The Apple

Part 3 - Growing Apples in Central Florida

Last week we began our discussion of Anna and Dorsett Golden apples, today I will continue with Pollination and other important information about growing apples. Most apples are self-unfruitful and require cross-pollination for adequate fruit set. Partial pollination will often result in a fruit containing one to two seeds. Most of the fruit which have only a few seeds and those in which embryo abortion occur will drop before maturity. ‘Anna and Dorsett Golden’ overlap at bloom. Thus, it is recommended that the two cultivars be planted together for good cross-pollination.

Propagation and planting:

Apple cultivars are not true to type when grown from seed. Therefore, growers are advised to obtain known cultivars grafted on suitable rootstock.

One to two year old healthy bare root trees obtained from a nursery should be planted without allowing the roots to dry. Apple trees may be planted any time during the dormant season, but the period from late December to February is best because this allows time for the roots to become established before spring growth begins.

Planting holes should be large enough to ensure that the root system is neither crowded nor bent. Extra long or broken roots should be pruned before planting. The plant should be placed in an upright position in the hole and planted at approximately the same depth it was in the nursery.

Cultivation:

Cultivation is usually necessary only for weed control and should be done as shallow as possible to avoid damage to the root system. An area approximately two feet from the trunk of the tree should be maintained in a weed-free condition. Mulches may be used to control weeds and conserve moisture.

Fertilization:

Fertilizer requirements for apples are largely unknown for Florida conditions. A balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or similar mixture is recommended. About one pound of this mixture for each year of the tree’s age is applied yearly until a maximum of 15 pound per year is reached. The fertilizer should be applied in two dosed with one half of the fertilizer in each application. The first application should be made during the dormant period in January and another application at the beginning of the rainy season June. The fertilizer should be broadcast evenly beneath the tree.

Irrigation:

The amount of water and when to apply it depends not only on frequency and amount of rainfall, but also on the type of soil. More frequent irrigations will required on sandy soils than on clay or organic soils. The area beneath the canopy of the tree should be wet to a depth of two feet at each irrigation which may require more than 50 gallons of water per tree for large trees or as little as 5 to 10 gallons for young trees.

Next week I will end with training and pruning and pest control.