Plant of the Week - August 23, 2012 Hardy Apple Trees

Hardy Apple Trees

Have you considered starting your own mini-orchard?  Apple trees are a staple and Bylands hardy apple tree varieties are great all around trees.  Our varieties are used to cold Canadian climates because they were developed in the Prairie Provinces.  They also store very well.  One thing you will need to take into account is that you wont producing fruit right away, and when you will see your first fruit depends on the variety of which tree you plant.

The thing you will want to remember when growing an apple tree is that it will need a pollinizer.  Now what you have to do is check the apple charts.  You have to find a tree that grows well in you area that blooms at the same time as your apple tree.  So you will get that cross-pollination that you need between trees.  That is your number one factor you need to consider when choosing your apple trees.  They are very hardy so chances are this won’t pose much of a problem.

When you first plant you don’t want to prune things every year, you want to see where the fruit is going to develop, you want the tree to grow and mature in your landscape and when you prune it you’re really pruning it for shape at first.

Pruning isn’t something you will want to do for the first couple of years.  But when you do, make sure you keep it open and only do this when the tree is dormant. You have old growth and new growth and most fruit will grow on last year’s wood.  So you never just want to go crazy on them in the spring.  What we would recommend is to thin out some branches by pruning the ones that cross over each other or ones that weigh the tree down.  Also consider the pruning for height so that you can easily pick all of your fruit and nothing will be wasted.  You’ll have to keep the inside of the tree nice and open so it gets good air circulation and lots of sunshine. 

You’ll want to fertilize with good compost or an organic fertilizer every fall.  That will keep new wood and fruiting wood growing at the same time.  You don’t want to cut too late in the season and end up cutting your fruiting wood.  High phosphate level helps build the root system that will give you an abundance of flowers, which in turns gives you fruit.  You need to do it no later than 6 weeks before it blooms.  Some orchard growers throw it down mid winter and let Mother Nature water it in.  Over fertilizing fruit trees pushes too much growth, which makes it susceptible to bugs and fungal problems.  Never fertilizer a young fruit tree in its first season or two using a commercial type of fertilizer.

If you want your own delicious apples right from your back yard; go out there, get the variety that works best in your region and get growing.  It’s going to take a few years but don’t be discouraged.  It will be well worth the wait and you’ll have a huge bounty of apples.  So what are you waiting for?  Check out a few of our favorite hardy varieties below.

Battleford Apple
Spring flowering is white with a pinkish tint. Pale yellowish green fruit with a dull red blush. Flesh is fairly crisp and slightly tart. Good for cooking and eating fresh. Ripens in late August. Moderately good storing. A 1945 introduction from North Battleford, SK.

Hardi-Mac Apple 
Medium size, bright red fruit with white crispy, juicy, aromatic flesh and a distinctive flavor. Hardy Apple for eating fresh or baking. Ripens mid-September. Stores moderately well. A selection of the historical McIntosh Apple found in Calgary, Alberta in 1992.  It was found surviving in the city for a long time and is one of the sweetest varieties.

Goodland Apple
Medium sized washed red over creamy green fruit. Flesh is crisp, juicy, tender and aromatic. Good for cooking and eating fresh. Stores well. Tree is very productive annually. Ripens mid September. A 1955 introduction from the Morden Research Station in Manitoba.

Fall Red Apple
Large dull red fruit with crisp white flesh with good quality and texture. Good for eating fresh or cooking. Spring flowers are white with a pink tint. Stores well. Ripens mid to late September. A 1986 introduction by the Morden Research Station in Manitoba.

Combination Apple (5 in 1)
A combination of a few varieties of apples are grafted on to one plant to create a unique and novel plant. Can be grown as other apple trees or trained in an espalier form for an even more specialty plant. Ripening times and fruit quality will vary.

Norkent Apple
Medium size, round, green Apple streaked with red colour. Slightly russeted. A crisp sweet aromatic apple. Ideal for eating fresh and cooking. Ripens early September. Keeps for up to 12 weeks. Cross of Haralson x Rescue introduced in 1990 from Beaverlodge, Alberta.

Honeycrisp™ Apple
Large sized Red Apple that is exceptionally crisp, sweet and juicy, making it a must for any home or commercial orchard. Its fine texture makes it great for fresh eating. Ripens late September. Exceptional storage life. A 1991 University of Minnesota introduction.