GROWING APPLES is fun and rewarding, but failure to bear fruit is a common problem. Several factors may account for this including inappropriate site, improper cultural care, insufficient sunlight, stress from insects or disease, or poor pollination.
A plant only blooms when it reaches maturity. Most standard fruit trees require five to seven years after planting before they will bear fruit; dwarf trees usually bear within three years.
Fruit trees require at least eight hours of direct sun daily to grow, flower, and fruit well. Annual pruning and pest management is also required to maintain optimum health. But even with good cultural practices, a particularly harsh winter or a hard freeze in early spring can ruin that year's flower buds. Fruit trees that bloom very early, such as apricots, tart cherries and plums are especially vulnerable.
Even rainy weather during bloom can reduce or eliminate a crop by hindering the insects necessary to pollinate the flowers. Apples, apricots and hybrid plums require that two different varieties be located within 100 feet for pollination to occur.
U of M Apples
Zestar!™* 1998 very early, balanced flavor, stores well Aug. 6-13
Honeycrisp* 1991 crisp and juicy, excellent fresh eating, very long storage Sept. 20-28
Keepsake* 1978 small, sugarcane flavor, long storage life Oct. 11-19
State Fair* 1977 crisp and juicy Aug. 18-24
Sweet Sixteen* 1977 fresh eating and cooking, sweet Sept. 19-27
Honeygold* 1970 fresh eating and cooking, sweet, crisp, yellow Oct. 9-17
Red Baron* 1970 fresh eating and cooking, tart, ripens Sept. 12-20
Regent* 1964 balanced flavor Oct. 9-17
Fireside* 1943 excellent fresh eating, very large, stores well Oct. 13-20
Prairie Spy* 1940 cooking, striped Sept. 27-Oct. 5
Beacon* 1936 fresh eating or sauce Aug. 20-28
Haralson* 1922 fresh eating and cooking, tart, medium-sized, stores well Oct. 3-10
Crabapples Grown for Fruit
Centennial* 1957 very hardy, excellent for eating, cooking
Chestnut* 1949 russetted fruit, large for a crabapple, fine flavor and texture
*=varieties available from retail nurseries, those without are heirloom varieties with limited availability
'Zestar!'™ apple is the newest introduction from the U of M, selected for outstanding fresh eating quality and storage ability for an early apple. Marketable quantities of fresh fruit will be available by 2003.
'Haralson' resulted from the challenge to grow apples in Minnesota's harsh winters and was one of the first introductions by the U of M Agricultural Experiment Station. Almost 80 years old, yet still a favorite for fresh eating and baking, this tart fruit grows well in Minnesota conditions.
'Regent' is named after the U of M Board of Regents. It is an attractive, red striped apple with well-balanced flavor that is excellent for fresh eating and baking.
'Keepsake' is a small to medium apple, a 'lunchbox' variety, just the right size for kids' appetites. It is also popular because of its very sweet, almost sugarcane like flavor. Excellent for long storage.
'Honeygold' has 'Golden Delicious' as one of its parents. It is very crisp with excellent, juicy sweet flavor.
'Honeycrisp'™ apple is extremely crisp and juicy with a well balanced flavor, a true breakthrough in eating quality achieved by U of M apple breeders. The variety was 30 years in the making, from the original cross of two parents to the final introduction in 1991. The fruit stores for a remarkable six months — under normal refrigeration — and is exceptionally popular with consumers. To meet the demand, U.S. growers planted nearly 750,000 'Honeycrisp'™ apple trees in the 1990s. It is the most widely planted variety in Minnesota orchards and is being tested in other apple growing regions of the world including Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia.