in ,

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest an Apple Tree

Apple tree with fruit1

The apple is a hardy, deciduous woody perennial tree that grows in all temperate zones. Apples grow best where there is cold in winter, moderate summer temperatures, and medium to high humidity.

There are apples for fresh eating, some for cooking, and some for preserving. Some apples are sweet and some are tart. Some apples come to harvest in summer, some in autumn.

Apples can grow from 10 to 30 feet tall and nearly as wide. They are moderately fast-growing, but growth slows with age. Apple trees can live for 100 years or more.

Apple trees bloom in the spring, set fruit, and take from 100 to 200 days to reach harvest depending upon the variety.

Best Climate and Site for Growing Apples

  • Apples grow in Zones 3 to 9. Some can tolerate winter temperatures as low as -40°F. Choose an apple tree suited for winter temperatures where you live. See Chilling Hours below.
  • Apples generally do not grow well close to the ocean where temperatures remain moderate most of the year.
  • Apples grow best in full sun. An apple tree planted in partial sunlight will not bear as many fruits like an apple planted in full sun.
  • Apples grow best in well-drained loamy soil, although they will grow in more sandy soil or in soil with some clay.
  • Apples grow best in a neutral soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Plant apples sheltered from a prevailing wind or breeze. Avoid planting apples in a low spot where cold air or frost can settle.
  • Late spring frosts can kill apple flowers. Apples bloom in late spring after peaches, cherries, and almonds. Early fall frosts can damage the fruit. Choose a variety suited to your growing region.
  • Avoid planting in the same spot where apple trees have previously grown. Pests and diseases that attack apple trees may still live in the soil.
Apple trees in spring

Choosing the Right Apple for Your Garden

  • There are nearly 10,000 different varieties or cultivars of apples. About 7,000 varieties or cultivars grow in North America. Only about 1,000 are grown commercially or in home gardens. Contact the nearby Cooperative Extension Service or a nearby garden center to learn which varieties grow well in your area.
  • When choosing an apple or apples to plant consider how you want to eat your apples; some cultivars are for fresh eating, some for cooking, and some for preserving.
  • When choosing an apple or apples consider when the fruit will come to harvest; some apples ripen midsummer, some in late summer, and some in autumn. If you have room, you may want to plant one of each to extend the harvest.
  • Check to see if the apple you want to grow needs a pollinator; many cultivars require a pollinator. You may need to plant two or more trees to get fruit.
  • Check the rootstock of the apples you want to grow; some rootstock are suited for very cold regions, some tolerate drought, some tolerate wet soil, some are dwarfing or semi-dwarfing. The nursery or grower can tell you if the rootstock is suitable for your garden and needs.
  • Some apple varieties are “sports” or accidental mutations of another variety and others are bred–meaning they are created by apple breeders through cross selection. Not every sport is productive and worthy of growing.

See also: How to Choose an Apple Tree

Apple fruit spur
Apple fruit spur

Spur-Type and Branching-Type Apple Trees

  • Apples can be divided into spur-type or branch-fruiting type trees.
  • Spur-type trees bear fruit on short twigs called spurs.
  • Branch-bearing trees bear fruit along branches.
  • Spurs tend to grow close together and so spur-type cultivars bear more fruit than the branch-bearing or non-spur trees. Spur varieties tend to bear fruit earlier in life than branching varieties.
  • Individual spurs may bear fruit for ten years or more. Standard non-spur trees bear on twigs that tend to be short-lived.
  • Spur-type apples are pruned differently than branch-fruiting apples.

Apple Chilling Requirements

  • Apples have chilling requirements or chilling hour requirements. This is the number of hours at 45°F (7°C) or less than the cultivar or variety requires each winter in order to flower and leaf out in the in spring. Chilling hours can vary from 1,000 or more to as few as 400 hours.
  • It is important to choose an apple variety with chilling hours suited to your climate and winter temperatures.

Apple Pollination

  • Most apple varieties have flowers that contain male and female parts and so are self-pollinating. These trees will set fruit without cross-pollination. However, there are some varieties that are self-infertile and require a pollenizer.
  • Even trees that are self-pollinating may have a better fruit-set if there is cross-pollination.
  • Apples can be pollinated by bees and insects or by pollen that floats on the wind.
  • Plant your apple tree within 40 to 50 feet of another apple tree that blooms at the same time or graft a branch from a suitable pollinator onto your tree.
  • Flowers that are only partially pollinated will tend to bear fruit that prematurely drops.

Apple Pollination Groups

Not all apple trees flower at the same time; some flower early in spring, some in early middle spring, some in late middle spring, and others in late spring. Apples are divided into three flowering groups–A, B, C; the apples in each group flower at the same time. To ensure pollination—even if an apple is self-fertile—plant two or more apples in the same group; some may flower at the same time as an apple in an adjoining pollination group.

  • Group A flowers in early spring and includes the varieties: ‘Gravenstein’, ‘Egremont Russet’, ‘Idared’.
  • Group B flowers in mid-spring and includes the varieties: ‘Cortland’, ‘Cox’, ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Honeycrisp’, ‘Jonagold’, ‘Baldwin’, ‘Braeburn’, ‘Fuji’, ‘Gala’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Rome Beauty’.
  • Group C flowers in late spring and includes the varieties: ‘Court Pendu Plat’, ‘Edward VII’, ‘Mother’, ‘Sheepnose’.

Apple Rootstock and Tree Size

  • An apple tree can be a standard or full-sized tree which grows to 30 feet tall; standard trees can take up to 6 years to bear first fruit.
  • An apple tree can be a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree that grows less than half the size of a standard. A dwarf will grow 6 to 10 feet tall; a semi-dwarf will grow 12 to 20 feet tall. Most dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are grafted onto a rootstock which keeps them small. Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees produce full-sized apples in about three years.
  • A grafted apple tree has a root system that is different from the fruit-producing portion of the tree. Some apple trees have more than one graft; they will produce more than one variety of fruit on the same tree.
  • Apples are dwarfed as a result of the type of root system onto which they are grafted. Many apple varieties can be purchased as either standards or dwarfs or semi-dwarfs depending upon the rootstock. Root systems are identified by their growth at maturity and planting needs. Here are some, but not all, examples:
    • ‘Seedling’: this is a full-growth tree with strong roots.
    • ‘M.27’: this tree makes 15 percent of full growth and is good for containers.
    • ‘M.9’: this tree makes 25 to 35 percent full growth; plant in moist, well-drained soil.
    • ‘M.26’: this tree makes 30 to 40 percent full growth; plant in well-drained, dry soil.
    • ‘MARK’: this tree makes 30 to 40 percent full growth and is very cold hardy and resistant to fireblight.
    • ‘M-7’: this tree makes 40 to 60 percent full growth and can be grown in wet soil.
    • ‘MM.106’: this tree makes 45 to 65 percent full growth; it can be planted in wet soil but may be susceptible to root rot.
    • ‘MM.111’: this tree reaches 65 to 85 percent full size, tolerates a wide range of soil and is drought resistant and fireblight resistant.
  • Many apple dwarfing rootstocks were originated in England at the Malling Research Station; this accounts for the “M” in their names.

Apple Yield

  • An apple tree can yield from 75 to more than 130 pounds of fruit each year.

Spacing Apples

  • Space apple trees according to their height.
  • Standard apples that can grow to 20 or 30 feet tall; they should be spaced 25 to 30 feet apart.
  • Semi-dwarf trees that can grow to 12 to 15 feet tall; they should be spaced 15 feet apart.
  • Dwarf trees that can grow 6 to 10 feet tall; they should be spaced 8 to 10 feet apart.
  • Allow enough room for sunlight and air circulation to reach all parts of the tree.
  • If you are short on space, plant dwarf trees.
Gardener planting an apple tree in to a prepared hole – variety is Bramley

Planting Apples

  • Apple trees can be purchased either bare-root, balled-and-burlapped, or in a container.
  • Bareroot trees are available in the winter and early spring when the trees are dormant and without leaves. Plant bare-root trees in spring as soon as the soil can be worked and before the trees begin to significantly leaf out. Bareroot trees are commonly grafted and without branches, and so are called whips. Make the planting hole large enough that the roots can be spread out fully. Look for the soil line on the tree and plant the tree at that level or an inch or two deeper. If the tree is grafted, set it in the hole so that the graft is visible when planted, an inch or so higher than the surrounding soil.
  • A balled-and-burlapped tree is a tree whose roots are in soil; the roots are enclosed in burlap. Balled-and-burlapped trees are commonly available in spring; however, they may be found later in the year. Plant a ball-and-burlapped tree by positioning the tree in the planting hole at the same depth that it was growing at the nursery. After positioning the root ball into the hole, remove all twine or rope used to hold the burlap and ball together. Then open the top of the burlap and slide it out of the hole. Lightly tamp in soil around the root ball; see General Planting Instructions below.
  • A container-grown tree can be planted at any time during the growing season. Remove the container carefully and plant the root ball at the same depth as in the container.
  • Avoid planting apple trees in hot, dry weather.
Apple planting
Planting a young apple whip

Apple Planting Step-by-Step

  • Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a prevailing breeze or wind.
  • Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil and add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
  • Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s roots.
  • Put a tree stake in place before planting. Drive the stake into the ground to the side of the hole to at least 2 feet deep.
  • Set the tree in the hole so that the soil mark on the stem is at the surface level of the surrounding soil. Remove all twine and burlap from balled and burlapped trees. Spread the roots out in all directions.
  • Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time.
  • Secure the tree to the stake with tree ties.
  • After planting, water each tree thoroughly and fertilize with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.

Container Growing Apples

  • Dwarf apple trees can be grown in containers.
  • Choose a large pot or tub at least 18 inches wide and deep that is well-drained.
  • Plant trees in a commercial organic potting mix.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
  • Feed apples growing in containers with an all-purpose fertilizer that is slightly higher in potassium.
  • Repot the tree after two years into a container that is 24 inches wide and deep.

Apple Care, Nutrients, and Water

  • Newly planted apple trees require moderate watering weekly. Set the water on low and allow it to seep into the soil; roots will follow deep watering and become well established.
  • An established apple tree requires only infrequent watering but be sure to water all trees during prolonged dry periods.
  • Feed apples with a mulch of aged compost applied liberally around the base of the tree once or twice a year, in spring or in late fall after leaves have dropped.
  • Feed an apple tree a half-pound of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer for each year the tree has been alive to a maximum of 10 pounds per tree per year.
  • Low levels of potassium, calcium, or boron can reduce growth and fruit quality. Test the soil for its nutrient content. Spread gypsum on the soil to raise the calcium level.
  • Yields can be improved with a foliar feeding of seaweed extract when buds begin to show color, again after petals fall, and once again when fruits are less than 1 inch in diameter.
  • A young apple tree will grow 12 to 24 inches in a year. A mature, fruit-bearing apple tree will grow 8 to 12 inches each year.

Care of Young Apple Trees

  • Allow the roots of a young apple tree to become well-established before allowing the tree to fruit.
  • The first two years handpick off flowers and young fruit not allowing them to develop; this will give the tree increased energy to establish its roots.
  • The third year allow the tree to bear a small crop. Do not allow a limb to become so burdened with fruit that it will bend or break.
Young tree with leader and three lateral branches

Training Apple Trees

  • Freestanding apple trees can be trained in three ways: (1) central leader, (2) modified central leader, and (3) open center. Apple trees tend to be naturally vase-shaped having no central leader or a weak central leader but several potential scaffold branches. Training an apple tree should begin soon after planting.
  • Central leader: A mature central-leader tree has a somewhat conical shape. The main stem is the central leader; from the central leader even spaced lateral branches are selected to grow as the tree’s scaffold branches. At planting a one- or two-year-old whip is cut off at about 30 inches above the ground; four even spaced lateral branches are selected to become the scaffold branches; all others are removed. In the second year, even spaced sub-lateral branches are selected to grow on; other sub-laterals are removed. Each year the central leader is shortened by one-third of the previous summer’s growth until the conical shape of the tree is established.
  • Modified central leader: A modified central leader tree does not have a central main stem or trunk; the main stem is shortened in the second or third year and lateral-scaffold branches are encouraged to grow. Follow the training directions for a central leader form tree; once 4 or 5 strong scaffold branches have formed, cut back the central leader to just above the topmost scaffold branch. Sub-laterals will grow from the scaffold branches; prune these to keep the form of the tree and remove any vertical sub-laterals.
  • Open center, also called multi-leader: A mature open-center tree has a vase-like shape. At planting time, the top of the whip is cut off at about 30 inches above the ground. In the first year select four even spaced lateral branches; these should be spaced along the trunk about 4 to 8 inches apart and should be growing in different directions from the central stem/trunk (these will become the main scaffold branches); cut off all other small branches. At the end of the second season, cut off the main trunk or leader just above the top lateral branches—above the branches you have selected to become the scaffold branches; you have just created an open center. At the same time, shorten the laterals by one-third to one-half to encourage sub-lateral branching; cut all other small branches back to four or five buds. In the next two years, prune back the laterals and sub-laterals by one-quarter to encourage strong growth. Allow even spaced smaller side branches (sub-sub-laterals or side shoots) to grow even spaced; prune the sub-laterals and their side shoots to two or three buds. In the following years as the tree begins to fruit, pruning can be lighter.

Pruning Mature Apple Trees

  • An apple tree that has been trained (see above) will be near maturity in the fourth and fifth years. Then training pruning gives way to maintenance pruning.
  • Mature apple trees, like most trees, will benefit from pruning. Pruning will allow the tree to produce quality fruit.
  • Prune an apple tree so that plenty of sunlight and air can penetrate into the center of the tree. One guideline is to prune so that a bird can fly directly through the tree without touching its feathers on a branch. That means pruning out dense, crossed branches.

Maintenance Pruning Step-by-Step

  1. Remove all diseased, dead, or broken branches.
  2. Remove all water sprouts. Water sprouts are fast-growing vertical branches that usually have no side branches.
  3. Remove all suckers. Suckers are the fast-growing shoots that grow out of the soil from the roots below the soil surface.
  4. Remove a branch that creates a tight V-branch crotch, a crotchless than 45 degrees. These branches will not support the weight of a full crop of fruit.
  5. Remove crossing or rubbing branches. If two branches cross and rub against each other they can cause a wound that may allow insects or fungal disease to attack the tree. Remove the least desirable branch.
  6. Never prune away more than one-third of the total tree in a single growing season.
  7. Always prune to a growth bud or flush to a main branch or trunk. Remember that spur-bearing apple trees produce fruit on the same spurs several years in a row.
  8. Tip-bearing apples bear fruit on last year’s growth, so be careful not to remove too much recent growth that will bear fruit next season; lightly tip-prune the leaders of the main branches; cut back sub-laterals to a strong bud but not more than 12 inches; do not prune any sub-laterals shorter than 12 inches.
  9. Spur-bearing apples bear fruit on the same spurs for years and years. Be careful not to remove or damage fruiting spurs unless you mean to. Prune new side shoots to encourage the growth of new spurs; cut back shoots to buds facing the direction laterals and fruits should grow.
  10. Prune every year. Once a tree has been well pruned, it will need less annual pruning; only the removal of crossing branches and twiggy growth.
  11. Prune in late winter when the tree is dormant and before buds appear. A light maintenance pruning can be done in summer working around the fruit set.

See also: Apple Pruning

Spring thinning allows apples to grow to mature size

Thinning Apples

  • Thinning fruit will ensure the quality and size of the crop. Thinning will also reduce the tendency of some apple varieties to alternate-bear that is bear fruit every other year. When a tree bears a heavy crop one year, it will produce a much, much smaller crop the next year; this is called alternate bearing.
  • A few weeks after fruit sets, some fruit on the tree will naturally drop off. This is called “June drop”; it is nature’s way of thinning the crop. Apple trees produce more blossoms and fruit than is necessary for a full crop.
  • Additional thinning will benefit the tree. The rule of thinning fruit is to allow plenty of room for fruit to develop. Look for clusters of fruit and remove smaller apples in each cluster before the fruit reaches one inch in diameter. On larger trees, you can leave two fruits on each spur and on dwarf trees leave one fruit on each spur. One thinning method is to remove all the fruit on every other spur. It is probably best to reduce fruit clusters leaving just a single fruit. Fruit that touches another fruit can be susceptible to disease or pest attack.

See also: Thinning Apples

How to Harvest Apples

  • Dwarf cultivars begin to bear fruit in one to three years.
  • Standard cultivars begin to fruit in five to ten years.
  • Apples come to harvest from midsummer through late fall; fruit ripens 100 to 200 days after fruit set depending on the variety.
  • The best way to know if apples are ready for harvest is to taste them; select one and try it. Also, consider skin color and fruit drop. Apples are usually ready for harvest when they reach full color; full color may vary according to the variety.
  • A mature apple will come away from the tree easily; lift the apple up and twist in a rotating motion. It should not be necessary to cut an apple from the stem.
  • Late ripening apples usually come to harvest more quickly than long-maturing early and mid-season varieties.

Storing Apples

  • Storing and preserving. Apples will keep for 6 to 8 weeks in a cool place; a refrigerator just above 32°F is best. Late-maturing apples are better keepers than summer apples. Commercial growers often place apples in cold storage for 6 to 12 months.
  • Apples kept in storage should not be diseased or damaged or other fruit may be affected. Apples are often wrapped individually in paper to avoid spoilage.

See also: Apple Harvest Time by Variety

Also of interest: Apples: Kitchen Basics

Propagating Apples

  • Propagate apple trees by grafting scions (fruiting wood) onto rootstocks.

Apple Pest and Disease Control

  • The best preventative approach to apple diseases is to choose varieties that are resistant to the diseases in your region.
  • Apart from disease-resistant cultivars, prune trees regularly to allow for ample sun and air penetration into the crown of the tree and prune out any diseased branches, leaves, or fruit.
  • Keep the garden or orchard clean of dead leaves and branches and plant debris.
  • Pests that sometimes attack apples include: aphids, apple tree borers, apple fruitworms, apple leafminers, apple maggots, birds, Codling moths, European apple sawflies, European red mites, flathead borers, roundhead borers, leafrollers, oriental fruit moths, plant bugs, plum curculio, scale, spider mites, tarnished plant bugs, tortrix moths, wasps, white apple leafhoppers, winter moths.
  • Diseases that sometimes attack apples include apple canker, apple scab, bitter pit, black rot, blossom blight, brown rot, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, fireblight, fly speck, sooty blotch.

Apple Spraying Schedule

  • Apples are commonly sprayed to combat diseases and pests.
  • Apply a dormant oil spray before buds open and when the temperature has been above 33°F for 48 hours. Dormant spray oils help kill overwintering pests and diseases.
  • Apply a multipurpose fruit tree spray when the buds begin to break. Multipurpose fruit tree sprays help control both pests and diseases during the growing season.
  • Do not spray when the tree is in bloom.
  • When nearly all the flower petals have fallen begin applying a multipurpose fruit tree spray every 10 to 14 days.
  • Discontinue all spraying two weeks before harvest.

Fall and Winter Apple Care

  • Prune trees in winter; the best time is just before buds break in late winter or early spring.
  • Fruiting spurs can be thinned; remove crowded spurs and also remove unproductive spurs.
  • Place hardware cloth around tree trunks to protect them from rodents and rabbits.
  • Paint trunks with diluted latex to protect the bark from sunscald.
  • Hang deer deterrents from tree branches; bars of deodorant soap will repel deer.

Apple Varieties to Grow

  • There are hundreds of apple varieties to choose from. Consider first your region and the number of chilling hours. Next, consider the space you have to grow an apple tree. Then consider how you plan to use the fruit and when you want the fruit to come to harvest, early, mid-season or late.
  • Choose two apples from the same pollination group to ensure the best fruit yield. See Pollination Groups above.
  • Very good pollinators: ‘Golden Delicious’ pollinates almost every other variety and is self-fruitful. ‘Winter Banana’ good pollinator, especially for ‘Red Delicious’.
  • Varieties that are not self-fruitful (they need a pollinizer): ‘Red Delicious’, the ‘Winesaps’, ‘Red Gravenstein’, ‘Rhode Island Greening’, and triploid crosses including ‘Mutsu’, ‘Spigold’.
  • Varieties for cold northern cold regions: ‘Duchess’, ‘Gravenstein’, ‘Haralson’, ‘McIntosh’, ‘Cortland’, ‘Macoun’, ‘Spartan’, ‘Empire’, ‘Wealthy’.
  • Varieties for all regions except southernmost areas and the coldest regions: ‘Baldwin’, ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘Grimes Golden’, ‘Jonathan’, ‘Jonagold’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Lodi’, ‘Mutsu’, ‘Northern Spy’, ‘Paulared’, ‘Prima’, ‘Red Delicious’, ‘Rhode Island Greening’, ‘Rome’, ‘Rome Beauty’, ‘Sir Prize’, ‘Winesap’, ‘Yellow Newton’, ‘Yellow Transparent’, ‘York’.
  • Varieties that will grow southern regions: ‘Granny Smith’.

See also: Winter and Late Season Apple Varieties

Botanical name. Malus pumila

Origin. Southwestern Asia

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.


Comments are closed.
  1. We would kindly like you to give us some advice on suitability, required elevation and other relevent advise for growing apples in Malawi.
    Omar Abdeen, Malawi.

    • Apples prefer a definite colder season and a warm, but not too hot summer. Quality is best when the days are warm and sunny and the nights are cool.A cool climate is needed for the coloration of most red apple varieties. Winter chilling requirements for most varieties are 500 to 1,000 hours below 45F/7C; low-chill apple varieties need about 400 to 600 hours below 45F/7C. Foggy days and dews can cause russetting on fruit. There are hundreds of varieties of apples, each with its own characteristics. Several rootstocks are available to impart dwarfing and pest resistance. Some varieties require as few as 70 days to mature, others take 180 days or more. Some varieties are very cold hardy, others are tender. Apples require cros-pollination from another variety that blooms at the same time and produces abundant, viable pollen. There are a few varieties that are self-fruitful. Begin deciding on which apples you want to grow by exploring the following varieties: Braeburn, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Ellisons Orange, Fortune, Freyburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, James Grieve, Jonagold, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, Roxbury Russet, Sturmer Late Season.

    • You may be apple to grow low-chill apple varieties in Kenya–where the average low is not much below 50° F (10° C). Most apple varieties require 500 to 1000 hours each year below 45° F (7° C). However, there are a few varieties adapted to mild winter climates (chill hours below 500). These varieties need about 300 hours below 45° F (7° F). You will likely need to purchase these varieties via the internet–they may be hard to find at a local nursery. The the low-chill varieties are Anna, Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer, Tropical Beauty, Gordon, and Beverly Hills. The last two are Southern California natives where there is very little winter chill. Try two of these for a couple of years to see how they do before you make a large investment.

  2. We are considering planting some apples for cider to produce bitter and sharp flavors. We live in Kansas City area. Can you suggest a cultivar that would be high in sugar and tanin/acidity for our region?
    Thank you. Garik

    • Commonly sweet apples will make up about 50 percent of a cider mixture. Tart or sharp apples provide the acidity needed to balance the sweet and commonly make up 30 to 35 percent of the cider. Bitter apples provide the tannins, which adds complex flavor and commonly make up 15 to 20 percent of your cider. You should experiment with percentages until you find the flavor mixture you want. For bitter and sharp flavor try the variety Empire–it is strong in tannins; for the tart or sharp flavor try Granny Smith or Liberty; for the sweet flavor try Gala or Jonagold. All of these varieties will grow in Kansas. You may want to check with the nearby office of the Kansas Sate University Cooperative Extension for apple growing tips for your area.

  3. Developing a hybrid of Apple that do not require chilling to flower to enable us grow apple in the tropics (Nigeria). I desire a research partner to work on this together.

    • There should be great interest in your project as many gardeners in the tropics express interest in apple growing. In the United States three universities interested in apple growing are Washington State University, Cornell University, and the University of Minnesota. Contact those centers to see if they can direct you to interested researchers.

  4. How can i grow apple in india (karnataka state)where the climate is generally dry and healthy. In summer, especially in April and May it is too hot; at that time the temperature lays between 40 degree Celsius to 45 degree Celsius. In winter season, from November to January the temperature is between 20 degree Celsius to 30 degree Celsius. Usually the district has dry weather, so the humidity varies from 10% to 30%.
    The average annual rainfall for the whole district is 552.8 mm, with 37.2 rainy days.The district has two types of soil. First one is „deep black soil‟ (or yeari bhoomi), which is good for the crops like jawar, wheat, pulses, sunflower, etc. The major portion of the district consists of this kind of soil which has a great moisture-holding capacity. Second one is „red soil‟ (or masari bhoomi), which is generally poor, good for irrigation and horticulture.

    • Most apple varieties require 500 to 1000 hours each year below 45° F (7° C). However, there are a few varieties adapted to mild winter climates (chill hours below 500). These varieties need only about 300 hours below 45° F (7° F). The the low-chill varieties are Anna, Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer, Tropical Beauty, Gordon, and Beverly Hills. The last two are Southern California natives where there is very little winter chill. Amend your growing area with plenty of aged compost and add aged compost or aged manure to your growing area twice a year. Compost will add nutrients to the soil and help the soil retain moisture.

  5. I am a Ghanaian and I’m much interested in planting of Apple.i need an advice as to what type of Apple is best for my weather.the process of planting the Apple.thanks

    • Apples require a chill in winter to fruit. Some apple varieties require more chill than others. I doubt you can grow apples in Ghana–low-chill apple varieties need about 400 to 600 hours below 45F/7C. If you are in a region of Ghana where you get that chill then try growing a low chill variety–you will see a list in the comments section under the post here called How to Grow Apples.

    • Do an internet search for dwarf apple stock from wholesale growers in your region, or search of dwarf apple stock from European or American growers.

  6. I live in jamaica in the cold hilly area. I want to try planting the apple tree what type of soil can I use? We have red soil and black soil.

    • Choose soil rich in organic matter–add plenty of compost to your planting area if you have any doubts about the quality of the soil.

  7. Hi Prof Steve Albert.
    Your website is informative.
    I want to ask this question that have be giving me concern for ages: Can apple grow in Nigeria?
    kindly help shedding more lights using the following headlines
    • Soil Requirements for the growth of Apple in Nigeria.
    • Cultivars of Apple that can thrive in Nigeria.
    • Propagation method to be used.
    • Pest/ disease of Apples and control measures to adopt.
    • Government policies and plans for research and development on Apple production.
    • Constraints in Apple fruit production development.
    • Economies of Apple production.
    • Measures to boost Apple production in Nigeria.

    • See the extensive questions and answers on apple growing in Africa at the very bottom of this article (scroll all the way to the bottom and read questions and answers): How to Plant and Grow an Apple Tree
      Be in touch with your government agricultural service or a nearby agricultural college or university for apple research in your region.

    • Apples leaf-out and flower in mid to late spring. Harvest will come in late summer through autumn. Apples drop their leaves and are dormant during the winter.

    • The spacing of apple trees is dependent on the variety you are growing. If the tree matures at 15 feet wide (a semi-dwarf) then space your trees 16 to 20 feet apart.

  8. Hello Sir, at my place we have traditional apple tree probably dating at least 50 years old. The product is of poor quality, mostly sour, and have very low yield. Considering its a highland (mountanious) area, can fuji apple trees be a good choice for plntation in this area? One fact about my place is cold during winter which have also enabled the plantation of pears and peaches. Tanzania, United Republic of.

    • Yes, you should be able to grow apples in your region. Try these varieties: Anna imported from South Africa and Golden Dorset, also imported from South Africa. The old tree you have now is likely an older variety or one that has grown from rootstock. New apple varieties should be successful in your region.

  9. Please I would like some advice from you on the requirement, the suitability, and relevant informations on how to grow apples, especially fresh eating apples in the South-Easte, Nigeria .

    • Read comments below this post for more information on growing apples in tropical regions. You will need a very low-chill cultivar; there are suggestions in the comments section here.

    • Both high chilling and low chilling cultivars of apple are cultivated in Nepal. The principal high chilling cultivars are Red, Royal and Golden Delicious, Mc Intosh, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Richared, Golden Spur. The mid chilling cultivars are Katza, Red June, Cox Orange Pippin, Crispin and Summer Pippin. The low chilling cultivars are Anna, Vered, Tropical Beauty, Winter Banana

      High and mid chilling cultivars are mostly grown in an altitude range of 1800 – 2800 m.a.s.l, where chilling is more than 1000 hours; low chilling types are cultivated at elevations as low as 1200 m.a.s.l. and where chilling is 600-1000 hours. As far as elevation is concerned, apple can be grown throughout mid and high mountain areas from Eastern to the far Western region; however, due to high humidity and heavy rainfall during the growing period the most suitable areas for quality apple production are confined to the mid and far Western region where dry to semi humid conditions exist.

  10. Hi, am from Kenya in central region (nyeri) to be exact. i have always had a childhood dream of having an orchard with lots and lots of fruits (apples,bananas,oranges) and trees. However i am in the process of identifying and buying land. Is there any useful hints you can assist me on how to start and prepare an orchard. thank you

    • Consider growing dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit trees–they will take less land and will be easiest to harvest (they are not tall and will not require ladders). When it is time to buy your trees, consult with local horticulturists or orchard keepers for varieties that grow well in your climate; as well they may suggest specific root stock (fruit trees are grafted to root stock that can resist diseases); choose land with plenty of sunshine, hopefully gentle breezes (to keep insect pests on guard), and soil that is rich in organic matter–for nutrients and water retention.

    • Apples require 800 to 1,000 hours below 7C (45F) each year to break dormancy and set fruit. If your region has these hours of chill, you will likely be able to grow apples. Varieties suitable for warm regions include Gala, Gold Rush, Dixie Red Delight, Blacktwig, and Yellow Transparent. Be in touch with a nearby garden center to see what varieties are available to you.

    • If there are 100 hours per year when the temperature is below 45F/7.2C, low-chill apple varieties can be grown. Fuji is a low-chill apple variety. Each apple variety requires a fixed number of chill hours to break dormancy and set fruit.

  11. Apple trees are relatively easy to grow. Plant in full sun and well draining soil. Water and fertilize regularly during the Spring and Summer growth, prune properly, monitor for pest, and you got yourself a healthy tree.

    • It is unlikely you can grow apples in Vietnam unless you live in a region where you have sufficient chill hours. Low chill apples need about 100 hours each year at or below 45F / 7C. If you have those hours in your regions you can grow a low chill variety such as Fuji.
      Check with a nearby nursery or university agriculture department for apple varieties grown in your region.

  12. I’m from Tezpur, Assam where the humidity is quite moderate during summers and the highest temperature in summers go upto 38 degree Celsius or a bit more and during winters general temperature is 23 to 18 degree Celsius during the day but it gets quite low during night.
    Can you please tell me what variety of apples will i be able to plant with these provided weather conditions? Also rain is quite high.

    • It will be difficult to grow apples where winter temperatures are as warm as 23C (73F). You will need a low-chill apple variety such as Fuji. Try growing one or two Fuji trees to see if they will fruit where you live.

  13. Hello sir, I am coming from the western high lands of cameroon- in the uppermost of the plateau. Usually, it is very cold in winter (dry season) as we know it locally especially at nights. From the info I have had already, I guess apples can grow here, but which? Also how can I get the trees? Thanks.

    • To decide which apple variety to grow where you live you will need an estimate of the number of chill hours each winter– that is the total number of hours that the temperature stays between 32 and 45 F. (0-7 C.). Once you know the chill hours for your location you can look online or at a local nursery for apples that set fruit with those chill hours. For example, the Fuji apple requires only 200 to 400 chill hours–that is low. Purchase your apple trees from a nearby nursery or garden center or get in touch with agronomists at the nearest agriculture college for the names of growers.

  14. Dear Mt steve,

    I am from Kashmir , i would like to know how good are hybrid tree . How is the quality of the apples . In Kashmir land accord land in Kashmir we have 200,000 htr and we producing 2 million tones of apples .were in Italy they have hybrids land 40,000 htr production is 2 millions tones . After knowing difference my family they want go for hybrid trees .
    So I need your suggestion please . And can apple grow in temp of 50 digress this one my friend want to know .

    • Hybrid plants are developed by plant breeders who are breeding for favorable characteristics including height, tolerance to soil, tolerance or resistance to disease, color, size, and flavor. Hybrid apple trees are commonly grafted to disease-resistant rootstock. Many growers find this advantageous. Be in touch with an agronomist at a nearby university for suggestions on which apple varieties grow best where you live.

  15. I have an apple tree that produces yearly, .. is there a definitive way to ID these apples? They are on the smallish side, green/red and right in the middle of sweet and tart.. I have never sprayed this tree and only take left overs that survive everything else that wants them..

    • There are a few ways you might be able to identify the variety of apple you are growing: (1) take an apple and a few leaves to the nearby cooperative extension and ask to speak to the fruit advisor; she may be able to identify the apple; (2) take the fruit and leaves to a nearby farmers’ market and show it to one of the fruit growers; (3) check with the master gardeners’ group nearby to see if one of the MGs can identify the fruit or they may be able to refer you to a fruit growers’ group in your area.

    • Check with agronomists at a nearby college or local apple growers for suggestions on apple varieties that will thrive in your region and methods they use to grow their crops.

    • To start apple farming in your region, be in touch with local agronomists at a nearby college to learn which apple varieties can be grown where you live.

  16. Hello sir, I am from Nepal . I am M.Sc botany scholar.and i have some queries that
    -Is there is any impact of climate change on apple farming?
    -Are local varieties really vulnerable after introduction of hybrid varieties?

    • Climate change may be responsible for changes in temperatures over the course of a year and over the course of decades. Compare historical temperature changes to determine if temperature averages are increasing or decreasing in your region. Apple trees require chill hours each year to produce fruit; chill hours vary by variety. If you find chill hours are decreasing, you may need to plant new varieties. Cross-pollination of varieties can occur. Open-pollinated varieties can be affected by cross-pollination and so can hybrids.

    • Hardiness zones are based on historical climate and temperature statistics. Zone 3 the average low temperature for the year is between -30 and -40F. Zone 4 the average low temperature is -20 to -30F. If a plant is listed as hardy to zone 4, that means the plant can suffer severe stress and possibly death if the temperature falls below -30F. So if the apple you have in mind is hardy to zone 4 but is planted in zone 3, it may be exposed to temperatures 10 degrees colder than it can withstand. Given this understanding, you can certainly plant the zone 4 hardy apples in zone 3, but if temperatures fall below what it can withstand, it may suffer or die.

    • Check with the nearby cooperative extension or master gardener group to find out which apple varieties are being grown in your area. You will want to choose a low chill hour variety. Here are a few that may grow in your region: (1) Dorsett Golden – yellow, low chill apple for South Texas only; pollinator for Anna. (2) Anna – medium-size low chill apple for South Texas; has a slight red blush, crisp, good-flavored fruit. (3) other possibilities depending on your chill hours are: Adina – large fruit, sweet with distinctive taste; Gala – orange-red, good flavor; Ozark Gold – yellow, dessert apple; Starkrimson Red Delicious – red, excellent quality; Braeburn – red, highly flavored; Fuji – red, sweet flavor, good crisp texture; Granny Smith – green, excellent quality for dessert or cooking; Pink Lady – pinkish color with excellent quality for fresh or processing use.

  17. Hello, I live in Wisconsin. Many of my friends wont stop asking me: What apple would be the best to grow and what season is Best to plant it?

    • Here are a few of the best known apples that will grow in Wisconsin: Mcintosh, Gala, Honeycrips, Honeygold, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Jonathan and Red Delicious. The order of the apples here are from early season harvest (early September) to late season (mid to late October). Contact your nearby Cooperative Extension for more recommendations or ask at a nearby garden center which varieties are good choices in your area.

    • Check historical averages of low temperatures; count the number of hours each year where the temperature remains below 43F for extended periods. This will tell you the number of chill hours you have each year. You will likely need to plant a low-chill hour variety such as Granny Smith. Check with agronomists at a nearby university for apple varieties that will grow in your region.

  18. I am in Central African Republic, and after visiting your website, I was very impressed and I would like to invest in Apple farming here in CAR; could you kindly advise me on which species I can go with?


    The Central African Republic has a tropical to semi-arid climate, with average annual rainfall ranging from 1,700 mm in the south to 700 mm in the north. There are two wet seasons, the main one in August-September and the smaller one in May-June.

    Average temperatures range from about 23 degrees in the south to 26 degrees in the north, with a larger seasonal variation in temperatures in the north. Calculated evaporation potential ranges from 1,500 mm/year in the south to over 1,900 mm/year in the north.
    Thanks for your help.

    • Nearly all apples require hours of chill each year (commonly during the winter months) in order to blossom and set fruit the next season; chill hours are consecutive hours less than 6C (43F). Consult the weather service in your area for the number of consecutive chill hours over the course of each year. You will then be able to determine which apple varieties will grow in your area. Varieties that have low chill requirements include Anna, Ein Shemer, Dorsett Golden and TropicSweet. With good care, they should begin production in three to four years.

  19. I have 4 seedlings I transplanted after raising them in a pot. They are growing straight without branches. Is that the right growth.
    Advise on how best to plant apples in the semi arid karamoja (Uganda)

    • Yes, the young plants will not have branches early in their life. Planting apples is the same around the world; follow the directions in this post.

  20. Hi, i have apple seedlings of red delicious apple i planted this spring and had successfully sprouted and growing nicely. I eventually have to replant them at one point but im worried that they wont survive the coming winter. In my region where i live our winter gets to -40oC. So how should i care for these seedlings so to ensure they grow back next spring? Thank you in advance❤️

    • Pot the seedlings up and when freezing temperatures come in late autumn protect them from temps much below 32F. They will need a year or two of protection before you can leave them out over the winter.

  21. I have had a Granny Smith Apple Tree for over 20 years and it has given fruit most of the time. This year there were no blossoms on the tree. The last few years the tree has had infestations of the Codling Moth, but all apples on the tree were damaged. My extension service says the tree has a fruit bearing years from 4 to 6, but from your site and others, that seems not to be the case. With you expertise in growing Granny Smith Apple trees, do you know if I can expect to have it bear fruit in future years or not. My neighbor has a home in Sonoma County, California where he grows apples and he told me that the Codling Moth traps should be fresh and not brought off the shelf, but my Extension Service says that are not available, because it’s not a harvested crop in our county. So I’, stuck between” a rock and a hard place” as I like to continue to use the tree, but my husband has suggested that if it’s not going to bear fruit, we should take out. I would like you opinion, please. Thank you

    • The life expectancy of an apple tree is about 40 to 50 years. If you saw buds on the tree in spring followed by a freeze, that may account for the lack of flowers. If the tree bore a heavy crop last year, it may be taking a year of rest–though some flowering would be expected. Coddling moth traps are available online; using the traps for a year or two–fresh or not–would be a small investment to save a productive tree. If the tree is not diseased or has not been injured by garden equipment, give it another year to flower and bear fruit. Check the branches beginning in late winter or early spring for swelling buds; keep track of their progress and record low temperatures once buds appear.

  22. I’ve started growing an apple tree in April. I’ve noticed white powder on Its leaves. I think its a fungus infection, but I’m not sure. Does anyone know what it could be and how to treat it? Unfortunately I can’t send a picture of it…

  23. How to we get more fruits from small tree or is it good or bad to take fruiting from 2 to 3 years apple tree . Where i get good verities and scion wood .

    • A young apple tree must put much energy into the development of roots and upward growth before it will put energy into fruiting. The fruit yield will increase each year. By the fifth or sixth year, the fruit yield will be significant.

    • All apple trees need to be fed on a regular basis. Add aged compost around the tree so that the nutrients seep into the soil. Feed the tree with a 10-10-10 fertilizer–look for a fruit tree fertilizer at the garden center. Deep water the tree; do not shallow water. Prune the tree if it is overgrown.

    • You can certainly try soaking seeds in water ahead of sowing apple seeds. Apple seeds are more likely to respond to cold stratification; store the seeds in a 34- to 40-degree Fahrenheit refrigerator for 60 to 90 days before sowing; this will speed germination.

  24. I live in Southeast Alaska (Juneau), in a Zone 7. We get long days, but most are relatively cloudy, not sunny. Do you think that this might be successful for a Fuji apple tree?

    • The best advice will come from experienced growers in your area. Call the nearest Cooperative Extension Service, Master Gardener group, or a nearby garden center to learn how successful apple growing has been near you. This link may help (it make several suggestions for apple varieties that do well in Alaska):

  25. We just moved to a house that has an apple tree. There are a lot of apples and the branches are bending over. A friend said something about thinning the apples. Is it too late in the season to do this? A lot of the apples are about 2-3 inches diameter. Just trying to figure out the Apple growing process

    • No, it’s not too late to thin. Thinning is important. Thinning will keep branches from breaking; it will also improve the growth and flavor of the fruit left on the tree. Thin right away.

    • To decide which variety to grow check the number of chill hours each winter in your region. You can then choose from trees that fall into that category. Plant your trees in spring.

    • For the best apple varieties to grow in your region, check with a nearby garden center or nursery for recommendations. One source might be Kuffel Creek Apple Nursery of Uganda, Ltd.

    • Check the chill hours required for the variety you are growing. If winter chill hours are insufficient the plant will not fruit. If chill hours are sufficient, feed the plant a 5-10-10 fertilizer as directed on the label.

    • If there is a nearby farmers’ market where you can purchase apples, you can plant those seeds. The surest route to growing apples is to purchase seedlings that will grow in your region. Ask at a nearby college agriculture department or government ag agency for suggestions and sourcing of apple seedlings.

  26. My name is Odeh Peter from Benue state, Nigeria. We have two main climatic seasons here in Nigeria; the rainy and the dry seasons respectively, what you guys call winter and summer over there in U.S.A. The rainy season is characterized with heavy rainfalls and the dry season, also what we call (harmattan) is characterized with cold and very dry and harsh breez. The temperatures are surprisingly high in both weathers, can apple trees be grown in this kind of geography? I love apple fruits very much and would love to own even just a tree as imported apple fruits are very expensive down here, it might interests you to know that one apple fruit sells for as much as 400-500 Naira, thats approximately 1-1.5 Dollars. Thanks

    • Most apple varieties need 500-1,000 chill hours or temps below 45 F. (7 C.) to set fruit. You can try a low chill variety. Some apples will set fruit with as few as 100 chill hours. Here are some low chill varieties: Fuji, Dorsett Golden, Flavor Delight, Minnie Royal, Royal Lee, Double Delight.

  27. My apple trees have been in the ground for a couple months and leafed out for about a month. I am noticing upward curl on the leaves and some of the leaves and newer leaves are turning a little yellow with the smallest ones dying. I have been careful about watering so maybe its underwatering?

    • The problem could be underwatering; the plant may also be experiencing transplant shock. Give the trees some B1 (you can get it at the garden center); also start giving the trees a dilute solution of fish emulsion or kelp meal every 10 days. If you suspect the roots are getting moist, it might pay to get a moisture meter with a long probe to tell you for certain if watering is an issue.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Mango bigstock Tropical Mango Tree With Big R 288199537 scaled

How to Grow Mango

How to Grow Beans

How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Snap Beans