Apple tree for sale are in the form of bare root plants. Choose a dormant 1 year old tree with good root systems. Dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties will bear in 3 to 4 years while standard-sized trees will bear in 5 to 8 years. Also look for disease-resistant trees which are easier to maintain, the best time to plant an apple tree is in the fall.
Here are the growing requirements of apple trees to know before buying:
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- Soil – Choose a moderately rich soil that is well draining and not too wet. It should also be able to retain moisture and air. Work into the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches if amendments are needed. This is the usual depth where the tree will root.
- Location – Apple trees grow well in sunny areas. To thrive, it needs at least 6 or more hours of direct sunlight in a day, space seedlings of regular sized trees about 15 to 18 feet in a row and 4 to 8 feet for dwarf varieties. You may also choose a site with a slope to keep the cold air away from your apple trees.
- Planting – Soak your rootstocks in water for about 24 hours before planting. The planting hole should be twice the diameter of the root ball and 2 feet deep. Loosen the soil on the walls of the planting hole to allow for easier root penetration. Fill the remainder of the hole with loose soil and press down firmly afterwards to remove air pockets. Do not add fertilizers on the time of planting.
- Pruning – Young apple trees do not need pruning as this will only slow down their overall growth and delay fruiting. Remove only the misplaced and dead branches. You can prune matured apple trees once it enters dormancy. To ensure better tasting and larger fruits, remove the excess fruits. This will also even out the production and 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 – Sad to say, but your apple trees are susceptible to pests. Make a solution of 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of sugar and 1 quart of water to keep insects away from your trees. Pour this mixture into a wide-mouthed plastic jug, hang it uncovered to your apple tree. Also rake the fallen leaves and bury them beneath the layer of mulch.
- Harvest – Apple varieties mature at different times and can stretch from August to October for their harvest seasons. Check the foliage and pluck the apples when their background color is no longer green. The stem should part readily from the branch by this time when the fruit is cupped in the palm of your hand and slightly twisted around and up. You can store apples and keep them for about six months and may also be used for cooking if bumper crops become overripe.