Are honeycrisps apple trees pretty hard to grow? I"m going to plant one this fall?
They are slow to come into bearing and go biennial easily. So yes they are one of the harder apples to grow. Based on what I've read and the low vigor of my plant don't get one on too dwarfing of a rootstock. You won't have trouble keeping it small.
Mine are biennial, but they fruited immediately. They have had low vigor and are in poor, extremely well drained soil.
I bought bare root on M26 and M27. The M26 is about the size I was expecting from the M27 which is nice for the small suburban lot.
The M27 is so small it is just a novelty.
They are not slow to bear in my climate- just in the middle of the spectrum. They are relatively low vigor so you should match it up to a more vigorous root stock than you would with more vigorous varieties.
Here the growers complain about it's tendency to get fruit rots, not so much biennial bearing when talking about the difficulty of Honeycrisp. I get pretty reliable cropping of it at the few sites I manage it and I don't use chemical thinners. I think the biennial problem might apply to very young trees.
I wouldn't expect it to perform in Texas as it does here- I would think it would be pretty crappy there as when it ripens early here due to early spring the quality suffers a great deal. It drops off the tree prematurely when weather is too warm and it approaches ripeness.
It would not be my first choice, unless maybe I was in Z 4 or possibly 5, but then, like many who obsess on apples, the amazing crunchiness of Honeycrisp only gets me so far. It's texture is very distinctive but its flavor, IMO, is not. Nice balance of acid and sugar but no bouquet. It also won't get you very far into winter from the fridge.
I planted Honeycrisp against my better judgment. I figured if it tasted so good, it must be a disease magnet. As it turned out, it is quite disease free in my Pacific Northwest climate where there is heavy pressure from black spot. On M26 it is smallish, just right for my situation. The apples are large and very good quality. They produce every year as I do thin aggressively.
My Honeycrisp tree produced fairly quickly. I put a potted tree in the ground in August 2010, and it had one apple the next year, 4 the year after that, and 5 this year (because I've severely pruned it, so it's an espalier now). I agree it's fairly low vigor. We have clay loam soil.
I have heard its flavor is poor in warm zones, but I know it's amazing when grown in MI, WI, and MN (where it was developed).
I haven't had any serious disease problems. Sometimes the leaves get curled-looking (not black like fireblight, but perhaps wind damage?). But, it doesn't seem to bother the tree much. It hasn't needed any treatment.
tcstoehr, what size is your Honeycrisp on M26 now (and is it pretty much full grown?)
I'm in Portland and Honeycrisp is on my list to plant next year. I'm curious on which rootstock to get and your observations will help.
Also, where around here did you buy the tree?
I have one on M26 and it is maybe 7 or 8 feet tall and wide with 20 minutes of pruning every year or two.
It was planted in the spring of 2005.
How are the leaves on your honeycrisp?
I have seen reports of the leaves looking curly and somewhat less than nice, but that could be on the east coast or in the south?
I ask because I plan to plant a honeycrisp in my front yard, so I'd like it to be ornamental looking also.
I don't have a picture handy, but my tree is in the very front of my house right next to the sidewalk. It looks fine. It doesn't get scab or powdery mildew.
I don't know if I'd say its ornamental, especially with the kaolin clay impregnated nylon footies on the fruit through the summer.
Has anyone tried growing Honeycrisp in hot weather areas? I keep hearing they don't do well, but I'm curious if anyone has any first hand experience.
The description from Kuffel Creeks states that they do well in their heat:
"Honeycrisp University of Minnesota, 1962 Yes, you're reading right; the same Honeycrisp you see in the supermarket. Word is spreading like wildfire that it does very well in hot climates, and the ones we picked from our orchard this year were WONDERFUL! It was a stinking hot September, well over 100 since Labor Day, but the apples we picked were sweet, juicy, very crisp, a bit denser than in the store, but very, very nice with not a mark on them. Oddly enough it is famous for being hardy though the bitter winters of the upper Midwest, but it is not the first Northern apple to do well here (see Wealthy). ... We're proud to be one of the first nurseries to list it as tested good for Southern California."
I'm expecting fruit for the first time from mine, so maybe I'll know the answer later this year.
Murky, that's great, thanks. I know bagging the apples may it look funny, but besides that, glad to hear your tree looks fine.
I received my bare root Honeycrisp on M26 from Raintree this week.
I can also confirm it looks the same as other apples on M27. In fact I also received an Akane on M27, which was larger caliper and more vigorous looking than the Honeycrisp on M26. (and I thought Akane was a rather low vigor variety too?..)
Any concerns I had of the Honeycrisp being too large for my small front yard have been put to rest :)
My Honeycrisp are from Stark's, on M7 with a 111 interstem. Very slow to bear--eight years for the first decent crop last fall, in heavy soil. But it was an awesome crop, with big apples. I do have some problem with brown pit. I was impatient, ready to burn them a year ago, but it was worth the wait. Fuji on M7 also waited this long to bear, but also well worth the wait. What a crop--we are still eating them from storage.
One strange characteristic: it is a magnet for Japanese Beetles, like my plum trees.
I bought a HC from a local nursury the first year I planted. I mated it with a Harelred (suggested by the nursury). After a few years I added a Fireside to pollinate the Harelred since the HC has never had a single bloom. pests hit the leaves on the HC pretty bad but leave the other two alone. I think the best thing I have done for the HC was graft Enterprise onto it so it could have some decent foliage.
HC apple are sweet and crisp, but weak on actual apple flavor. When we eventually move I will not be planting an HC. I may graft an HC branch onto a stronger variety tree, but keep it less then 25% of that tree.