Apples on a tree


How to grow: Apple

At a glance


• Apples like cold winters, which makes cool to cold areas the best for growing top quality apples.
• Many apple varieties will cope with extremely cold conditions, including snow.
• Different varieties of apples require a certain number of ‘chill hours’ (i.e. hours below 7ºC) to produce flowers and fruit.
• ‘Low chill’ varieties allow gardeners to grow apples in the subtropics.


• Apples grow best in full of sun, but will tolerate part shade.
• A gentle slope facing north or northeast is ideal.
• Do not plant where spring frosts occur, which will damage flowers. Choose a protected spot uphill – don’t plant in frosty gullies.
• They also need good air circulation to minimise disease.
• Trees need protection from strong winds to avoid damage to flowers and fruit.


• Apples are adaptable to a wide range of soils, but do best in deep, fertile, well-drained soils.
• Heavy soils can be improved by incorporating gypsum and organic matter and mounding the soil before planting.
• They will grow in a wide pH range, but the preferred pH is 6 – 7.5.


• The best time to plant apples is in winter when they are dormant and leafless.
• This is when nurseries stock the widest selection of bare rooted trees.
• Potted and bagged trees are available at other times of year and can be planted then, as long as the roots are not disturbed.

Feeding and watering

• Regular light feeding in the first few years will encourage strong healthy root and canopy development.
• When trees start cropping, fertilise in early spring, summer and autumn.
• Use a well-balanced organic fertiliser applying a good handful per square metre in the area from the trunk to one metre beyond the drip line (the line directly beneath the outer canopy).
• Apply gypsum once a year to provide additional calcium.
• Keep them well watered, particularly through the summer months when fruit are forming. When there’s no rain, give trees a good soak at least once a fortnight and keep trees well mulched.

Early training

• Apples need formative pruning early in their development to establish a good framework for fruit production.
• Aim to create a vase shaped frame with an open centre and evenly spaced branches. This allows light into the centre of the tree, as well as good airflow and easy maintenance.
• In the initial stages, each winter, cut the main leaders back by half to outward facing buds. This will encourage branching.
• During summer, pinch out any inward facing growth.
• Retain 5-10 main branches that are evenly spaced around the tree. Avoid overcrowding.
• Apples can also be trained as an espalier flat against a wall or free-standing frame.

Pruning established trees

• Apples are produced from fruiting buds that appear on wood two or more years old.
• Most fruiting buds appear on gnarly, stubby protrusions known as ‘spurs’. These are long-lived and produce fruit for many years, so don’t be tempted to remove them.
• Fruiting buds are plump and contain about five flowers.
• New, vigorous upward growth needs to be removed each year; otherwise they will turn into branches and make the tree overcrowded.
• Fruiting branches will produce lots of fruit for about 10 years, after which some of the older fruiting wood should be removed and gradually replaced with new fruiting growth.

Fruit thinning

• Apples produce lots of flowers and fruit.
• It’s not necessary to thin these, but removing one or two overcrowded fruit in each developing cluster when they are the size of marbles will result in larger fruit and more regular ripening.


• Apples begin bearing after 3-4 years, reaching peak production after 6. The trees remain productive for 40 years or more, sometimes up to 100 years.
• The main harvest period is between March and July.
• Ripening is not uniform, so it’s not possible to harvest the entire crop at one time.
• Pick fruit when any red pigment is very bright and green is pale.
• Ripe fruit show little resistance to picking. Lift and twist the fruit, leaving the short stem attached.
• Test the fruit – it should be juicy with a well-developed flavour.

Choosing a tree

• There are literally thousands of apple varieties.
• Choose a variety that suits your area and palate. Your local nursery should have a list of good performers for your climate.
• Most apples are self-sterile. You will need two compatible varieties for cross-pollination to achieve good crops. Their flowering periods must overlap. They will pollinate each other – both trees will bear fruit. If you are short on space, buy a multi-grafted tree with two compatible varieties or plant two compatible trees in the one hole.
• ‘Jonathon’ is a widely compatible pollinator of cool climate varieties.

How long until my tree produces fruit?

April 12, 2019 OGW Growing Guides

In the age of instant gratification, fruit ordered on your grocery delivery app might be delivered in a matter of hours. However in the natural world plants still abide by the “Laws of Nature”. So when we hear the frequently asked question of “How long will it be until my tree produces fruit?” Or “Why hasn’t my tree started flowering or fruiting yet?” our first question is, “Well, how long ago did you plant your tree?” And while one to seven years might seem like a long time on our human time scale, consider the life cycle of your precious fruit tree…

Let’s begin by going back in time at least 5000 years ago, to a time before humans reigned supreme. Now imagine for a minute that you are actually the spry little Apple tree in the fertile valleys of Central Asia or perhaps a freshly sprouted Pawpaw tree in the lush floodplain of the Potomac River. Your first thoughts as a newly sprouted tree are not on “the act”, called procreation, which is, in this case, the act of making fruit & seeds. Instead, your thoughts are on establishing a deep root system, creating branches and soaking up as much sunlight as possible. While you get a foothold in the rhizosphere and stake your place below and above the ground you claim your niche. A young tree is learning about sun exposure, soil depth, seasonal changes, nutrient availability, rain cycles and so on. For maybe even ten years a young tree might not make any fruit. This is because the process of making a fruit is very energy intensive. As a young tree trying to survive in the natural world you can’t afford to flower, fruit and drain all your seasonal energy reserves when young. Yet just like every other species, whether plant or animal, your ultimate goal is sexual reproduction. So, conditions have to be just right and you have to be ready otherwise you won’t be able to ripen fruit and create offspring in the form of seeds.

Now let’s fast forward to modern times when the all the fine fruited flora of the world has been moved around far outside their native climates. Fruiting plants are being asked, urged, begged and even engineered by technological advanced bipedal mammals (humans) to produce as much of their sweet juicy nutritional fruit as possible. (A lot of pressure to be under, huh?) Although plants do their best to adapt to every situation, there are definitely limits to a plants ability to change, thrive and reproduce. Ensuring bumper crops or more precisely, consistent fruiting requires effort and understanding. Let’s find out what it takes to make human frugivores happy.

What exactly does it take for a fruit tree to make big juicy fruit early in its life and then reliably season after season?


The most obvious start to discussing fruit is of course pollination! Many species require pollination in order to set fruit. Two types of flowers exist that need pollination. First, flowers that are self-incompatible meaning they are unable to accept pollen that is genetically identical to themselves, like Pawpaw Trees. The second type is called dioecious, meaning, having male and female flowers on separate plants, like Sea berry bushes. Plants evolved with a variety of pollination strategies. A plant that is self-fertile goes through life only pollinating itself and this is called inbreeding. This type of pollination ultimately limits the genetic diversity within its offspring. When plants are cross-pollinated by another variety the genetic diversity has been mixed and the pollen will fertilize the ovules and your desired fruit can begin to take form. Fertilization or cross-pollination is required and that is what produces big juicy fruits like Apples, Pears, Plums, Cherries, and so on.

Cross-pollination is not as simple as just planting two different varieties of your favorite Apple or Pear tree. First, you have to be sure the trees flower at the same time. If the tree’s flowers aren’t open and receptive at the same time or at least sufficiently overlapping then no pollination will occur. Once you’re sure flowering occurs at the same time then, you have to be sure they are compatible pollenizers for each other. The compatibility issue can get a little tricky with the number of chromosomes making a difference. Luckily, there are online pollination charts that provide detailed information. Useful charts will reference flowering time and compatibility. You can find local resources like local university extension agencies for information. Online fruit tree pollination charts will bring up a wealth of information related to cross-pollination. Often it takes decades of scientific observation from university research programs to determine reliable compatibility and publish these pollination charts. One such research station is at Washington State University and One Green World has delivered many of the fruit trees to be studied and recorded. Here you can find the results WSU Fruit Tree Project

For dioecious fruiting plants such as Kiwis, Sea Berry, Schisandra, and others a male plant is required to fertilize the female plants and achieve pollination. The male plant will produce no fruit. Males have flowers with stamens that produce only pollen which is needed to pollinate the female ovules. Typically, one male plant will pollinate up to about 7 female plants. Within dioecious species, we often find rare hermaphrodites that have both male and female flowers on the same plant. This makes it possible for one plant setting fruit. These special self-fertile dioecious plants like Eastern Prince Schisandra and Issai Hardy Kiwi are examples of hermaphrodites.

Chilling Requirements

The chilling requirement of a plant is the minimum period of cold weather after which a fruit-bearing tree will blossom. It is often expressed in chill hours, which can be calculated in different ways, all of which essentially involves adding up the total amount of time in a winter spent at certain temperatures. Usually, chill hours are added up as the number of winter hours with temps between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Fruit trees have different chill requirements and each variety needs to be assured that winter (as far as it is concerned) has come and gone and it is now time to produce fruit. Species from cooler climates require a higher number of chill hours to know that winter has passed and it’s time to flower, otherwise, a warm spell in winter or even spring could lead to damage of emerging buds. Thankfully many low chill varieties have been developed for warmer climates. Growers in warm temperate, subtropical or even tropical climates can grow cold climate fruit trees like Apples. If you want to get really technical and learn the different ways to count chill hours or just check your varieties requirements then go to UC Davis Fruit Tree Chilling Accumulation Models

Fertility and Soil

Many gardeners are guilty of loving their plant to death with fertilizers and an ever-expanding selection of soil amendments. Another common method of too much love is overwatering. For a young fruit tree, all that love might actually provide too much of a “good thing” in their new home. An excess of Nitrogen can cause a tree to produce a bountiful abundance of lush deep green growth but no fruits for a few years. Excess nitrogen is usually the primary culprit as we often hear of gardeners with explosive young vegetative growth on their tree and then a lack of flowering and fruiting for a few years. The theory behind this is that trees, especially young ones, that are happily growing in a vegetative state don’t feel the pressure to reproduce sexually. They can happily go on growing and reaching for the sky as they strain to get above any other competitors that may be growing next to them in order to swallow up that precious sunlight. One remedy for too much Nitrogen is to add Phosphorous amendments like Epsom Salts or Fish Bone Meal. We recommend planting right in your native soil and then top dressing with compost, fertilizers, amendments, minerals, and micro-nutrients. Backyard Orchardist is a great book for beginners and experienced alike. Penn State has an incredible resource site, especially for the Eastern US growers. Check out Penn State Extension agency for links, videos, and up to date research on growing fruiting plants. If you really want to nerd out on soil and fertility check out the USDA’s powerful mapping tool. You can dial in your growing area and go deep into the soil food web. Click the round green button that says Start WSS here on this page Web Soil Survey

Pruning and Heading Back New Growth

Besides cutting back on nitrogen-rich fertilizers another strategy that many folks have found useful is to prune your tree. Don’t be afraid to make cuts on your tree! “Prunephobes eat no prunes” as they say. We’ve found that summer pruning on new growth that was headed back by a quarter to a third of its length in July and August often causes the young branch to begin creating flowers or fruiting spurs sooner. This is especially true with Hardy Kiwis, so for anyone wondering why their kiwi hasn’t fruited yet, try summer pruning! One theory on why this stimulates fruiting is that we are mimicking an herbivore’s browsing. When we prune this sends a message to the plant that it is time to start creating seeds and fruit. Read UC Davis Home Orchard’s “Ten Basics Of When And How To Prune Fruit Trees”

Plant Stress

We all know what stress can do, it affects every living organism. The truth is stressors can be both good and bad. Good stress makes one stronger while bad stress can cause lasting damage. In a controlled way, pruning is a stressor that shapes fruit production. So with plants how do you draw the line? Old time remedies range from hitting your tree with a broom to more recent interpretations involving ramming the tree with a tractor! Old folk wisely tell you to do it in the middle of the night so your neighbors don’t think you’re crazy. Technique aside the idea here is that the stress caused by mechanical damage can stimulate the tree into fruiting. We have witnessed accidents, for example, when a vehicle hits a tree knocking it over but not killing it. We suggested pushing it upright and supporting. Later we find out the tree is now thriving and making too much fruit! While some folks have found success with this method we caution against creating any serious mechanical damage. We have found that regular pruning can be just as helpful in encouraging your tree to set consistently heavy crops. WSU has a great article from their orchard program called Environmental Stress Management.

Stressors from the previous growing season can be another factor contributing to how your tree flowers and fruits in the current season. If a tree was stressed for any reason, be it diseases, winter freeze or spring frost damage, lack of water, sunlight or nutrient deficiency in the previous growing season then it will quite likely set less fruit or no fruit the following season. We often talk to customers who fail to water their trees at all in our dry summers and are surprised when their tree stops setting fruit. Given that the flowers you see in the spring were created during the previous year’s growing season it should come as no surprise that a stressed tree would not create as many of those energy intensive flower buds. We recommend deep weekly watering during the summer for at least 3 years after planting.

A common stressor for many apple varieties and other trees to some extent is overbearing in a single year which causes little to no fruit the next year, what’s called a biennial bearing cycle. This boom and bust cycle can easily be broken by thinning the fruit in the heavy years to balance out the bearing cycle. Often these trees are stuck in this on/off cycle baffling the homeowners. Penn State Extension has excellent related resources on renovating old fruit trees on a page called balancing Apple and Pear tree production in home plantings.

Grafted vs Seedling

Plants grown from seeds can provide growers with another lesson in patience as fruiting plants grown from seed often take longer to fruit than those that are grafted or rooted from cuttings of mature fruiting plants. When we graft or root a branch off a mature plant we are propagating material that is already “pre-programmed” to be fruit-bearing. You often see grafted trees and plants grown from cuttings flowering as soon as their buds open. While you wouldn’t want a newly propagated tree to send its energy into making fruits it clearly illustrates how ready they are to do so. The advantage of growing seedlings is the ease of propagation and genetic diversity. A plant grown from seed is genetically unique and in order to discover new varieties or hybrids, we must grow seedlings. The professional plant breeders who are growing out seedling for research trials will graft the young seedlings on to dwarfing rootstock which causes the “seedling” if you can still call it that, to produce fruit sooner. This saves the plant breeder years of time by effectively fast forwarding through years of vegetative growth and being able to evaluate the fruit quality sooner.

Why do my new fruits begin to grow then shrivel and fall off?

Aborted fruits is another common issue for home orchardists and is a frequent common question we receive. Many folks see their trees produce a profusion of beautiful flowers only to be let down when the tiny fruit shrivels up and drop off. The truth is plants are unburdened by anything but natural law so aborting some or all of their fruit if conditions are not right is a very common and natural phenomenon. All the factors previously discussed can contribute to this and alleviating those issues almost always cures the aborted fruit problem, but if it persists consider getting a soil test done to assure your tree is receiving proper nutrition. Locally you can find companies that provide soil testing and soil amendment recommendations for a wide variety of fruiting crops. If you check out the NRCS website you can learn all about soil testing here at Small Scale Solutions for your Farm.

Hopefully, this will help guide you with information to alleviate any non-fruiting plant issues you may have and provide you with the knowledge to cultivate bountiful harvests. We hope you receive “olive” the fruit your heart desires in this coming growing season.

Thanks for reading! As promised here is your $5 off coupon for purchases of $25 or more. Use the coupon code: Firstfruit

Grow Your Own Magazine

This is a difficult question to answer precisely, since it will be somewhat influenced by the growing conditions (soil, climate etc).
Also bear in mind that seeds will be as different to their parent as human children are.
Seedlings will have some similarities with their parent, but also many differences depending on the other (unknown) parent and depending on which genes they happen to inherit from each of their parents.
Modern apples, for example, are often pollinated commercially by crab apples. So a pip from a shop-bought fruit may well turn out to be a something between a crab and a domestic apple – probably about the size of a golf ball (in-between crab and domestic apple size), and also posessing some of the rather hard and rather bitter characteristics of its crab father.
Pips and seeds from home-grown fruit are generally more likely to either be self-pollinated, or to have been pollinated by another domestic apple. In these cases, the fruit may be reasonably good – but the outcome is still very variable.
Generally speaking, seedlings will be vigorous. Like humans, they often have a hormonal mechanism which prevents much reproduction until they are approaching ten years old – sometimes 20 years old.
This is intended to allow the tree to become large and strong – to compete successfully against the other big, old, established trees.
Needless to say, with all its energy going into growth for many years, seedling trees often become very large. Pears grown from seed can take even longer to crop and can become extremely large – much bigger than apples.
Modern rootstocks have been carefully selected in order to encourage the tree to crop at a much younger age than if it was a seedling, or grown on a seedling rootstock.
Seedling trees, being genetic individuals, also will vary in the amount of fruit they produce (I have heard of some which never fruited, while others fruited after just a couple of years). Generally speaking, seedling rootstocks produce lighter crops than the specially-selected rootstocks onto which we graft fruit trees.
Also, a seedling tree will have unpredictable resistance to the various pests and diseases. Generally speaking, commercial (shop-bought) varieties are very prone to disease, and their offspring tend to inherit this susceptibility. This can result in very sickly seedling trees which remain weak, stunted and unproductive. Certianly my experiments with seeds from shop-bought fruit have resulted in the death of all seedlings by the age of five, usually due to powdery mildew (which is a big problem in my area). I have no surviving seedlings from shop-bought fruit.
I do have a handful of promising seedlings grown from pips of my own fruits (often old, rare varieties with good disease resistance), but the seedlings are several years old and have yet to fruit.
In summary – by all means grow some seedlings for a bit of fun, but don’t expect much from them – in that way you won’t be disappointed.
Certainly don’t waste the time growing a specimen tree from a pip unless you can afford it to produce few fruits or poor quality fruits.
If you want a specimen tree, or if you want early and near-guaranteed result, buy a ready-grafted tree.
If cost is a problem, many come up for sale on clearance for a few quid each, around February-April each year.

How long before my fruit tree will start to produce fruit?

Customers often say that they have heard of mature ornamental trees being transplanted, and wonder why mature fruit trees can’t also be transplanted. Part of the answer is simple market forces and supply and demand, but it is also partly because ornamental trees are usually not grafted on to size-controlling rootstocks and therefore reach maturity later, so the check to growth from the transplanting process is less.

How do I know the age of my apple tree?

We always state the age of the tree when we supply it – usually this will be a 1-year (maiden) or 2-year tree. If you can’t remember how old your tree was, just contact us and we will have the details.

To keep it simple you can assume all trees have a ‘birthday’ in November, and the tree’s age is basically the number of summers which it has been growing. So to work out the age of your tree just add the age of the tree when purchased to the number of whole years since the November of the year in which you purchased it.

Can I plant a tree and get fruit the same year?

There are several approaches you can take if you want to plant a tree and get fruit off it in the same year – although it is by no means guaranteed.

Firstly, you can plant 2-year old apple trees grafted on the M27 rootstock. These trees always remain very small, not getting much beyond about 1.5m or so. However they will probably produce a small number of apples in the first autumn after planting.

You can plant trees that have been trained as spindle-bushes. This is the training style used by commercial orchards, specifically to get heavy and early fruiting, and the trees may fruit in the first season after planting – and in subsequent years should become very heavy cropping.

Many of our larger crab-apple trees will blossom and fruit in the first season after planting.

It’s harvest time! Have you recently planted your own apple tree and are wondering how long does it take for an apple tree to grow? Here’s all about how long you’ll be waiting to harvest your own yummy apples!

How Long Does it Take for an Apple Tree to Grow

Apple trees bought in nurseries will generally start producing a small crop of apples about 3 years after planting. Apple varieties grafted onto some dwarf rootstocks may bear fruit in as little as two years after purchase. Apple trees with standard-height rootstocks may take longer to grow apples – generally from 3 to 5 years. An apple tree grown from a seed will take six or more years to produce fruit!

Harvesting Apples from Apple Trees

Fresh organic apples are abundant in the fall. Each apple tree produces fruit only once per year. Harvest time here is between August and October…one of the best times of the year (along with blossom season). An entire year’s worth of apples are harvested during this abundant time of the year!

Apple trees are truly gorgeous throughout the year. From the display of blossoms in the spring to the harvest of fruit in the fall, the apple tree is truly a showstopper in the yard. Once you’re ready to harvest, consider having a harvest dinner or fall picnic to celebrate the bounty you’ve earned.

Apples can be harvested by gently turning each apple upside down so that the bottom is facing up to the sky. There is no need to twist or pull on the apple. It will come off the tree gently when inverted.

Planting Your Own Apple Trees

Or are you in USDA zones 4-8? Have you noticed apple trees in neighbours yards? If so, you can consider planting your own mini-orchard. Growing your own organic apples is a bit of an exercise in patience, but the effort is rewarded sweetly each fall.

If you do decide to plant your own apple trees, you’re in luck! Fall is the perfect time to plant new trees. Not only are trees generally reasonably-priced in the fall, they also are headed into winter dormancy. After they’ve produced fruit all summer, fruit trees get a break in the fall and winter seasons. Planting trees in the fall will ensure they don’t have to endure the stresses of the hot sun and parched soil, nor the burden of producing fruit. Newly-planted trees can cozy up in their new homes for the winter. Your new trees will be right at home by the time they blossom in the spring.

Planning Your Orchard and Purchasing Apple Trees

If you’d like to start growing organic apples, first take a look at your property to decide the best location for the trees. Pick an area of your yard that gets ample sunlight, preferably in the morning. You’ll also want to make sure this area is accessible for future apple picking. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least two trees of two different varieties to ensure cross-pollination. Take some measurements to bring along to the nursery with you.

Once you’ve planned your planting area, head down to your local independent nursery for some trees. Talk over the available varieties with nursery staff. Pick two varieties that blossom at the same time to ensure good pollination. If local availability is limited, it’s also possible to buy apple trees online (here’s my take on what it’s like to buy trees online). Common, conventionally-grown trees like Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, and Fuji are available throughout the year from larger retailers while more unique varieties and certified organic trees may only be available in the shoulder seasons.

If you can only fit one tree in your yard, you may be able to find a self-pollinating type. Alternatively, you might get away with a single tree if your neighbours also have trees. You may also consider planting dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties. These smaller trees make for an easier apple harvest (especially for children). Discuss your individual needs with the staff at your local independent nursery. They will know the specifics of your region, including the best varieties and other geographically-specific tips.

Growing Apple Trees from Seed

If you’re not into buying trees, it is possible to grow apple trees from seed. Growing apple trees from seed does not always produce delicious apples. In fact, the apples produced by a tree grown from seed will not be the same as the apple from which the seeds were collected.

If you do decide to grow your own trees from seed, start with seeds you’ve collected from local organic apples that you thought were delicious. According to Paul Wheaton, there is about a 20% chance your new tree will produce delicious apples and a 60% chance that the tree will produce “ok” apples. They might be good for making juice, for making apple sauce, or even for pies. They’ll be ok for something. Unfortunately, there is a 20% chance that the tree will be a “spitter”. Spitter apple trees produce apples that are not good to eat. These apples can be used to feed livestock, or you can chop down the tree and make apple chips for smoking meats. I’m not sure how scientific these percentages are either.

Growing organic apples from seed isn’t exactly standard practice. All the apple trees you see in nurseries and orchards are likely grafted. If you are a little adventurous and very patient, try these instructions for growing your own trees from seed.

How to Plant Apple Trees

If you decide to buy trees rather than growing from seed, as I did, place the new trees in their containers close to their future homes on your property. Rotate the container around to find the most suitable orientation of the branches. Once you’re confident about the future homes for the trees, dig a hole for each tree. If you’re not sure about the location, you may want to observe the environment in your yard, try out a few areas, and find the best location for your trees.

For dwarf varieties, plant the trees between 15 ft and 50 ft apart. Each hole should be quite wide (perhaps twice the size of the container in which the tree is delivered). Hole depth, however, should not be deeper than the tree’s container. Resist the urge to “improve” the hole by adding fertilizer. This will only encourage the tree to grow at exactly the time it needs to be going dormant for winter.

Place each tree in the hole so that the soil in the container is at the same level as the surrounding ground. Backfill the hole with the existing soil and lightly tamp it down. Do not compact the soil excessively.

How to Grow Organic Apples

Give the tree a thorough watering after planting. If you wish to feed the tree, a light mulch of compost can be applied on top of the soil after you’ve finished planting the tree. Ensure that no soil or mulch is touching the tree trunk. Soil and mulch should never touch the bark of any tree, as it invites moisture, bacteria, and rot. If you mulch the tree with shredded fall leaves for the winter, keep the same rule in mind. Mulch, of any kind, should never touch the bark of a tree.

Don’t try to do too much to the tree before it goes dormant for winter. Fall is not the time to start pruning a newly-planted apple tree. Some instructions may call for fertilizer at this point, but that is not recommended. Beware that if you use chemical fertilizer to your apple tree, it won’t be organic anymore! Top dress the soil with a bit of compost in the spring if you must, but otherwise just make sure it has enough water and leave it to it’s own devices.

General Maintenance for Growing Organic Apples

In the winter or early spring, you can give the tree a light pruning if necessary. Remove any cross-branches (branches that go in odd directions) or dead/damaged/diseased parts of the tree. As you are working with a young tree which has been recently transplanted, be gentle with the pruning. Don’t remove too much of the tree in it’s first year. Your goal is only to improve air flow around individual branches by reduce branch crowding. You want the sun’s rays to reach into the centre of the tree, and want air to be able to circulate around each branch.

If you are new to pruning, I recommend borrowing a copy of The Pruning Book, by Lee Reich, from your local library or friendly fruit enthusiast. Lee is a fruit-growing guru who is known for his scientifically-based yet easy-to-follow method of instruction. His book, Grow Fruit Naturally, is also an excellent resource if you find that pests are invading your trees. There are several methods of chemical-free, natural pest control suited to growing organic apples.

Enjoying Your Organic Apple Trees

Orchards all around the valley are opening up for farm tours and u-pick harvesting. There is something magical about the crisp fall air and abundance of fresh food at this time of year. Start with a farm tour and harvest your own apples for the winter. Then cozy up for a nice apple pie or warm cinnamon cider.

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4 ()




Yes (64)

Data value

dec: 260 hex: 104 bin: 100000100



This article is about the natural food item. For the rarer, more beneficial food item, see Golden Apple.

Apples restore two full points of hunger. But WAIT! They can also be crafted with gold into golden apples – which heal the same amount of hunger but give you health regeneration and absorption buffs on top. Horses like apples too, and feeding one to a baby horse will help it grow up big and strong.

— Duncan Geere

Apples are food items that can be eaten by the player.



Oak and dark oak leaves have 0.5% (1⁄200) chance of dropping an apple when decayed or broken. This amounts to approximately 10% (1⁄10) chance to get an apple from an oak tree and 15% (15⁄100) chance from a dark oak tree. Breaking leaves with a tool enchanted with the Fortune enchantment increases the chances of dropping an apple: 0.556% (1⁄180) with Fortune I, 0.625% (1⁄160) with Fortune II, and 0.833% (1⁄120) with Fortune III.

Natural generation

Apples can be found in 33.5% of stronghold altar chests, 47.5% of stronghold storeroom chests, 59.8% of village weaponsmith chests, and 70.4% of igloo chests, all in stacks of 1–3; in 74.2% of plains village house chests in stacks of 1–5; and in 83.8% of bonus chests in stacks of 1–2.

In Bedrock Edition, they can be found in 32.5% of stronghold altar chests and 40.0% of stronghold storeroom chests in stacks of 1–3, and in all bonus chests in stacks of 1–2.


Apprentice-level farmer villagers have a 50%‌ or 2⁄3‌ chance of selling 4 apples as part of their trades.


See also: Hunger management

To eat an apple, press and hold use while it is selected in the hotbar. Eating one restores 4 () and 2.4 hunger saturation.

Crafting ingredient

Name Ingredients Crafting recipe
Golden Apple Gold Ingot +


Placing an apple into a composter has a 65% chance of raising the compost level by 1.



Main article: Advancements

Icon Advancement In-game description Parent Actual requirements (if different) Namespaced ID
Husbandry The world is full of friends and food Eat anything that can be eaten. husbandry/root
A Balanced Diet Eat everything that is edible, even if it’s not good for you A Seedy Place Eat each of these 39 foods. Other foods are ignored for the advancement. husbandry/balanced_diet


Java Edition Indev
0.31 20100105 Added apples.
Apples are currently non-functional in this version.
20100111-1 Apples are now functional and are edible, restoring 2 hearts. They are intended to replace mushrooms, which were previously edible.
Java Edition Infdev
February 23, 2010 At the bottom of a crafting guide they made, a player named JTE jokingly indicated that Notch dropped an apple when killed, and that apples could be crafted into something called a “golden apple” – this was a joke on the fact that apples were totally unobtainable.
20100227 Players named “Notch” now drop an apple when they die in addition to their inventory.
Apples are now used to craft golden apples.
20100327 With the addition of the respawn feature, apples have become legitimately obtainable in survival and renewable.
Java Edition Beta
1.8 Pre-release Apples can now found in the new stronghold storeroom chests.
Apples now restore 4 () instead of 4.
Apples are now stackable.
? “Notch” players no longer drop apples when they die, making them no longer renewable.
Java Edition
1.0.0 Beta 1.9 Prerelease 3 Apples are now found in the new stronghold altar chests.
1.1 11w48a Oak leaves now have a 1/200 chance of dropping an apple when destroyed, making apples renewable again.
12w01a Apples are now found in the new village blacksmith chests.
1.3.1 12w16a Apples can now be found in the new bonus chests.
12w21a Farmer villagers now sell 5 apples for 1 emerald.
Apples are now used to craft enchanted golden apples.
1.4.2 12w37a The apple’s texture has now been changed: the item sprite no longer has a dark outline and now has a more detailed look.
1.5 13w09b The Fortune enchantment now increases the chance of dropping apples.
1.9 15w43a Apples may now be found in igloo basement chests.
15w44a Average yield of apples has been slightly increased in bonus chests.
Apples can now no longer be used to craft enchanted golden apples.
1.11 16w33a Farmer villagers now sell 5–7 apples for 1 emerald.
1.13 17w47a Prior to The Flattening, this item’s numeral ID was 260.
1.14 18w43a The texture of apples has now been changed.
19w03a Placing an apple into the new composter has a 50% chance of raising the compost level by 1.
19w05a Apples now have a 65% chance of increasing the compost level in a composter by 1.
Pocket Edition Alpha
0.4.0 Added apples.
0.8.0 build 2 The apple’s texture has now been changed: the item sprite no longer has a dark outline and now has a more detailed look.
0.12.1 build 1 Added apples to the creative inventory.
Apples are now stackable.
Apples now restore 4 () instead of 4.
The Fortune enchantment can now be used to increase chance of dropping apples.
Apples can now be used to craft golden apples and enchanted golden apples.
0.15.0 build 1 Apples can now be used to feed horses.
Pocket Edition
1.0.0 alpha Apples can now be found inside igloo chests.
1.0.4 alpha Farmer villagers now sell 5-7 apples for 1 emerald.
Bedrock Edition
1.2.0 beta Apples can now no longer be used to craft enchanted golden apples.
Apples can now be found inside bonus chests.
1.10.0 beta Apples can now be found in plains village weaponsmith chests and plains house chests.
The texture of apples has now been changed.
1.11.0 beta Apples can now be found in desert, savanna, taiga and snowy taiga village weaponsmith chests.
Apples can now be used to fill up composters.
beta Farmer villagers now sell 4 apples as part of their second tier trades.
Legacy Console Edition
TU1 Patch 1 Added apples.
TU5 Apples are now stackable.
Apples now restore 4 () instead of 4.
TU12 1.03 The apple’s texture has now been changed: the item sprite no longer has a dark outline and now has a more detailed look.
1.90 The texture of apples has now been changed.
New Nintendo 3DS Edition
0.1.0 Added apples.


Issues relating to “Apple” are maintained on the bug tracker. Report issues there.


  • The sprite of red apples was the same as used in Notch’s game Legend of the Chambered.


  • An apple found in a stronghold chest.

  • An apple that dropped from decaying leaves.

  • Obtaining apples via villager trading.



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All good things—peach season, for example—must come to an end.

But in the life-affirming world of fruit trees, other good things tend to follow. I’m talking, of course, about apples.

Walk into a grocery store on any day in any month, and you’ll find apples. But there’s something about an apple in autumn, with its warmer days and crisp nights, that’s just right.

“Apples are a mood thing. If it’s still hot out, people just aren’t ready yet,” said Todd Nichols of Nichols Farm and Orchard in Marengo, Illinois who, with his dad and two brothers, tends to more than 10,000 apple trees.

People, those pies are not going to bake themselves. I know I’m ready. It’s easy to get in the right mindset once you see the steadily expanding bins of apples the Nicholses bring to the market. (They grow about 250 varieties!)

Here’s what you need to know to pick apples like a pro.

Summer to fall

Fall is when apple season really sets its pace and digs in, though it gets an early jump in summer with some varieties ready to pick in July. Summer apples don’t keep long, though. They’re best eaten right away.

The bulk of the harvest happens from September through October. In the arid climate of Washington, the nation’s top apple-growing state, the season runs into late November.

You’ll find the most variety at farmers’ markets right now, from the runaway hit Honeycrisp to heirlooms such as Macoun. The densest varieties, such as Braeburn and Granny Smith, tend to ripen last, Nichols said.

What to look for

Most apples start out green and develop a blush or fully redden as they ripen, according to Nichols. Still, certain varieties stay greener, so you can’t go just on color.

You can tell a lot more about an apple by feeling it.

Rub your finger on the skin. An overripe apple will feel waxy, Nichols said. (This is trickier with commercially grown apples, which are coated with a food-grade wax to keep them looking pretty.)

Feel for any bruises or soft spots—you don’t want those—and give the apple a gentle squeeze. While some types aren’t as firm-fleshed as others, if you feel a lot of give, that apple is probably old or overripe, Nichols said.

Photos by Charles Masters, food styling by Sue Li

Does size relate to flavor?

Nope. Big and small apples can be equally delicious. Size has to do with how growers “thin” their trees of their blooms, a necessary step, Nichols said.

The more a tree is thinned, the larger the apples will be. Not enough thinning results in very small apples on an overloaded tree whose branches could snap from the weight. “It’s a balance of thinning and pruning,” he said.

Cold storage

The key to keeping apples is to keep them cold.

They give off a ripening gas called ethylene that’ll ripen other fruits and vegetables around. That’s helpful if you really need that green bunch of bananas to turn yellow. Otherwise, keep apples separate and refrigerate them, which will slow down the release of ethylene.

The ideal setting, according to Nichols: 32 to 33 degrees, under high humidity. Store them in a tightly closed plastic bag to trap the humidity, and then put the bag in the produce drawer. To ensure it’s humid enough, go even further by placing a damp cloth in the bottom of the drawer, Nichols said.

Stored properly, apples, especially the denser, crisper varieties, should keep for several months—past the holidays, maybe even further.

“I’ve had tasty, crispy apples until May,” Nichols said.

1 / 41Chevron Chevron Coconut-Apple-Ginger Dal This velvety lentil stew is the antidote to holiday excess; skip the yogurt to make it vegan. Get This Recipe

The ease and nutritional value of eating an apple out of hand should never be underestimated, but this versatile fall fruit can also be baked, broiled or poached, as well as turned into apple juice, apple cider or applesauce.

Since National Apple Day is Sunday, Oct. 21, there’s no better time to break out some amazing apples than right now.

At grocery stores and farmers markets, it’s not unusual to encounter several different apple varieties, so make sure to pick fruit that works with how you plan to enjoy it. Plus, check out TODAY Food’s fall produce guide to see what else is in season right now and how to cook it.

Judy Kim

How to shop for apples

  • Apples should be firm and feel heavy for their size. Make sure the skin is smooth and free of nicks, wrinkles, dark bruises or soft spots.
  • There are hundreds of varieties of apple and what’s available can vary by region. For regular snacking, seek out apples that are sweet, juicy and crisp, such as Fuji, Gala, McIntosh and Jonagold.
  • When baking, it’s important to choose apples that are firm enough to hold their shape. Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady all fit the bill. For making a pie, tart, crumble or crisp, consider using a mix of apples to achieve a more interesting flavor.

How to store apples

  • Store apples in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. They should last a few weeks.

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  • Apples release ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening of other fruit around it, so it’s best to store them in their own bag, separate from other fruits.

How to prepare apples

  • Apples are easy to peel with a vegetable peeler. However, apple skins contain fiber and vitamins so if you don’t mind the taste or texture, leave it on for a more nutritious snack.
  • Use a melon baller to quickly remove the cores and stems from apples.

Great apple recipes to try

Samara Linnell

Life-Changing Homemade Applesauce

Sara Bir

No one will want to go back to the jarred stuff after trying this super-easy life-changing homemade applesauce.

Shauna Server

Substitute flavored granola for the homemade crumble in this recipe if you’re running short on time.


Warm Apple and Romaine Salad

Kim Baker

Warm apples are a delicious side for pork chops and other big cuts of meat.

Michael Persico / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Kale, Apple, Walnut and Sumac Onion Tabbouleh

Michael Solomonov

Enjoy this crunchy salad as a delicious side dish or vegetarian main course.

Lauren Salkeld

Apple Galette

Lauren Salkeld

This fantastic French dessert is surprisingly easy to make.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Spiced Apple Walnut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Giada De Laurentiis

A slice of apple cake may be a great idea for the perfect fall dessert, but it’s also a brilliant (and decadent) breakfast.

Judy Kim

Autumn Pasta Sauce of Cauliflower and Apples

Tracey Medeiros

Haven’t tried apples with pasta yet? Believe it or not, it’s pretty delicious.

Maureen Petrosky

Sparkling Green Apple Sangria

Maureen Petrosky

Combine apple cider, bourbon and sparkling wine to create this easy party cocktail.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Sausage, Spinach, and Apple Strata

Giada De Laurentiis

Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis adds apples to this hearty strata that’s loaded with sausage, spinach and tons of gooey mozzarella cheese.

Quentin Bacon / Clarkson Potter

Herbed Pork Tenderloins with Apple Chutney

Ina Garten

Ina Garten didn’t grow up eating pork, but she sure knows how to cook it now. Here, she pairs pork tenderloin with a homemade apple chutney, fresh ginger and raisins, a dish she says is “easy to make and delicious!”

Anthony Quintano / TODAY

Al Roker’s Apple Crisp

Al Roker

Nothing says fall like the smell of cinnamon and apples baking away in the oven. TODAY’s Al Roker incorporates Chinese five-spice powder in this recipe to give his apple crisp an extra kick.

Casey Barber

Apple Pie-Rogies

Casey Barber

Drizzle these mini apple pies with caramel sauce, top them with whipped cream or simply toss them in melted butter.

Samantha Okazaki / TODAY

Caramel Apple Pie

Gesine Bullock-Prado

By adding just one additional ingredient — heavy cream — to a traditional apple pie filling, the classic dessert becomes a gloriously gooey caramel apple pie.

Lauren Salkeld is a New York-based writer, editor and recipe developer. She’s the cookbook columnist for Tasting Table and has written for Food & Wine, Rodale’s Organic Life, Epicurious and Gourmet.

Eight Steps to Take when an Apple Tree Doesn’t Blossom

Apple tree blossoms are a sight to see, and if no blossoms come forth on your apple tree it may be for many various reasons; they could be an indication of some trouble somewhere or it may be just in the nature of things that blossoming is delayed.

1. What Kind of Tree?

Is your tree of the self pollination species or does it require another tree nearby for pollination and blooming? Discuss this with your tree provider before buying so you will know if you require to plant more than one apple tree or not; if lack of space is a problem then it is only common sense to get a self pollinating apple tree otherwise your tree will never bloom or bear fruit.

2. Soil

Check your soil and see that it is not tightly packed around the roots as this restricts them, thus preventing the tree from getting the nourishment it needs. Gently rake around the soil and try to loosen any extra soil from the root ball without disturbing the new roots. Apple trees need quick draining soil so it is best to add compost and grit to your soil for easy draining.

3. Light

If your tree is in shade it is in trouble; dig it up and move it to a sunnier place as fruit trees only thrive on plenty of sunlight. If another tree is casting its shadow on the apple tree, prune that tree so that the required amount of sunlight reaches your apple tree too.

4. Watering

If there had been no rain for some days a young apple tree will require about an inch of water per week; water generously after planting, so that the newly planted roots get adequate moisture and nourishment.

5. How Old Is The Tree?

Some apple trees take between 2 to 5 years before blooming; some are more affluent than others and bloom earlier while others take more time; so there may not be anything wrong with the tree, it is just fulfilling its nature.

6. Sleeping Beauty

A tree that always bloomed in its expected time may go dormant for a year or so, maybe gathering up its energy for the seasons to come.

7. Pruning

Like all trees an apple tree requires pruning and this could be the reason that your apple tree does not bloom after this operation. Pruning keeps a tree healthy, removing all unwanted shoots that come out from the base and the limbs and directing all the energy where it is required; however after this “surgery” the tree will require rest and will skip blooming for a year or two. Remember, after pruning to seal all open wood to prevent disease.

8. Keep the Garden Clean

To avoid apple tree diseases, like mildew and apple mosaic virus, which could interfere with blooming, the garden has to be kept thoroughly clean of dead leaves and rotting fruit, and pruning and organic spraying done regularly.

Some of the troubleshooting problems cited above can be avoided if care is taken before planting and before buying; if none of them fits your bill get professional help. It always helps to get expert advice especially if you are new to gardening or planting trees; all living things need all the help they can get if they are to thrive and blossom.

Apple Tree Problems: How To Get Fruit On Apple Trees

Apple trees are a great addition to any landscape, and if healthy, will provide an abundance of fresh fruit. However, from time to time, apple tree problems do occur and require attention in order to keep trees as healthy as possible. Don’t let your tree trick you. Even if it appears to be vibrant, you may occasionally wind up with an apple tree without fruit. Apple tree fruiting issues can be disconcerting to the home gardener, so learning how to get fruit on apple trees is helpful.

How to Get Fruit on Apple Trees

It goes without saying that most apple tree fruiting problems can be avoided by growing healthy trees. Obviously, a healthy apple tree will produce more fruit than a sick tree. Providing optimal conditions for your tree and sticking to a regular maintenance schedule will help your tree produce the most fruit possible.

Address all insect or disease problems promptly, as fruit size and crop yield is dramatically influenced by both insect and disease damage. If you are unsure of how to diagnose or treat insect or disease issues, contact your local Cooperative Extension Department for assistance.

When Your Healthy Apple Tree Does Not Bear Fruit

An apple tree without fruit can happen for a number of reasons. Learning more about these apple tree problems can help if your apple tree does not bear fruit.

Environmental Issues

If your apple tree is healthy but does not set fruit, it could be due to climate issues. Fruit trees require a period of cold weather to end dormancy and encourage spring budding. If the winter is mild, growth will be slow and the blooming period extended. This makes the tree susceptible to frost damage, which influences fruit production.

Pollination Problems

In order for fruit to be produced, most trees must be pollinated. Cold weather and a reduction in pollinating insects can cause trees to blossom but bear no fruit. For best results with apple trees, plant two different varieties close together for cross pollination.

Other Considerations

Some fruit trees, including apple, may bear very heavily one year and only minimally the next. This condition is known as biennial bearing and is thought to be due to the influence that a very heavy crop has on crop production the following year.

An apple tree without fruit may not be getting enough sun or water. Poor fruit production can also be caused by over fertilizing. Provide a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree, but not touching the trunk, for protection and moisture retention.

Honeycrisp doesn’t bloom

I am a Master Gardener volunteer who answers questions online. I am not an expert, I’m sorry that the title is misleading. It is difficult to know the extent of a person’s knowledge when it isn’t provided.

Flower buds are typically fatter and more round than leaf buds. Here is a link to a photo. . You could also contact the apple growers at the Arboretum and ask if you could go out and view some of their trees there or you could contact a local orchard and ask if they could show you the difference on their trees. Here is a link to the MN Apple Growers Assoc. maybe someone who grows apples can give you some guidance . I really can’t tell you exactly what is wrong with your tree, it just isn’t possible. You could also do a soil test to determine if the growing conditions are correct. Fertilizer for fruit trees should contain more phosphorus than nitrogen to promote fruit production rather than leaf growth. Here is a link to the U’s soil testing lab. . I provided you with links to University based information about growing apples, pruning and dealing with Japanese Beetles. That’s all I can provide for you.

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