How many apples to expect

myk1(5 IL)September 3, 2008

When I was attempting to grow apples organically I only had anything approaching success early on with my 2 espaliers.

By the time my semi-dwarf spur-type Arkansas Black got full grown and had a good year the bugs were in full force so I've never had a good gauge of what that tree can do.

I was thinking a bushel per tree would be pretty good. But now looking at the size and number of the bug free apples on the Arkansas Black, figuring I didn't start spraying until late in the year and comparing this average year to how many rotten apples I've picked up in good years before spraying, I'm thinking 1 bushel per tree might be a very low estimate.

So once I get my new trees in, they're in full production and I'm doing a good spray program how many apples should I expect?

I'm not including my 2 espaliers because I have a good idea what they will produce.

Semi-dwarf Starkspur Arkansas Black -

Semi-dwarf Starkspur Earliblaze -

Semi-dwarf Starkspur Ultra-Mac -

Dwarf Starkspur Red Rome Beauty -

Dwarf Lodi -

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OMGosh. LOL. I have four new trees just hitting production this year, two more younger established standard apple trees and four or five old ones who have intermittently decent production years. I'm drowning in apples, LOL. You will be two. I haven't even begun to harvest them, but have had ten or twelve bushels in drops already. That's why I haven't begun to harvest them. My chickens and the deer and rabbit are happy campers. To be fair, the four just coming into good production were supposed to be semi-dwarf but ended up being standards. They're heavier producers.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 10:11PM
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I have the following mature trees:

1 standard Ark Black
1 semi-dwarf Red Delicious
1 semi-dwarf Golden Delicious
1 semi-dwarf Liberty
1 semi-dwarf Winesap
1 dwarf Pink Pearl
1 Red Spire Columnar
1 Green Spire Columnar

The best year in terms of yield was about 4 years ago, when I picked about 40 bushels total, and let another 4 or 5 fall and go to the geese, because I just couldn't reach them. Obviously, I couldn't begin to use that many, so I gave many away -- I think people were as sick of seeing my apples coming as they are of extra zucchini by the end of the season.

I also have the following planted between 2 and 5 years ago:

1 super dwarf Williams Pride (first production, about 1/2 bu)
1 super dwarf Karmine de Sonnaville (first production, looks to be close to a bushel)
2 Semi-Dwarf Red Delicious
2 Semi-Dwarf Golden Delicious
1 dwarf Gala
1 dwarf Fuji
1 dwarf Braeburn
1 Semi-Dwarf Jonathan
1 Semi-Dwarf something sold to me as 'Granny Smith' -- but it just had it's first crop of red/yellow striped apples -- fairly tasty, sort of like Jonathan, but definitely NOT Granny Smith -- oh well, what do you expect from mass merchandiser trees, the actually kind you think you bought? What it really is, I'll probably never know.

I would say you can get 10-12 bu from a standard, probably 6-8 from a semi-dwarf, up to 5 from a dwarf (depending upon HOW dwarf). I got about a bushel and a half from my 2 columnars, just picked them last weekend, and made cider and apple butter. These numbers are just my rough estimates, it will depend on a lot of factors.

So, what does all of this prove: 1) That I'm TOTALLY nuts -- I don't need all of these, but it's nice to have a cushion in production against bad years, etc., and 2) apple trees probably produce more than anyone can really use.

Alas, I look through the catalogs and see MANY more kinds I would like -- I might just have to start planting 2 trees together in one hole and train them so each side grows well enough to crop -- this CAN be done, not ideal, but it could work.

SE Michigan

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 6:53AM
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myk1(5 IL)

"I haven't even begun to harvest them, but have had ten or twelve bushels in drops already"

I don't think the standard size difference will be a big difference in production with the majority of these being spur types. Your total drops were what my bug influenced total hopeful estimate was.
I figured I could use about 10 bushels for myself.

Your mature set up seems very close to what mine will be. Your two spires being equal to what my espalier's have done before the bugs and what they would've done this year if I had started spraying earlier.
40 bushels in a "best" year isn't that bad.
That will fill me up and save my sister and niece from going to U-Pick. And like you said, provide a cushion for the bad years.
But it looks like I'd better start working on scrounging up parts for an apple press.
Maybe I'll sub the Red Rome for a Granny Smith (my AR needs a pollinator that I own) since it looks like I'll have plenty of apples to handle the years that Granny Smith can't be squeezed in.

I wish I didn't have borers and curculio so bad or I'd sub in some plums. But apples are the only trees that I've had these last 20 years that haven't ever needed replaced.

Thanks to the both of you, that gives me an idea of what to plan for.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 7:53AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Dennis-
What is your opinion of the flavor of the columnar apples? I was just reading AppleNut's description on the recent "columnar apple tree question" thread and it looked pretty positive. I had always shied away from them because I thought they werenÂt supposed to be as good tasting. Is your "Red Spire Columnar" the same thing as a Scarlet Sentinel? Which do you prefer... the red or the green? As for your mystery apple, I bet you could post some pics and people could figure it out?

Do you think you can do a Granny Smith in zone 5? I can just barely do it here in zone 6b. For me, they ripen in late October. Usually, most of the leaves have come off the tree (and I've had a few frosts) before the apples are ready! Good luck... it's one of my favorites.

P.S. Sorry if this post hijacks a little.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 9:04AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I don't think counting the number of trees is very helpful -- 40' spaced trees are hard to compare with 6' spaced trees, whatever the rootstock is. I would instead go by acreage or square footage. The average is something like 250-500 bushels per acre. That is .006 to .01 bushels per square foot. Now suppose you have two 50' long rows with 20' between rows. That is 2000 square feet so you get 2000*.006 to 2000*.01 bushels, i.e. 11-23 bushels. The closer plantings will give higher yield per acre, up to 750 bushels per acre for the most modern systems.


    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:01AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Oops . 50*20 = 1000. Duh. Make that 5-11 bushels.. Shows you what happens when I don't punch it in my calculator!


    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:03AM
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myk1(5 IL)

"Do you think you can do a Granny Smith in zone 5? I can just barely do it here in zone 6b."

An orchard to the south of me says they're hit and miss or they barely mature.
A U-Pick slightly to the north has them.
I was thinking about adding one later if I found room or even as an espalier because it is one of my favorites.
If I will have as many apples as I can use with or without the 5 bushels from the Red Rome I'd accept hit and miss to have GS in some years.

My AR Black is the last week of October and the GS is a week later. I'd say most years it would probably make it.

I'm still debating it though.
I'll have to think about the Red Rome more and try to find more about it.
I've never had it but if it was a popular market apple it must be good.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:13AM
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myk1(5 IL)

This a backyard planting not set up like an orchard.

Only 3 of the trees will be in a row. Otherwise it's a tree here and a tree there planting. There wouldn't be a practical way to figure it out by square feet.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 10:27AM
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Why Dennis, if the harvest workload is a problem, all you need to do is post here for help in exchange for bushels, and I am sure you will get plenty of local volunteers.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Glen -- I like my columnar apples. I think the flavor of the 'Green Spire' is better than of the 'Red Spire' -- the red one reminds me of a Jonathan type in flavor, and is sort of a more flattened apple, somewhat in shape like a MacIntosh. The 'Green Spire' is more of a classic round to almost tapered, 'Delicious' type shape, and has a red blush on the skin -- flavor wise, more sweet-tart. Both of them are fine. I picked mine a bit on the greenish side this year, but made cider and apple butter, both of which turned out great. Cider was a bit tart, but I'm putting a little Splenda in it as I drink it.

Now, about that mystery apple -- dumb me, I only got a handful, and they are gone -- ate one, the rest went in the juicer. Oh well, doesn't matter WHAT it is -- it's an apple, no problem.

Glib -- not a problem harvesting the crop, since I love picking fruit, etc., the problem was in giving the extras away. I hate to generalize, but I live in a big suburban area of Detroit, and people here are too "urbanized" (for lack of a better term) -- if things don't come pre-sliced, pre-packed from Dole or similar, they don't seem to want to touch it anymore. I've had all kinds of nice produce this year, and I've had a hard time giving it away, people here are just too lazy anymore. It's kind of a shame. If it was more "perfect" I might offer it to a soup kitchen, etc., but they probably wouldn't take it either, unless it were picture perfect like grocery store stuff WAS before they abuse it in handling.

This sort of societal attitude is reflected in the way I have had a hard time finding canning supplies like lids, bands, etc., this year as well here -- stores here carry little or none of this stuff. I traveled through semi-rural Central Michigan last week, stores there had GREAT BIG AISLES full of canning supplies, it was FANTASTIC. Part of me wishes I could move to the country like Oliver Wendell Douglas, but that's not realistic for my life. Oh well, I'll just keep planting my yard and tending my chickens (all four of them!)

SE Michigan

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 7:56PM
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