Planting Apple trees, need advice...

Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)August 22, 2013

I've ordered three apple trees for planting in Spring 2014. I've never grown a hard fruit tree before (just a mulberry bush/tree and a walnut tree) and realize that there may be special procedures to follow when planting them.

Would anybody like to share advice for novice fruit tree growers about planting/mulching, tending/caring, and pruning the trees?

Info about the trees:
Northern Spy, MM106 Rootstock, 1 year old, 4m mature height
Golden Russet, Bud. 118 Rootstock, 1 year old, 6m mature height
Rhode Island Greening, G. 16 rootstock, 1 year old, 2.5m mature height.

Regarding the various height and space requirements: I'm very positive these spots are where I'd like to place the trees (North west side, North Side, and South side of my property, not shaded by the house). They get relatively long hours of sunlight and will have plenty of space in these spots. Does the location matter (in relation to hills/valleys, streets, etc)?

What type of apple trees do you grow and for how long have you been growing them? What was your biggest success, and mistake?

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I have limited experience growing (species-specific) apple trees but grew trees from seed for a neighbor via the winter sowing method. I can report that I had 100% germination from the seeds and the trees are now planted in my neighbor's orchard.

My best guess would be to separate the trees by no less than 10-12 feet. That's based on the fact there's an orchard in my family that dates back more than 100 years. I'm assuming full sun is best, based on what I've seen & experienced over the years.

Wishing you the best of luck!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 8:41PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

I have two Fuji and two Granny Smith apple trees that I planted around eight years ago. They are loaded with apples this year. My trees are a testament to how hardy apple trees can be. Mine are planted in a row next to the street in relatively poor soil and they have grown fine. I wouldn't worry about the soil conditions unless you are planting them in very wet soil. The rootstock makes all the difference in the world as to their eventual height and their cultural requirements. You should be able to find this information about your rootstocks on the internet. That will give you a better idea of which tree should be planted where.

The main mistake that I've made with the apple trees is letting certain branches fruit before the branch was strong enough to handle the weight. Ultimately, that has produced several branches with an arched shape that becomes rather permanent after the branch has grown during the season. If I had it to do over again, I would remove all of the fruit for a few years, and let the branches grow thick enough so that the weight of the apples would not allow them to bend so much.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2013 at 8:03AM
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NHBabs z4b-5a NH

Having made this mistake once, be sure to look overhead for wires where you will plant your trees to be sure that the taller ones won't be getting into power or phone lines.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:15AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I have great luck with apple trees here in northern New England. This seems to be the ideal climate and soil for them. I have planted one domestic apple tree (whose name I seem to have lost) and a handful of ornamental crabapples (profusion, prairie fire, and American spirit), as well as volunteer wild apples on my property. My soil is very rich and acidic, so I imagine that must be what they like.

Most of my apples are growing in full sun, so yours should be happy. I do have a few that are shaded by larger trees, and these also are doing well, so I guess they are adaptable.

One thing I've noticed is that apples seem to thrive in wet areas. A number of mine are growing side by side with pussywillow bushes, in places where the soil never really dries out. I do also have apples growing in areas with better drainage, but if any of the areas on your land are excessively wet, don't worry; apple trees seem to love it!

My apples were planted and/or welcomed for aesthetic reasons, and not as fruit producers. The wildlife usually harvests the crops of apples and crabapples. Thus I don't prune my trees or do anything else to improve the quality of their fruit, so I'll leave tips about that to others.

Good luck with your apple trees. I love apples. They are very nice fast growing shade trees that don't grow excessively large, and they put on a beautiful show of blossoms every spring. Apple trees are ubiquitous in my area, and it is rare that I see a sickly looking apple. I think they are very hardy trees.

On edit: I began planting trees and managing our wild trees about 12 or 13 years ago. (Before that our property was all open pasture with no trees.) So the apples we have are young trees still, but growing quickly.

This post was edited by spedigrees on Sat, Aug 24, 13 at 12:25

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 12:12PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Gardenweed: Theres a stretch of my front yard that I think I'll be able to space the trees out by just that much. I know for the largest tree I'm going to have to give it a little more bumper room. What other sorts of fruit trees do you farm/have success with?

Tree Oracle: The area seems to be great for growing trees; there's been a stand of elm trees here for over a century or two that are all finally toppling down due to sheer height and age. Do you think the roots from the other, much older trees will affect the rooting ability of the trees? I've read that I should pull up all of the grass around the trunk to the drip line in order to assist with root growth on the tree. Is this true? Also, I was watching a few youtube videos about choosing branches for main trunks, and it seemed like the youtuber was pruning an awful lot of hardwood from his trees during dormancy. Is this normal to do if the wood droops?

Sped: It's good to here that you're growing them more for aesthetics. I'm attemping to block the view from a neighbor's weed farm / front yard with the largest tree, and am exciting for the show from such a large apple tree (I'm going to use the largest there). Do they provide much of a screen? or is it mostly just a summertime treat?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 9:38AM
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