Apple Tree Pollination and Rootstocks

EnterpriseDecember 6, 2013

Hi all,
I am looking to add a few apple trees to my backyard garden. I am located in zone 5b/6a in western MA. I am thinking of planting three trees: Liberty, William�s Pride, and Enterprise on M26 rootstocks. I like the idea of getting some disease resistance although I understand that spraying still will be required, especially prior to bagging. My question is: will these trees provide sufficient cross pollination? From what I read their blooms are somewhat spread out but in theory overlap enough. Anyone know if that�s true? I was considering planting Freedom as well, but from what I�ve read on this forum, the quality isn�t as good as Liberty/WP and it doesn�t match Enterprise�s resistance. Also, any recommendations for rootstocks? A local orchard owner recommended M26, but it sounds like some of the Geneva rootstocks have value. Thanks in advance.

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All four of the trees you are considering have good qualities. Freedom is an exceptional pollinator, in my recollection. Freedom is great for fall eating and applesauce and is very disease resistant in every category except summer rot resistance. Both freedom and liberty are very productive. You can learn more about these varieties with the exception of "freedom" by following the included link.

If you have deer in your area you should consider a permanent fence enclosure when using dwarfing rootstocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: William's Pride Apple

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:11PM
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All four of the trees you are considering have good qualities. Freedom is an exceptional pollinator, in my recollection. Freedom is great for fall eating and applesauce and is very disease resistant in every category except summer rot resistance. Both freedom and liberty are very productive. You can learn more about these varieties with the exception of "freedom" by following the included link.

If you have deer in your area you should consider a permanent fence enclosure when using dwarfing rootstocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: William's Pride Apple

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 5:17PM
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I like your choice. You have the whole season covered with WP for early, Liberty for mid and Enterise for late season. If there are crabapples in your neighborhood, you'll be all set with pollination. Where I live (central MA), you can't go a mile without seeing crabapples as ornamental in many yards.

I have 2 WP because I like it very much. Mine are on M7. I have to stake them but I like short trees. My WP ripens in mid Aug. I don't have the other two but have heard good things about them from other growers. Although many love Goldrush, another disease resistant, your zone might be pushing it regarding having enough time for it to ripen properly.

I enclosed the link to Adam County Nursery on apple rootstocks. You can check it out and decide.

Here is a link that might be useful: Apple rootstocks

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 6:37PM
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alan haigh

I live in southeastern NY- not east enough to get a lot of coastal moderation. When I started my nursery and orchard I leaned on disease resistant varieties, but many don't taste that great IMO, including Liberty and Enterprise.

Because fungus and insect control occur at the same time, I see little benefit in using these varieties unless you have compared it to other known great tasting varieties and find them as good to eat and use. There is a reason these varieties have not established in commercial production- Liberty has been around a long time now.

Even if I was determined to grow organic I wouldn't grow LIberty or Enterprise. To most palates these are just so-so off the tree and don't cook particularly well.

There are some very good tasting, disease resistant apples, (to my, and my customer's palates) which include on top of the list Goldrush, followed by Pristine and William's Pride, (both great for such early apples) and some of the new releases that ACN carries such as Crimson Topaz. William's Pride has the advantage of an exceptionally long harvest period- not good for commercial growers but great for the home grower. Not great for me, because I'm much too distracted in Aug. with peaches, plums and nectarines to bother much with apples.

For you to successfully ripen Goldrush there, tree best be in full sun and pruned open.

I haven't had the chance to adequately evaluate those newer releases but the ones I've pulled off of my nursery trees have been quite good.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 7:11AM
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Re. long season of WP, this year, the first pick (actually apples dropped from the tree) was 8/11 and the last pick was 9/14. It's the first time I noticed how long its picking season was. This long picking season is an added bonus.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 8:48AM
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jayco(5b NY)

I'm in NY also 5b/6a and this year we had our first good harvest off our Goldrush tree. I guess they could've stood a bit longer on the tree, but I love the flavor and would personally select this variety first. I only spray 2x a year in spring for cedar-apple rust; my tree does get full sun. Pollination should not be a problem as there are so many apples/crabs in MA. Unless you are in an unusually tree-free area.

A fruit tree is a lot of work and buying apples is pretty cheap in our area. So
you might want to make sure you really like the varieties you choose before planting.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 9:24AM
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alan haigh

I had a customer years ago in Lakeville, CT that had a landscape designer place 50 Liberty apples on M7 root stock in the orchard their. Also 50 Reliance peaches and 50 Moonglow pears.

Nice site that on a good year would produce heavy crops of super-market pristine Liberties. They literally couldn't give the suckers away. Yet I know of some here who love their taste. I always say they are the lucky ones because it is such a grower friendly apple, aside from its strange growth habit, which includes a reluctance to set nice secondary and tertiery wood.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 12:09PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I agree that WP is an easy choice- good flavor for an early apple and a long window- I picked it from 8/3-8/27 this year.

Liberty is OK, not great. Two other September apples which were much better are Kidds Orange Red and Sweet Sixteen. Neither is a modern bred scab-resistant apple, but both are pretty disease resistant (with at least some resistance to scab) and so far I've grown both without fungicide. KOR is a parent of Gala and is just as sweet (or more so) with more flavor. Sweet Sixteen comes from the same breeding program as Honeycrisp and has some common ancestry (Northern Spy). The Sweet Sixteen sometimes has a very interesting flavor, almost like artificial cherry candy, so you may want to try it first to see if you like it. I loved it, but some don't. When I don't detect that flavor, which seemed to happen when I picked it a week or so early, it was just a nice sweet-tart flavor.

When I've gotten Enterprise from local orchards, it has been nice and red, but not very flavorful. It kept for a while, but never tasted like much to me. Some people on the forums like it, and I believe that they said it needs to hang for a while after it gets red (which the orchard probably didn't). Goldrush is great, though you may not fully ripen it in OH. This year, mine were good, but not great like last year. Of course, they aren't in sunrise to sunset sun (such a thing doesn't exist in my yard due to the curve of the land, neighbors houses & trees, etc).

Two other good modern scab-resistant apple:
Sundance- large, crunchy and tart-sweet. They are earlier than Goldrush, but still pretty late. There is plenty of sugar in these, but you need to be able to handle some tart to like these though.

Florina Querina- I'm not growing this one yet, but I had it from a semi-local orchard this year. Actually, the orchard is further north, on the border of zone 5b/6a. The apples were dark red, and very crisp/crunchy. They reminded me of a Fuji, but were more flavorful, with a perfumed flavor. Almost everyone who tried them really liked them, while only my mom preferred Sundance.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 12:26PM
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If I understand what many of you are saying, really enjoying the apple variety is more important than disease resistance. I think the disease resistant varieties are seductive initially because I don't know enough about apple diseases and pests yet, but longer term as I keep learning, its worth having trees I like. It sounds like WP is reasonably good, although I haven't been able to try it myself yet. I guess I know Liberty and especially Enterprise are not great tasting, but I was thinking I could use them for cider and cooking/baking, although I can do that with varieties that have better taste too. I've read so many great reviews of Goldrush that I think I'll add it, see if it will ripen here. I'm also taking another look at other varieties instead of Liberty/Enterprise. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 1:58PM
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alan haigh

You will find Goldrush to be exceptionally good as a cooker, I think. It's high acid and firm texture make it a pretty exciting addition to pies, compoties or whatever. N. Spy also is great for cooking as is Jonagold.

Scab and cedar apple resistance are also in Arkansas Black, Ashmead's Kernel, Golden Russet, Roxbury Russet, Saint Edmonds Pippin, Spartan, and old strain Stayman amongst others, according to Tom Burford's list. These are all very nice apples that should do well where you are. Ash is my favorite heirloom for flavor, but may not be a consistent cropper.

If you add the fungicide Immunox (myclobutanyl) with your first two (and probably only) insecticide sprays, you can probably grow and harvest any apple you want.

In case you are interested, here is a spray schedule that should work for you.

Alan Haigh- The Home Orchard and Nursery Co.


Low Spray Schedule for Home Orchards in the Northeast

Here's my spray schedule for the scores of orchards I manage around SE NY adapted for home owners managing a few fruit trees. It has functioned well for me for over 2 decades, although J. Beetles and brown rot of stone fruit increases the number of sprays and necessary pesticides some years some sites. Stink bugs are also an increasing problem requiring more subsequent sprays when they appear. Time of spray is based on apple bloom as that is the predominant fruit here but I generally get away with spraying all trees at the time I spray apples.

Please note that pesticide labels must be read before their use and my recommendations do not override the rules on the label. The label is the law. This document only communicates what has worked for me and your results may vary depending on local pest pressure, which may require a different spray schedule.

Dormant oil (this is optional if there were no mites or scale issues the previous season, which is usually the case in home orchards). Do oil spray somewhere between the point where emerging shoots are 1/2" and the flower clusters begin to show a lot of pink. Mix Immunox (myclobutinyl) at highest legal rate (listed on label for controlling scab and cedar apple rust on apple trees) with 1 to 2% oil. If it's closer to pink use 1%.

Don't spray again until petal fall when petals have mostly gone from latest flowering varieties and bees have lost interest. Then spray Triazide (Spectracide Once and Done) + Immunox mixed together at highest legal rates. Repeat once in 10 to 14 days.

Where I manage orchards, the space between earliest flowering Japanese plums and latest flowering apples is only 2 weeks or so which usually allows me to wait until the latest flowering trees are ready to begin spraying anything. Plum curculio seems to time its appearance conveniently to the rhythm of the last flowering apple varieties. This may not be true where you are.

If plums or peaches need oil they may need application before apples. I’ve only had mites on European plums here and never need oil for other stone fruit.

All this is based on plum curculio being your primary insect problem which is the case most areas east of the Mis. River. These sprays will also absolutely control scab, CAR and Mildew as well as most of the crop fatal insects. Apple fly maggot is an exception, but I haven't had much of a problem with this pest in the orchards I manage. This pest can be controlled with a lot of fake apples smeared with tangle trap.

If you don't want to use synthetic chemicals try 4 applications of Surround about a week apart starting at petal fall. You may need to start on earlier flowering varieties as soon as they drop petals because Surround is a repellent and can’t kill eggs after they’ve been inserted into the fruit..

Stone fruit may require the addition of an application or 2 of Indar (Monterey Fungus Fighter is closest available chemical for home growers) starting 4 weeks before first peaches ripen. Apricots must be sprayed sooner if they are scab susceptible with same compound.

Because I manage so many orchards so far apart, I have to resort to a spray schedule that is based on expectations rather than actual monitoring. You may be able to reduce insecticide sprays with monitoring, but PC can enter an orchard overnight and if your insecticide lacks kick-back (as is the case with Triazide), do a lot of damage in a couple of days..

Other problems may occur later in the season and you will in time learn to monitor and react to the pitfalls.

Good luck, Alan Haigh- The Home Orchard and Nursery Co.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 3:17PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. And thank you for the low spray schedule, that will be very helpful.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 9:33PM
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I agree about Liberty's taste, but disagree on Enterprise. When I leave them on the tree longer (picked about a week before Halloween or later) they are great, full of flavor.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 1:01PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I agree eboone. I pulled my Liberty after several years of apples I didn't like. Never could get a good tasting apple off the tree.

Enterprise doesn't produce super great apples for me, but they are pretty decent. Enough that I'm glad I planted the tree and have no plans to pull it out.

My wife made a pie out of some Enterprise apples a couple weeks ago. Excellent pie and much better than the pies I made out of Granny Smith. However, she used a different recipe, so that may have been part of the difference.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 8:08PM
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We have a refrigerator full of Liberties we're working our way through now, and in honesty I have to say it's not my favorite apple. I like it, it can be great or indifferent, depending, but it's too problematic to be your main apple, at least here.

Pluses are obvious: it's prolific and healthy. Negatives vary. It can be fickle as can be, and ripens unevenly. It's disease resistant but a codling moth magnet. It keeps poorly, except when it doesn't. It's a beautiful color, but you can't eat color.

I'm working my tree over to other stuff- Gala, Rubinette, Carousel, Yellow
Delicious, Sweet Sixteen, Jonagold, maybe Karmijn d' Sonneville as well as some others. I'd love to have 'em all but can't adequately manage what I have, truth be told.

All that said, I've eaten some Liberty apples that were just amazingly good, and I can't explain that.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 9:53PM
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alan haigh

PC loves it also.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 5:26AM
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