How to Plant a North Texas Backyard Apple Orchard

Topics: Apple, Orchard, Fruit Pages: 18 (5889 words) Published: September 22, 2013

How to Plant
North Texas


June 2012
Fort Worth, TX


Table of Figures


Planting an apple orchard provides much more reward than just the apple. There is something magical about planting and harvesting your own apple trees. The beauty of the apple inspired one of America’s finest writers.

Painted by the frosts, some a uniform clear bright yellow, or red, or crimson, as if their spheres had regularly revolved, and enjoyed the influence of the sun on all sides alike,—some with the faintest pink blush imaginable,—some brindled with deep red streaks like a cow, or with hundreds of fine blood-red rays running regularly from the stem-dimple to the blossom-end, like meridional lines, on a straw-colored ground,—some touched with a greenish rust, like a fine lichen, here and there, with crimson blotches or eyes more or less confluent and fiery when wet,—and others gnarly, and freckled or peppered all over on the stem side with fine crimson spots on a white ground, as if accidentally sprinkled from the brush of Him who paints the autumn leaves.

Henry David Thorough, Wild Apples, 1863

I am writing this handbook to inspire and provide an approach for apple lovers who may not believe planting a backyard apple orchard is possible in North Texas. This handbook will discuss the apple tree, primary planting considerations, and the planting and care of your orchard. This handbook goes beyond just the basics and introduces the reader to apple tree topics such as scion selection, rootstock selection, and diploid and triploid trees. If you are an aspiring North Texas apple orchardist, I hope this handbook inspires you to plant a successful orchard and reap both the spiritual rewards, as well as the bountiful harvest. Understanding the Apple Tree

Apples are like people. Each apple seed, a pip, is a unique tree. Every apple has a history; some go back hundreds of years. Where was the first tree of it’s type grown? How long ago was the variety named? How did it get it’s name? What does it taste like?

Although we only find a few varieties of apple in our local grocery store, there are in fact over six-thousand known varieties of apple .

Unfortunately, commercial growers select apples they will grow based on the varieties ability to make a profit, not for their taste. This motivation drives commercial growers to select varieties that have a low cost of production while having the largest market appeal. This generally limits commercial growers to a small percentage of cultivars that are disease resistant, pest resistant, fast producing, heavy cropping, very shiny, and solid green or red.

I personally believe the best apples are not red, green, or shiny. My favorite apples are heirloom cultivars that are not good commercial apples. They are in fact not particularly attractive from a grocery shelf point of view, but have flavors and aromas that escape grocery store apples. A bonus is that many of the heirloom apple varieties have fun or interesting names. How would you like to grow an Espous Spitszenberg, Ashmead’s Kernel, Egremont Russet, or a Kidd’s Orange Red in your backyard?

Each apple cultivar has a profile that includes blooming period, harvest period, size, color, texture, flavor, and aroma, among others. Describing the thousands of apple varieties is beyond the scope of this handbook. I recommend you do a little research at a number of the apple nurseries I list later in this guide to learn about varieties that may appeal to your taste. How many apple trees make an orchard?

There is no hard fast rule that says how many trees qualify as an orchard. More important is the minimum number of varieties you must plant in order to bear fruit. Apple trees come in three fertility types: self-fertile,...
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