Planting / Growing Apple Trees in 3a

ForeverRecycleReuse(MN 4b)July 30, 2013

We have some land up north in 3a and have thought to plant some apple trees. We do not get up there often so the trees would have to somewhat care for themselves and would get water only during rainfall. The soil is quite rocky as well.

Wondering how well the trees would fair in this type of environment with lack of regular care.

What varieties would be the hardiest to plant for these conditions?

Anyone far north successful in growing apple trees?

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I'm growing apple ,plum, and sour cherry (all specific "very cold hardy" varieties) in northern MN. I guess the 1st question would be: Will you have a deer fence at least 7 ft tall around the trees that you plant? If not, conditions and varieties will not make any difference. The deer are not discerning... They will eat any and all varieties of fruit trees..... and I don't mean casual browsing. They EAT them. Let me know if you plan on putting up a major fence. If so, I will help with varieties.

My current fence is at 7 ft tall, but the fence posts are set up so that I can go up to 9 ft tall fencing if necessary. Big bucks in our area have cleared 8 ft fences to get into gardens.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 10:45PM
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ForeverRecycleReuse(MN 4b)

We would be willing to construct a fence around the fruit trees. I knew the deers would eat the ripened fruit from the trees once they begin to produce but did not factor in the deers actually eating the tree itself.

Our idea is that as more years pass by, we will begin to spend more time up there and getting a jump start on fruit trees and even a few berry patches would be a smart idea. It is now just trying to figure out the best (practical) way to do it as the land is mostly undisturbed and not regularly looked after.

My hope is to know what kinds of fruit trees will be hardy enough to tolerate these conditions so that I can buy the right trees when the season comes to a close and nurseries offer deep discounts.

Would raspberries and blueberries fare well unattended?

At this time, I am not worried about the animals eating the fruits/berries but rather establishing the plants for future use.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Of all the possible fruits that you mentioned, raspberries will be the easiest to establish. They are a tough plant. However, the list that can handle zone 3a is very short. The best source of information on hardiness is the "Norse Farms" web site. They are a top drawer cane grower. You will learn much from their site. I selected Boyne and Autumn Britten. I'm very please with the Boyne. Both for flavor and hardiness. Autumn Britten has big sweet berries, but doesn't have great flavor. they are a fall crop and frost often kills the fruit before production is in full swing. I wouldn't do those again.

For zone 3a hardy apple information you should look at the "St. Lawrence Nurseries" web site. They only promote very cold hardy trees. The trees that I bought from them were just so -so quality but you will get a great list of what varieties will survive in your area. Read everything that they have to say about cold region apples. Two things that you should absolutely learn from their site. 1) Dwarf and Semi Dwarf tree root stock will not make it in zone 3a. You must go with a standard size rootstock. Especially if you won't be around to coddle them. I have found their Antonovka root stock to be very hardy. 2) All quality eating apple trees are made from 2 different trees that have been spliced together. The root stock will determine the final size of the tree and contribute to hardiness. The top (above the graft) will determine the eating qualities. BOTH of these have to be zone 3a hardy or you trees will die. If you can't get verifiable info on both the root stock and the scion (the tree above the graft) your odds of getting a tree that will survive are slim. It wouldn't be like trying to get a tree to grow in the Metro (zone 4) area that would get watered regularly. Also, start will small trees. Larger trees need frequent watering to get established

I'm have very good luck growing sour cherries as well. Many of them have the same sugar (brix) content as sweet cherry, but their high citric acid content still makes them slightly sour. Unfortunately... Birds, bears and deer al like them. If you want to know more about them search "Romance Series Cherries" and Carmine Jewel. These are all Canadian varieties of bush cherries. St. Lawrence is also a good source for in on hardy tree varieties. I'm growing 6 Carmine Jewel, 1 Northstar, and 1 Bali (Evans).

I'd start with raspberries. If you don't win the battle getting them established, don't waste your time on the rest. Use RoundUp or some other brand of Glyphosate to kill everything in the planned planting area about 4 to 6 weeks ahead of planting time. Newly planted fruit plants just cannot compete against healthy native vegetation.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 10:05PM
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I also live in 3a. I have raised many apples for the deer. Fences area must. Siberian crab apples would be a good thing to plant. They are ultra hardy, and would need little care until you are ready t convert them with a graft or two on the tops. I let mine get above the deer line, then graft the tops at a later date. Once the rootstock is establish for 3-5-7 years the real grafted apple will develop very quickly. If you want apples fast, you can use a very dwarfing rootstock, but those trees never outrun the deer. I did exactly what you are talking about and would be happy to help out ( graft/care/etc). look me up if your interested.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:48PM
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The deer will eat the tips and leaves and sometimes even the bark from your apple trees. And your Flowering Crab trees. They won't wait for the fruit. And the rabbits will especially eat the bark off your young apple trees. If you are growing other fruit, the deer love strawberries, They eat plants. leaves, berries. Just be aware. Natures Rascals!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 3:29PM
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