:50AM
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MonkeyK(Minneapolis, MN)

For those of you who are partial to Honeycrisp and Zestar, what would you recommend for pollinators? It seems that Honeycrip and Zestar production are too far appart to pollinate each other.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:47AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'd be eating Honeycrisp apples this fall if a rabbit hadn't chewed my tree to death!

Over in La Crescent, MN...during the fall, you can try about every apple under the sun. They have a ton of different varieties. One reason i only have 2 apples and don't plan to grow anymore. I still think you can't beat McIntosh for wife and i love that apple. Too bad the season is so short before they turn mushy.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 2:10PM
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My choices for your climate would also be Honeycrip; the Zestar sound fine although I have not tried it, and Sweet Sixteen is a delight and worth a little extra trouble to spread the branches. Almost all apple trees can benefit from branch spreading while young. Very early apples like Yellow Transparent and Lodi (I prefer Y.T.) are excellent for culinary uses like applesauce and pies, but would not be the first choice of most people for fresh eating. It is not so that you should plant 2 of one variety and 1 of another. Plant three different trees if you want to.

For Monkey:
Blossom date of an apple has little to do with its ripening date. My early Y.T. blooms with all the others, but ripens much earlier. Pollination on apple trees is rarely a problem if you have 3 or even 2 trees -- unless one of them happens to be a pollen-sterile triploid. Even then, any other apple trees or decorative crabs in the neighborhood can take care of pollination, since pollinating insects travel far and wide to do their job.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 2:18PM
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I'll chime in on the recommendation for Honeycrisp. There's an orchard right near me and their Honeycrisp apples were wonderful last fall. Honeycrisp is supposed to do best in a climate with cool nights during harvest which is why it does so well in the upper midwest. I planted my own Honeycrisp last year and I hope to have fruit soon (although probably not this year yet as it's a very small tree). I bought mine from Jungs as they have an outlet store right next to my house. You can mail order from them too but I don't know what the quality is like through the catalog.

I didn't worry about planting a second (or third) apple tree as I had a decorative crabapple already. The decorative crabs make great pollinators as they have a long bloom time. It turned out I didn't even need my own crab as the city planted two crab apples just over my back fence.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:16PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


Thats by Madison i think. Do they carry a lot of trees at the store there? I'd like to stop there next time i'm in the area.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 4:32PM
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Yep, Jungs has three stores near Madison. I go to the one on the west side just off Verona Road. The bareroot room is open now and they have a lot of nice looking trees, but they were out of the dwarf Reliance peach when I was there last weekend, although I'm sure they'll get more in soon. I've had good luck with their trees and they usually have a good selection.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:54PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Good to know. I might be down that way possibly soon. I'll stop if i do. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:28PM
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I'd like to throw my vote (for what it's worth) for Wealthy. It seems to do well wherever it's tried, from Canada to Nicaragua.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 10:31PM
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I'm in Green Bay, WI and grow a lot of different varieties. I really like Honeycrisp, Paulared, Sweet 16, Cherry Cox, Yellow Bellflower, and Hudson's Golden Gem. Jungs is a good source for trees. The closest store for you is Steven's Point but call ahead to make sure they have their bareroot stock out. You can order online too. I've also bought a lot of bareroot from Maple Valley Orchards in Gillett, WI. The trees are grown their so they should do well for the UP.
Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: apple trees at Maple Valley Orchards

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:41PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


I stopped @ Jungs yesterday. Good selection, but i didn't see apples, just the crabs? Ended up buying some strawberries, Earliglow and Honeoye... I noticed they were sold out of Reliance peaches, but still had some other varieties. Also had a lot of cherries. Was tempted to grab a Danube... but i didn't.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 3:59PM
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I'm surprised you didn't see the apple trees. I didn't look for any this year but I thought they were on the other side of the crabapples. I hope they get some more of the Reliance peaches in although I can't plant for at least another week. They did have an apricot (Goldkist I think) but I'm still holding off on it as I barely have room for the peach tree.

I completely forgot that Jungs had an outlet in Stevens Point. I'll agree with jkring that you should call ahead and make sure they have what you want as the selection varies a lot among the different stores.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 5:41PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Probably were, i was too into the cherries, was also hurried (baby with). It was a Goldkist. Pretty cool you get to pick out your trees. They had a nice selection of pears too. I could've easily dropped some big bucks if i had more time to look.

Home Depot just got their trees in today. They now have a apple called "Hardy" ??? along with a good selection of Bartlett pears and Bing cherries/Rainier cherries. No wonder i mail order all my stuff.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:42PM
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Help! I'd like to plant a Haralson apple tree in our backyard someplace, and another apple variety or else a fruiting crab to pollinate. So, two questions:

Would Haralson and McIntosh pollinate each other?

What fruiting crab varieties would pollinate Haralson?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 12:08PM
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