I live in San Diego, and want to plant an apple tree (or two)--which do you suggest?
If possible, I'd love one with tart-ish fruit (my boys are granny smith fans).
Okay... no one has answered, so I will stick my neck out. Apples are generally grown in colder areas. I am up in Sacramento, and apples are grown in the hills where it gets below freezing in the winter. I have heard that there are some warmer weather types, but I don't know them. Unfortunately, you live in a place that is gardening heaven for SOME fruits... but not the cooler weather types.
I live in the hot San Fernando Valley and have been growing an Anna apple tree since 1999. It produces a lot of apples each year; some are extremely good and crunchy and some are sort of mealy. I am also growing a Granny Smith which is still young. Currently, there are two apples hanging on the tree. The others, the squirrels got to them even before they were ripe. In a previous house, I grew Beverly Hills apples as the nurseryman told me this was a good growing apple for hot areas. The squirrels always got those apples :-(
I grow Anna and Dorsett Golden. Anna is very early and good for cooking. Dorsett is a wee bit later and good for fresh eating. I recently planted Fuji and Pink Lady so I don't know about them.
Check out the Dave Wilson Nursery site, Trees of Antiquity and the California Rare Fruit Growers and Kuffelcreek Press all have information on apple growing in Southern California.
Thanks everyone for your help.
Ketvalgal-- thanks for the website info, very helpful. I think I'll try the Dorsett and maybe also a Fuji (I'm also Sunset zone 23).
You might not have heard of planting 3 trees in one hole, but it really works well. This way you could have three different kinds of apples in the space of one tree. You just plant them in a triangle shape. What I've done with my peaches is plant an early, mid, and late season variety in the same hole so I`m eating peaches over the entire growing season. You could do the same with apples. They don't fight with each other over space nor do their roots strangle each other. If one tree sends a branch into another's space, you just trim it off.
Hi: I asked the same question last month on this forum. I wanted to grow a colonade apple tree in the San Fernando Valley. I did a lot of research and contacted several online nurseries that specialize in growing apples. What I was told is you need to find out how many chill hours the apple tree you want to grow needs. If I remember correctly it's the number of hours under 35 degrees that the tree needs to flower and produce fruit. While an apple tree will grow in a climate that does not have enough chill hours, it will not flower and bear fruit. There are many micro climates within a zone but generally a zone over zone 6 is too warm. A recent visit to Hood City Oregon where apples flourish comfirmed that apples like cold weather.
I believe you wanted to say hours under 45 degrees (Dave Wilson), however other places say between 55 to 33 degrees provide the 'chilling' needed.
In warmer areas that is why they have developed low chill varieties. Israel has done a lot of research on low chill apples. Anna and Ein Shemer varieties were developed there (both low chill).
Naturally, I would not expect great success with Red Delicious in my area (low desert) so I wouldn't plant it to begin with.
Low chill apples do great in warm areas for which they are designed.
The beautiful thing about living in a warm area is the fact that you can grow low chill apples right next to mangos, guavas, avocados, etc (like I do) outside!
Try that in Oregon and see what happens.
Has anybody in your area tried the Pink Lady apple from Australia? It is supposed to have low chill and requires a lot of heat in order to develop tasty apples. I have two trees growing here and for the first time I got some real tree ripened fruits off of it and it is truly great tasting. I believe it requires less than 400-500 chilling hours (old model calcs). The major problem with this is that it can be affected easily by fireblight because of its prolonged bloom. It is also the latest harvesting apple in my yard. I still have some that are hanging in the tree, not yet ripe, and could possibly stay there until the first frost.
I have my favorite Fuji apple tree planted next to a rose apple, guava and a Hawaiian kukui tree. They all flourish.
You can also check with the Master Gardener hotline about varieties they recommend: (858) 694-2860. I bought 4-5 varieties a few years ago in January (bare-root) from Walter Andersen Nursery in San Diego. They have lots of info about good varieties for our area. Good luck!
Here is a link that might be useful: San Diego Horticultural Society
Thanks, all, again again!
I'm growing Anna and Dorsett Golden. The Anna (2nd year) produced quite well this season - (tart for apple sauce). The Dorsett had a few (first year) and had a somewhat "Delicious" look to it - and better for eating.
I, too would like a good "Granny" but will settle for the low chill fruits anyway.
As others posted, Ein Sheimer and Beverly Hills are also recommended for our zone (Sunset 23 here), but haven't room for any more.
I also planted a peach this past year (Bonanza) had 3 beautiful peaches (squirrels/coons didn't find em - yet).
Hope it lives.
I have a "Gordon" apple in my North inland San Diego yard. It has done well despite my lack of care. It really should get more water then I manage to give it. The apples are both good for eating out of hand and make great apple sauce.
In the past the best nursery I have found for bare root trees is Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas. Although I have noticed they have moved from their old location to the adjacent property and I am not sure if their selection will be the same come bare root time.
Here is a link that might be useful: Apples in Calif
Here is a web site that would give chilling requirements for apples, etc., for different areas.
Scroll down to the "Weather Related" paragraph.
Web site: http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/crops/crops/shtml
I live in Long Beach and I have a Beverly Hills apple tree that has been growing for about 7 years now. It is a small tree probably about 10 feet but not to wide and it has a lot of apples. They are on the tart side which may be just what you are looking for. They are firm and tart like a pippin but if you leave them on the tree they get reddish strips on them and get softer and a little sweeter. I have used them for pies but mostly for just picking and eating as I wander through the yard. I have been really happy with it and the way it produces apples, there are still apples on it now and it is almost Nov.
Jiliberto, great link -- VERY useful guide to varieties for the various parts of CA. In particular, it helps to break up the Southern coast, the central coast, the northern areas north of Santa Rosa, the deserts, and the valleys, because the "northern" vs "southern" cal distinction is very overbroad, and as the list shows, there is much overlap in varieties depending on area.
Here in Walnut Creek, our friends have had some of the sunburn and early drop problems, and we get much less chilling than Santa Rosa, so I think we'll look at the "inland valley" guide -- we should be comparable for this purpose to central valley temps, though slightly less hot and cold, but closer in climate than to the coast or the northern climates.
Thanks for that link!
Just plant your favorite variety and ignore the chilling hours requirement. Strip the leaves off by hand by say, February, and it will fruit just fine. It may not taste like back east, but will be much better than anything in the supermarket.
A fellow CRFG member in South Orange County has over 100 apple varieties that do quite well. His secret is to have just one variety per rootstock instead of multi-grafts.
Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Apples in the City
The disadvantages to using only one variety per rootstock is that you will have to spend more to buy rootstocks even if the scionwood are free, unless your rootstocks are also free. If you graft unto a seedling rootstock, it takes one to two years longer for the grafted variety to bear fruit compared to grafting on a branch of a mature tree. Grafting on a branch of a mature tree usually will bear fruits the next season, and in most cases with my apple grafts, they also bear fruit the season they are grafted (I usually snip off the blooms to prevent this early bearing). If you have hybridized seedling and would want to have it bear fruit very quickly, graft your hybrid seedling unto a branch of a mature tree, and you will know much earlier the taste.
There are certain advantages to using only one variety per tree but to achieve the most number of plants per unit area, the tree must be spaced really close together and this means summer pruning faithfully every year. If hedge-row type of closely spaced trees are to your liking as in the case of trellises or hedges, then this is the best approach. You can insure that the growth of most of your trees are easier to control if only one variety per rootstock, but there is stil danger of one variety dominating over another just like in multi-grafts. If they are planted closed together, and one tree has better vigor performance on that rootstock, for sure, that variety will crowd and dominate over the others in that area, or will shade out the others. Exactly the same problem as multi-grafts. You will have to be vigilant in watching their growth.
I do multi-graft because I'd like to create an illusion of slightly bigger trees that are spaced like 6 ft apart. For example, my 30-in-1 citrus tree looks like a well-balanced single big tree, but closer look will show that they have different fruits and leaves. There is a technique that I have thought about and successfully applied to balancing the shape of trees with multi-grafted varieties, something that you will be hard pressed to do in trees that are single grafts but planted close together. My technique is to continuously graft over the vigorous branches with the less vigorous varieties, and then graft the vigorous varieties unto the less vigorous branches. If you don't have much time and would graft only once in a while and still achieve more cultivar packing, graft the most vigorous one to grow towards the north side, and the less vigorous one pointing to the south. The more heat tolerant variety should be grafted to grow towards the west and the one with the same vigor but less heat tolerant should be to the east. I also do grafting according to frost protection as with my citruses. The mandarins would be on the top canopy, oranges and navels on the middle, lemons would be in the lower middle, and then the limes and grapefruits would be at the bottom. Yes, you can keep the grapefruits from becoming a giant branch. None of my trees are lopsided using this technique.
Definitely I would use single variety per rootstock if I have more land, or if my whims would change to hedge type planting.
I don't dispute the advantages of multi-graft, especially in a small yard. But Frank reports that he has much better results getting high-chill apples to fruit in his area's measly 250 or so chill-hours when they're grafted one per rootstock. He does not know why, but the multi-grafts fail much more than the single-grafts. Using that method, he can get just about any variety he tries to fruit (OK, he's having problems with Pitmaston Pineapple, but about 100 others have done well). And yes, he has a huge yard.
Luther Burbank would have hundreds of cherry grafts on one tree, as it saved walking time and made for controlled conditions. But in Sebastipol, he didn't have to worry about chilling hours.
That is nice to know about the high chill apples getting fruits when grafted unto a single rootstock, the principles of inducing the tree to bloom and fruit by stressing can be easily done. Of course when there are other cultivars that gets to bloom first on the same stock as in the case of multi-grafts, those that have high chills would have their nutrients and hormones diverted to those that are quicker to be induced.
I think I may have the technique for multi-grafted trees to behave like the single grafts without much interaction with the other grafted cultivars on the same stock, and thus achieving the same performance that he got, but the high chills would still bloom even on the multi-grafts. The technique is called bark inversion. If you take out a band or a ring of bark on the main stems that goes to each variety, tkae them out, turn 180 degrees and put them back, that would then minimize interaction and reallocation of nutrients, and so in effect will be equivalent to single variety behavior with minimum chemical interactions with the other cultivars. Bark inversion is one lazy way to keep your trees very small but the fruits become bigger, and the tree becomes productive much earlier. Have been practiced in citruses, avocadoes and mangoes. You can google up the "bark inversion".
By the way, vanJ was asking about a columnar tree. I have Scarlet Sentinel (which is green here) growing in a pot here in Zone 9, and it fruits just fine. Nice sweet (huge) crunchy apple. Ignore what the nursery tells you and plant what you want- for years they told me Fuji was too high a chill hour to fruit here.
Thanks for the bark tip Joe- you may have saved me from planting 50 extra trees!
Ron Lombaugh also cited a study that unusually wet winters wash the blooming inhibitors off the tree, causing heavy bearing like we had after the warm, wet El Nino year of 1995-96, which blasted all records in the San Juaquin valley. "Experts" had predicted stone fruit crop disaster because the lack of chilling hours. I'm wondering if you can get the same results with a sprinkler...
I will have to remember that note about sprinkler, will make for a good yard experiment, although we have about 1100 chilling hours average. I though have a very high chill columnar apple (needs>1500 chilling hours) which will never bloom unless I wrap my foldable ice box around it, then dump the unused ice from my icemaker come late winter. You can see the foldable ice box in my web page in this forum. I might try using sprinkler to see if it will work on this hard headed apple tree, this tree is potted and the only cultivar on a rootstock. Last year, even though we are relatively cooler than the previous year, it did not bloom because I did not treat it with my ice box. The reason why I potted this tree is really for science fair experiment for my kids and I was able to successfully get fruits from this very high chill columnar apple.
That is why I keep a very close eye on our chill hours accumulation, and only use the foldable ice box when there was not enough chilling hours by late winter, then I would compute the rest of chilling hours that is needed. I can get 24 chilling hours per day with the ice box. I Keep the tree small so that it's entire column where the blooms come out are enclosed by the ice box. Only for this particular apple. My only regret is it really doesn't taste that good, but proving that it can be done is simply priceless. The same feeling that you folks in the South would feel when you get fruits from your apple trees regardless of what the gurus will say.
Thanks for the great reference. At my last house I had a Bartlett pear that was not supposed to bear in Sunset zone 24, but it certainly hadn't read the book on chilling hours because despite a total lack of care, it set quite a lot of fruit every other year. I had planted some higher chill hour European plums to see how they would do, but didn't live there long enough to see the end of the experiment. When I once again have a larger yard than I have now, I would like to try a few more higher chill hour fruit and strip the leaves.
Don't forget that lack of chilling hours may not be the reason the apple doesn't fruit. Maybe you're just being too nice to it- try shutting the irrigation off, don't feed it, maybe even sick a borer on it (kidding). The thing is to stress the tree. Some people are surprised their tree gives tons of fruit one year and then dies the nest. That flush of fruit was a diseased tree's last gasp. So the trick is to make it think it's in jeapordy without actually letting it die...
There is also a chemical that you can spray on your temperate fruit tree if at near the end of the chilling hours accumulation season, just before budswell, you did not have enough chilling hours. It helps break down some of the tree's chemicals or hormones that keeps the fruit tree from blooming. It has been successfully used in the tropics along with mechanical or chemical defoliation techniques.
The name of the chem is Dormex. Below is a link ti guidelines of how much to use depending upon how much hours you needed.
Here is a link that might be useful: Not enough Chilling hours?
Wow! I just noticed that there was some more activity on my thread...
Kevin, your online book is about the coolest thing I've seen in forever! I just spent the last hour reading (I still have more than half to go) and an hour of my time this late at night is precious! (it's sleeptime if my nursing baby allows it)
I am so excited, I can't wait for those bare-root trees to be ready to buy. I'm thrilled to have seen your info now, at the perfect time, and I'm definitely going to plant more than the one or two apple trees I was considering.
Uh-oh, sounds like you got it real bad. Quick, save yourself now while there is still time...I started out much like you, and now I'm hooked.
I've had Anna and Dorsett Golden for about 5 years now. The Anna is much more prolific, has actually 2 fruit bearing seasons. In fact it's hard to dormant spray 'cause it seems to always have fruit or flowers. Before you buy, check the cross pollination requirements.
I have them in my west side yard, and the Anna is about 15 ft tall. I bought them espalied, so they're between the concrete wall and the sidewalk, about 3 ft wide space. My only problem with critters is the possums, but I'm hoping they're eating snails and slugs as well as my apples.
It's wonderful having fresh apples!
I grow several apple trees in Thousand Oaks.
Included are Fuji, Gordon, Gala, Beverly Hills, Granny Smith, Big Green (Sundance), Anna, and Dorsette Golden.
By far the most consistantly good yield and good quality comes from the Anna tree. That is hands down my first choice for anyone that is only going to grow one variety in southern California. It's character is most like an exceptional Red Delicious. Second choice is Dorsette Golden. Most like a Golden Delicous. Third is Big Green (also known as Sundance). It is in character much like Granny Smith but sweeter. it is an excellent eating and exceptional pie apple. Big Green even improves in flavor when stored. It is an exclusive variety of Johnson Nersury in Elijay, Georga. Fourth choice is Gala. Gala is an exceptional apple, the tree does well here and fuits well, but the quality of the fruit is not as good as it is in other areas. Granny Smith does very well here. It produces a little better than Big Green, and the Granny Smith fruit is as good as an grown anywhere, but Big Green is higher quality fruit. Beverly Hills is not nearly as strong of a tree as the others. Fruit quality is reasonable. If you like a McIntosh type apple it is worth growing, but it does not yield nearly as well as Anna. Gordon has never produced well for me. I also have a Yates apple, but it has never done much of anything.
Again, by far my first choice and recommendation is Anna. By the way, it was bred in Israel. It is grown there in areas that also grow bannanas.
I saw a Fuji apple at Armstrong nursery today and considered it for our side yard. Then I saw this thread. My favorite apple in the market is Gala for it's sweet taste and crisp texture. It's always a winner to me and I'd love to grow it. What would be the best apple to grow for the same characteristics as Gala?
Kevin, I just visited your wonderful site and read every link. I'm going to show Hubby the page about the teardrop trailers.
Why don't you just plant Gala? It's been grown here for years. I think Home Depot even has them bare root right now for $14. Fuji does wonderfully also, but takes about 3 years to really get going good (but is worth the wait- much better than those from the supermarket).
Thanks for the kind note.
Thanks Kevin, maybe I'll try that. The only place for an apple tree is in our side yard. We were planning to landscape it with shrubs/perennials for a more lush look, so maybe espalier is the way to go. I don't want a bare-dirt side yard any longer because of all the dust that gets blown into the house from the breezes that occur almost every afternoon here. Anyway, it's worth a try!
I live in the San Fernando Valley.
Are the Anna and Dorsett apple trees self-pollinating?
I have had a Beverly Hills apple tree for nearly 40 years.
It is self-pollinating, and it has been a prolific producer.
The last few years has seen considerable limb loss,
possibly a blight of some sort, but it still produces.
However, I do want to change it: Anna, Dorsett, or
another Beverly Hills. I only have room for one.
I also live in the SFV. My Anna does very well here, and produces lots of fruit. It is now starting to flower. I also have a Granny Smith, but so far, the fruit are eaten by the squirrels before they mature and so I haven't tasted them yet.
Might I suggest a 4 in 1 apple tree in you have room for just one tree. I have a 4 in 1 apple tree that is doing perfect in my yard, this is its second year since I planted it and it has many flowers and last year I was lucky to get 2 apples since I planted it from bareroot. The 4 apple varieties are Anna, Golden Dorsett, Ein Sheimer, and Fuji. Though I have to do some creative pruning and grafting because my Anna seems to be 75% of my tree and have only one branch of each of the other varieties. Oh, I bought my tree from Lowes, you can check it out at your local lowes but these types of trees seem to be the first ones to sell. Hope this helps.
Thanks DAX and Eloise. I am searching for an
anna tree and found only the semi-dwarf varieties
at our local Lowes. Maybe it's getting late in
the season, but I'll keep looking.
I'm not saying it was the best, but we had and relatives have "Gordon". Great production but worms are terrible. Spray spray spray, or do not "bite into" an apple off the tree. I would say you can produce nice Pie and apple sauce apples, but beware if you plan on producing apples to pack into your kids lunch.
Jack, I believe my Anna is a semi-dwarf as it is now about 8-10' tall and has very good shape. It would not be a standard because I only buy dwarf or semi-dwarf trees. There are more flowers on it this year than I have ever seen since I planted it in 1999. I do not spray, and would like to find a natural solution to keeping the apple fly/maggot/worms away.
Just happened on this thread - and now encouraged that perhaps my Anna dwarf apple is not dead. It was slow to drop leaves last fall, and perhaps it is just going to be a bit slow coming out of its dormant period.
It is about 4 ft tall now, and produced quite a few nice apples last year. The Dorsett Golden next to it, has been flowering and fruiting for over a month now but no sign of Anna - neither flower nor leaf. We are in a cooler climate, so perhaps it will be soon.
I haven't sprayed either - but I do use a strong spray of water on nearby lemon/mandarin orange trees during summer -and the apples as well - once the fruit is firmly set, the water spray is usually done early on a warm day, to allow thorough drying before night. It seems to be working well on the citrus and hope equally on the apples. Don't use the spray blast too hard, however.
Got a White Winter Pearmain, which is very prolific but the apples are mealy. Going to try making apple butter. Gala tastes great but has been quirky in its bearing. Fuji is wonderful! But the Fuji makes clusters of five apples, which need to be thinned back to three or two, to make big fruit. If I thin the tiny apples early, the tree makes more blossoms! Had to put netting over all the apple trees since parrots discovered them. Parrots like Pluots, too. They don't touch the avocados.
Speaking of multi-grafted trees, have three Pluot varieties on one trunk -- one is very vigorous and is outpaceing the others, while one barely keeps up. Pluots don't hold on the tree well. They fall off the day they get ripe, unless the parrots get them. I don't spray anything - it kills the ladybugs and lacewings, whose larvae are my pesticides. Yes, a few apples get worms. That's life. I keep ants and their aphid "cattle" off the trees by putting Tanglefoot around the trunk. Tanglefoot also discourages rodents and, one time, a possum. It's like axlegrease mixed with tar. Organic as in carbon-based.
Anna is probably the best choice as far as chilling requirements, yet Fuji is also a terrific Southern California apple. You obviously are going to have a heck of a time growing any apple in areas like Cochella valley, but in the more mild climates you can pull off a tasty backyard apple. I live in Long Beach and have a multitude of fruit trees including a Fuji apple that loads up on fruit every year. This will be slow to fruit for the first couple years (especially with bare root), but will thereafter begin to bloom and set fruit in higher numbers.
Make sure you water your fruit trees adequately. Fruit orchards require a totally different water requirment than lawns and ornamentals. You really need a good soil saturation of these deciduous fruit trees. Also, as your fruit tree matures, begin moving your minisprinklers away from the trunk to the center between trees. The root zone of your trees are not going to be next to the trunk but away from the tree a bit, also you will cause splitting of bark by consistantly spraying the trunk. With your trees in a row, put your microsprinklers between the trees.
My vote is for Granny Smith. It is a good reliable producer. If you pick the apples green they have a good tart flavor. Here in San Diego county you can leave them on the tree into late fall and they become sweeter. Anna is also a must have as it produces a lot earlier. Also need my Fuji.
I have about forty others but they are still a bit young. I am sure there will be several more winners.
We made a pie this weekend from the Anna apples we picked; outstanding! The flavor and texture held up well in a pie, and there's been a request for more from work from folks who's tasted it.
I picked the apples a bit on the green side, the seeds showing just a bit of white tips still.
5 years after I posted above, we've finally bought 2 apple trees: Anna and Dorsett Golden. They'll go in our side yard which faces southeast and gets sun most of the day. Sun-loving edibles (including tomatoes, peppers, and a tangerine tree) do very well in the same area, so there should be plenty of sun for the apples.
Looking forward to getting started leaning heavily on Kevin's comprehensive Growing Apples in the City. Thank you, Kevin!
Since you started this post 5 years ago I've even come more to the opinion that you should ignore chilling hours for apples; taste quality is #1. This year our winner is Dixie Red Delight, followed closely by Stump and Sierra Beauty. Red Boskoop is for those who want an apple that bites back. Mutsu has done well as has Nittany. Granny Smith is productive and trouble-free. Stupid Hass avocado froze again- why do I even bother?
I enjoyed reading this post because our new property has one Anna tree (which the previous owner told me is like a golden delicious), and a dwarf with 5 kinds grafted on it. Part of the little tree is dead, so I'll wait to see how that bears.
The Anna is in full bloom, very large, and I can't wait to make a pie from it!
I bought a bareroot 5-in1 at OSH in January:
I also have a Fuji, onto which I have recently grafted:
Next year I'll be looking to maybe add Granny Smith or Big Green to the mix. I use to really like Granny Smith, but I don't think I've had a good one for a few years. Maybe a backyard Granny will revive the romance.
I don't have a green thumb.
I had planted Anna about 3 years ago. It died.
I had planted Gala and Fuji 2 years ago.
Gala is barely growing, while Fuji is showing decent growth.