Planting apple trees is best done in fall season – autumn to mid of the winter. Should you buy an apple tree, choose a dormant, bare-root trees that is at least a year old with good root systems. Dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties will bear 3 to 4 years while standard size apple trees will bear in 5 to 8 years.
Here are the requirements in planting apple trees:
- Soil – Apples need a well draining soil that is not too wet. It should also be moderately rich and retains moisture and air. If amendments to the soil are needed, work into the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches where the tree will root and not just the planting hole.Mulch with straw, hay or some other organic material to keep soil moist and provide nutrients as they decompose.
- Location – choose a sunny spot for your apple tree. It generally needs 6 or more hours of direct sun daily. If you plan to plant multiple apples, space seedlings of regular sized trees about 15 10 18 feet in a row and 4 to 8 feet for dwarf rootstock. Choose a higher site with a slope if possible to keep cold air away from the trees.
- Planting – if the roots of your rootstock have dried out, soak them in water for about 24 hours before planting. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root system and 2 feet deep. Be sure to loosen the soil on the walls of the planting hole so the roots can easily penetrate. Do not add fertilizers at the time of planting as it may burn the roots of your apple tree. Just fill the remainder of the hole with loose soil and press it down firmly afterwards to remove air pockets.
- Pruning – do not be in a hurry to prune your apple tree because it slows down a young tree’s overall growth and can delay fruiting as well. Try removing only the misplaced, broken and dead branches. Once your apple tree has matured and is bearing fruit, you can prune it when it is dormant.
- Thinning – remove excess fruit to even out production and ensure better-tasting larger fruit crops. This also helps prevent a heavy crop from breaking limbs.Soon after fruit-set, remove the smallest fruits or damaged ones, leaving 4 inches between those that remain.
- Pests and Diseases – Apples are prone to pests. To keep insects away from apple trees, make a solution of 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 quart of water. Pour this mixture into a wide-mouthed plastic jug. Hang the jug, uncovered, in your apple tree. Rake fallen leaves and bury them beneath the mulch or grind them with a lawn mower.
- Harvest – different apple varieties mature at different times and their harvest season can stretch from August to October.he stem should part readily from the branch when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and given a slight twist around, then up. Apples keep well for about six months and can be used for cooking if they are overripe.