Choosing an Apple Tree

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Dear friends,

Someone always asks us what kind of apples we grow, and I’d like to tell you all about our choices, hoping our information will be helpful to anyone wishing to start their own orchard or plant a couple trees. We have two 20-by-30-foot fenced-in orchards containing six trees each, some duplicates. This size works well for keeping out deer. All the trees are dwarf but one, and it is wonderful to do the picking while standing on the ground. Our farm is in a low area, so we planted the two orchards in different places hoping at least one would do well. They both do.

We purchased our trees from Stark Bro.’s catalog, which gives all the information needed, and spent hours choosing for pollination purposes and disease resistance since we grow organically. At the end of the second year, one semi-dwarf tree quickly up and died without a clue. It is possible a mole killed it, although we couldn’t find evidence by its roots. Its replacement also died. We are now growing a Honeycrisp in its place, which isn’t promoted as resistant to anything. Larry chose it for an important reason: It is his favorite store-bought apple! We’ll see. If our harvest is like this each year, we won’t ever need to buy apples. Thankfully, he loves them all.

Our apples ripen at varying times starting in late August with the two Stark Grandgala trees that have beautiful large apples good for eating or cooking. Then our only semi-dwarf, Jonafree, is mature in early September. The Honeycrisp hasn’t produced yet, but should also be ready in early September. By mid to late September, the two Stark Golden Delicious are ripe. They are my favorite, and this year we dehydrated many Ziplock bags full of apple slices. We also have two Stark Enterprise trees, and one Red Fuji we picked at the end of September. The two Goldrush trees were ready by the first of October, and we’ll need to wait until early November for the Granny Smith apples. When we planted the trees, we hadn’t considered how nice it would be for them to ripen at different times. Occasionally, things work out just right!

Stark Golden Delicious

Enterprise Apple

The Granny Smith Apple: They have gotten larger since this photo was taken. I usually buy them for pies. This year, I think I’ll try canning apple pie filling.

We have had good luck with our choices, so if you like, you can save yourself much research and follow our planting pattern. We live in Zone six.

Planting order for orchard No. 1:

Front row: Enterprise – Stark Golden Delicious – Stark Grandgala

Back row: Jonafree – Goldrush – Red Fuji

Planting order for orchard No. 2:

Front row: Honey Crisp – Goldrush – Granny Smith

Back row: Enterprise – Stark Golden Delicious – Stark Grandgala

Quote: “An apple tree is just like a person. In order to thrive, it needs companionship that’s similar to it in some ways, but quite different than others.” –Jeffrey Stepakoff, The Orchard