Plant apples in full sun in well-drained soil. Dwarf trees should be spaced 12 feet apart and allow 16 feet between rows. Semi-dwarf trees should be planted 15 feet apart with 20 feet between rows. Plant the top of the root mass just at grade with enough soil mounded to cover roots. The graft should be 1 inch above grade. In addition, mulches should be left away from the trunk and graft. Pile mulch in a donut around the trunk, but never touching the trunk.
Apples benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer. Feed them in fall or winter. Apples need some nitrogen but not too much so get a fertilizer with a high middle number (phosphorus) as it promotes flowers and fruit; such as a 4-5-3. If lower grade mulches like bark or sawdust are used be sure to add more nitrogen as they deplete nitrogen as they’re broken down.
Young apple trees should be pruned to encourage an upright shape. As they age, remove the leader and thin inner branches to develop a vase shape. Older trees need removal of center sprouts and older fruiting wood. There are entire books dedicated to the subject of pruning, investing a good one can ensure you have strong vigorous trees that will continue to produce heavily for it’s lifetime.
Disease and Pest Control
Apples often suffer from fungal diseases like scab, and powdery mildew. Timed spraying in winter can help to limit these problems. In addition, proper pruning can increase air flow in and around fruit and therefore reduce the potential of fungal diseases.
Insects such as scale, aphids, apple maggot can reduce yields. Timed sprays generally work best to control their populations. Codling moth is another common pest for apples, the OSU Extension Office puts out a bulletin every year for the best time to put out traps, as their cycle changes annually with the weather.
See a Spray Schedule to best target your efforts.
Please note that in order to get apples you must have at least two different varieties of apple. For example a Fuji will not pollinate itself, but it will pollinate a Gala and vice versa. If a neighbor (within 1/4 mile) has an apple of a different variety then you will most likely get apples.
Akane – Ripens in mid-August. Often considered the best early red. Vigorous and cold hardy. Akane shows resistance to scab and mildew. Use fresh, does not store well.
Arkansas Black– Ripens in October. Medium sized dark red (almost black) firm, crisp apple with sweet/tart aromatic flavor. Great for eating fresh, juice, apple sauce and hard cider. Flavor gets even better after 30 days in cold storage. Stores 3 months or more. Granny Smith and Golden Delicious are good pollinators.
Braeburn – Ripens in mid-October. Light red blush or stripe on green. Excellent blend of sweet and tart, very crisp and juicy. Some susceptibility to scab and mildew. Great storage life.
Chehalis – Ripens in late September. Good lively flavor, fine texture but a little soft. Some susceptibility to scab and mildew.
Cox Orange Pippin – Ripens in mid-September. Orange stripes on yellow. Flavor is unique and exceptional with a fine firm texture. Hardy and productive.
Criterion – Ripens mid-October with a sweet aromatic outstanding flavor. A very vigorous type.
Elstar – Ripens early September. Medium apples are fine textured, firm, and sweet. Excellent storage life and some scab resistance.
Empire – Ripens late September to mid-October. Dark red, medium sized fruit that is juicy, crisp and stores well.
Enterprise – Ripens early October. Red apples are sweet crisp and juicy. Very resistant to scab.
Freedom – Ripens in early October. Red apples that are sweet and tart. Very good disease resistance.
Fuji – Ripens in mid-October. Red stripe on a green apple. It has an excellent rich flavor. Some scab resistance. Excellent storage life.
Gala – Ripens in mid-September. Red blush or stripes on yellow. Strong sweet flavor and firm, crisp texture.
Golden Delicious (Yellow Delicious) – Ripens late September to mid-October. Very sweet and juicy golden apples are rather soft. Fair storage life.
Granny Smith – Ripens in mid-to-late October. Green apples are large and smooth grained. A unique sweet-tart flavor. Exceptional storage life.
Gravenstein – Ripens in late August to early September. Red striped on yellow apples that are firm, crisp and juicy. Excellent apple for all uses. Fair storage life.
Honeycrisp – Ripens in late September. Large crisp, juicy red apples are heavily produced and ideal for fresh eating. They have an excellent storage life.
King – Ripens in late September and early October. Large red apples are sweet and juicy. A favorite for baking. Fair storage life.
Jonagold – Ripens in October. Red blush on large yellow apples. They have an outstanding sweet flavor. Excellent variety for fresh eating or processing.
Liberty – Ripens in late September. Medium apples are red crisp, firm and sweet. Excellent disease resistance. Produces well on young wood.
Lodi – Ripens in August. Large yellow green apple has soft white flesh with a sweet/tart flavor. Great for juice, apple sauce and pie.
Macoun – Ripens Mid September. Medium size green apple with red stripes. Flavor is sweet with hints of strawberry and spice. Great for fresh eating and pie.
Melrose – Ripens in October. Medium-large apples are red, sweet and fine textured. Very productive every year, with excellent storage.
Mutsu (Crispin) – Ripens in late October. Moderately sweet green skinned apple. Large apples are excellent for fresh eating and baking.
Northern Spy – Ripens in mid-to-late October. Red striped apples have excellent flavor and quality. A good coastal variety. Storage life is excellent. Also a great cidering apple.
Pink Lady – Ripens in late September. Medium pink blushed apples are an excellent blend of sweet and tart. Resists browning after slicing and stores well.
Pristine – Ripens in early August. Yellow skinned apple that is firm, crisp and tasty. Disease resistant.
Red Delicious – Yields in mid- to late September to mid- October. Elongated apple with creamy white flesh, mildly sweet with notes of acidity. Long storage life.
Red Fuji – Ripens Lt. Sept./Early Oct. Redder skinned than “Fuji”. Very crisp sweet and flavorful apple that is an excellent keeper and pollinator.
Red Jonathan – Ripens Mid Sept./Mid Oct. More deeply colored than the original with tart, well balanced flavor. White flesh is crisp and juicy. Great fresh or cooked. Stores up to 6 months if refrigerated.
Red McIntosh – Ripens in Late September. A favorite for generations because of its juicy aromatic flesh. Medium sized fruit with red skin and white flesh. Fair storage life.
Scarlet Sentinel Columnar– Ripens mid-to-late September. Large apples are blushed red with white flesh. Fruit is juicy and sweet. Compact upright habit makes them excellent for patios and other small spaces.
Spartan – Ripens late September/early October. Medium apples are blushed red, with firm crisp texture. Vigorous and productive at a young age. Very cold tolerant.
Spitzenberg – Ripens Sept./Oct. Medium red apple with an orange flush. The yellow flesh is firm and crisp. The aromatic flavor improves with storage. Great for fresh eating, juicing, cidering and baking. Excellent storage.
Summerred – Ripens in August. A great Pacific Northwest variety, known to be a great apple for fresh eating, cooking and winter keeper. Features hints of strawberry, crisp texture, bright, sweet and tart flavor.
Yellow Transparent – Earliest variety of apple in the Northwest ripening in early-August. Yellow apples are crisp finely textured and somewhat tart. Excellent cooking apple. A good fresh apple, does not store well.
Yellow Newtown (Pippin) – Ripens Late October. Medium size yellow-green apple. Mild tart flavor becomes more aromatic and sweeter with storage. Excellent for (hard) cider, applesauce, pie and fresh eating. Keeps at least 3 months; longer if refrigerated.
Download a complete information sheet on apples, including apple varieties, apple ripening chart, apple pollination chart and apple general reference chart.