Some varieties set no fruit at all when self pollinated, while others under favorable conditions set a fair crop. Yields are better when there are enough varieties for cross-pollination. There are a number of popular varieties which are poor pollinators (triploid varieties) but most are diploid, which pollinate each other very well. It is important to have at least two diploid varieties in a collection, unless the pollinator chosen is sufficiently self-fertile alone. When choosing varieties select those which will flower about the same time or overlap by a few days with others. There is some variation in the flowering periods of varieties but on the whole the times are very consistent. Winter temperatures and district can affect flowering periods.
In the varieties listed below are in seven flowering groups. Select if possible varieties within the same group for pollination. The old very late variety `Crawley Beauty’ is sufficiently self-fertile to set a crop.
Most varieties bear their fruit mainly on spurs formed on the older branches. The tip bearers do so on the tips of one year-old shoots. Some sorts fruit on both kinds of wood.
Named varieties are propagated by vegetative means, as they do not come true from seed—by budding in July or August or by grafting in March or April on to clonal rootstocks appropriate to the size of tree desired. The following rootstocks are commonly used: Mailing IX (very dwarfing), Malling 26 (dwarfing), Mailing VII (semi-dwarfing), Merton-Malling 106 (semi-dwarfing), Mailing II or Mailing I, the latter for wet soils (moderately vigorous), Merton-Malling III, Mailing XXV and Crab C (vigorous).
Dwarf trees permit spraying, pruning and harvesting to be done without the need for step-ladders; they are also more easily protected from bird damage.
A number of small trees in a range of varieties covering a long season is preferable to a few large trees each giving an excessive quantity of fruit at one season and with one flavor. On average, a cordon tree gives 1.5-2.5kg (3-5lb) of apples, pyramids 3-4kg (6-8lb), bush trees on Malling IX rootstock 12.5-15kg (25-30lb), bush trees on Mailing II 40-50kg (80-100lb), and larger trees according to size.
Alternatively, a ‘family’ tree having several varieties grafted on the one trunk can be grown or additional varieties be grafted on to an established tree which is yielding glut crops.
Apple trees have a long expectation of life and may remain fruitful and healthy for 50 years or more.
Cultivation Apples prefer deep loams but can be grown on sandy soils and heavy clays, if care is taken to drain wet soils and irrigate dry ones.
Cordons [planted 75cm (2 1/2ft) by 1.8m (6ft)]; espaliers [3-5m (10-18ft) apart], and arcure trained trees [90 x 180cm (3 x 6ft)], are grown against walls, fences or on post and wire supports; dwarf pyramids [105 x 210cm (31 x 7ft)], spindle bushes [180 x 390cm (6 x 13ft)] , pillars [180 x 300cm (6 x 10ft)], bush [360 x 360cm (12 x 12ft)], and half-standards [480 x 480cm (16 x 16ft)], on an open, but sheltered, site. Provide wind-breaks if natural shelter is not present.
Plant in November, if possible, or up to the end of March whenever the soil is sufficiently friable. It is best not to incorporate farmyard manure before planting into any except the poorest of soils. Plant as firmly as possible, ramming the soil round the roots with the square end of a stout post, and tie the tree to a substantial stake. Mulch the root area to conserve moisture in the soil during the first season, thereby minimizing the transplanting check to growth.
Subsequently, control the vigour balance by applying farmyard manure annually as a mulch in the spring and fertilizers according to the tree’s needs.
Trained trees respond to being summer pruned in July or August, the side shoots being shortened to five leaves, the leaders remaining unpruned. Winter pruning consists of shortening summer-pruned shoots to two buds and reducing the lengths of the leaders by a third. Bush and half-standard trees are not summer pruned: in winter, the dead and crossing shoots are cut out and also sufficient branches to keep the head of the tree to an open habit. The leaders are shortened by a third for the first four years only—leaving them unpruned from then onwards induces the branches to droop and become more fruitful.
Putting the soil down to a mixture of fine grass and clover, which is kept cut short, retards tree growth and induces fruitfulness. In addition, dessert apples take on a better colour when grown in grass than under clean cultivation and have a longer storage life.
Many varieties set an excessive number of fruitlets and hand thinning is necessary if the apples are to grow to a worthwhile size. Many fruitlets fall naturally to the ground during the ‘June Drop’ but additional thinning is necessary in June and July. Each cluster of dessert fruit must be reduced to two fruitlets, always removing the largest one—the ‘king’ fruit—first, and the clusters reduced to at least 7cm (3in) apart. Thin cookers to single fruits 16-20cm (6-8in) apart.
Apples are ready for harvesting when well colored, with the seeds becoming brown in colour, and when they part readily from the fruit spurs. Test for fitness for picking by raising each apple to a horizontal position, giving a slight twist—if the stalk separates readily from the spur, without tearing, the apple is fit to pick.
Eat early maturing varieties direct from the tree or within a few weeks after being harvested. Store keeping varieties in a cool, dark, moist and frost-proof place.
Flowering Times for Apples
Aromatic Russet (B)
Keswick Codlin (B)
Adam’s Pearmain (B)
Beauty of Bath Ben’s Red (B)
Cheddar Cross Christmas Pearmain (B)
Laxton’s Early Crimson
McIntosh Red Melba (B)
Rev W. Wilkes (B)
Ribston Pippin (T)
St Edmund’s Pippin
Warner’s King (T)
Early mid season
Belle de Boskoop (T)
Blenheim Orange (TB)
Bramley’s Seedling (T)
Cox’s Orange Pippin
Devonshire Quarrenden (B)
Early Victoria (Emneth Early)
King’s Acre Pippin
Kidd’s Orange Red
Miller’s Seedling (B)
Red Victoria (B)
Reinette du Canada (T)
Tydeman’s Early Worcester Tydeman’s Late Orange
Winter Quarrenden (B)
Allington Pippin (B)
Chelmsford Wonder (B)
Duke of Devonshire
Herring’s Pippin Lady Henniker
Lane’s Prince Albert
Laxton’s Superb (B)
Sir John Thornycroft
Late mid season
King of the Pippins (B)
Northern Spy (B)
Woolbrook Pippin (B)
Court Pendu Plat
Heusgen’s Golden Reinette
B=biennial or irregular flowering varieties. T=triploid varieties with poor pollen. Those not marked T are diploid varieties. Colored sports eg Red Millar s Seedling usually flower at the same time as the parent.