Popular Types of Apple Trees to Grow
Fruit Reference Section
Now that we have had a look at the background and the main considerations that have to be borne in mind as regards fruit growing at home, it’s time to look at the individual fruits that you are likely to want to grow.
The subjects to come under discussion will include recommended varieties, suitable tree forms, the most appropriate pruning systems, the worst pests and diseases and anything else of importance.
Apples are easily the most widely cultivated tree fruit in the UK, both by fruit farmers and private gardeners. From the enormous number of varieties which are generally avail- able, here are some of the best for gardens.
One thing which will probably strike you as being particularly odd is the fact that Cox’s Orange Pippin has been left out. This is intentional. It is a very unreliable cropper and is susceptible to all the major pests and diseases. It is not the sort of apple that should be grown by anyone new to fruit growing. In fact, the only good point about Cox is its superb flavour and quality. The best system is to buy Coxes apples when you want them and grow a much easier and more reliable variety at home, for instance Sunset. There is now a self-fertile clone of Cox that is indistinguishable from the original, but is much easier to grow. It grows and crops well in North Yorkshire whereas the original Cox’s Orange Pippin was impossible.
Bramley might also have been omitted a few years ago on account of its tree size. Even on a dwarfing rootstock it needs careful growing to keep it in check. However M9 and the much more dwarfing M27 rootstocks have made it possible to grow quite small and manageable trees.
Both varieties have substitutes of almost equal quality and of infinitely better character.
Dessert Varieties (Eaters)
Bright red. An excellent early apple that is fast replacing Worcester Pearmain both in and in gardens. It is rather slow to come into bearing, but has good fruit size in a warm growing season. The fruits last much longer after picking than do those of Worcester It is a moderately vigorous tree and crops well on fruiting spurs so is fine for the more intensive tree forms. Cox, Spartan and Greensleeves are good among the .
Striped red. This first-rate apple has Cox as one parent. The flavour is good and the texture juicy. It is a variable cropper, being good in some years and bad in others. Usually does best in the south and east. Of moderate vigour and producing a fairly upright tree. Inclined to bruise rather easily so the fruit isn’t often seen for sale.
Very similar to, and a child of, Cox and certainly the variety to grow in gardens in place of it for a Cox-like flavour. The fruit tends to be on the small side for commercial growers, so is seldom grown. This, however, is of no consequence in a garden. A good spur-bearing variety and a tree of moderate vigour, upright and spreading.
Dark red, good flavour. A heavy cropping Canadian variety which sometimes needs thinning to maintain a good fruit size. A moderately vigorous, upright and spreading tree. Not the best garden variety because, although the flavour is good, the texture and skin are a little tough for British taste. Susceptible to apple canker.
Excellent and true russet flavour. A very old variety that keeps into March. Makes a fairly compact tree suitable for gardens.
The main commercial russet variety and very popular. The amount of russet on the fruits varies enormously, but there should normally be about a 50 per cent coverage. The texture is rather dry, but the flavour is characteristically nutty. Reasonably reliable cropper and suitable for intensive tree forms.
Liable to carry fruit only in alternate years (biennial cropping) if allowed to; prevent this by thinning the crop in an ‘on’ year. Juicy and with a slight aniseed flavour, but not widely grown commercially because it bruises very easily. Fairly resistant to spring frost Cox is one parent.
A new variety from East Mailing Research Station aimed at the multitude of people who like a green eating apple, but who can’t stand the sight or taste of Golden Delicious. It makes a compact tree that crops well from early in its life. Egremont Russet is a good. A great favourite of mine, but rather susceptible to apple scab in a damp year.
Mainly red; juicy and aromatic.
Kidd’s Orange Red
A New Zealand apple with Cox as a parent. Cox-like flavour and a regular and heavy cropper with a nice looking half-russeted skin finish. Slightly more vigorous than Cox.
An old and excellent late keeping apple. Very rich flavour and of only moderate vigour. Unfortunately, and as is often the case with old varieties, reliability and cropping are not as good as one might hope for.
Early Victoria (Emneth Early)
The earliest cooker and should be grown far more in gardens because it crops at a time when the new season’s cookers are expensive to buy. A longish apple of typical codlin shape; medium sized. A reliable and quite heavy cropper that responds excellently to intensive growing as fruiting spurs are formed readily. One of the few varieties that is best spur-pruned. Keswick Codlin is very similar to it.
Principally a garden variety. Does not form spurs readily, so best grown as a lightly pruned bush tree. Excellent cooker that fluffs up a treat. Medium to large; yellow when ripe.
The earliest popular cooker and the one most grown in gardens and commercially. A slow grower; but a regular cropper. A good pollinator for Bramley. Medium to large fruits with slight colour. Beautiful cooker that breaks up well.
Lane’s Prince Albert
Small and compact tree, first-rate for gardens and for growing in containers. Spurs produced very freely. Susceptible to, but quite resistant to scab so well suited to the wetter West. Fruit holds together well on cooking, so good for baking. My alternative to Bramley.
A heavy and regular cropper that keeps well. Very large fruit which break up well when cooked. Produces spurs readily. Moderately vigorous and upright, later spreading. A wonder indeed. Capable of producing enormous fruits that can weigh nearly 4lb (1.8kg).
It has been mentioned from time to time that apples can be grown as cordons and espaliers. Both these tree forms need the support of wires. They may, though, be grown either against a wall or fence or in the open garden. Cordons are more commonly grown in the open, espaliers against a wall or fence.
For cordons, 9ft (2.7m) long posts should be driven into the ground so that a good 2ft (60cm) is buried; they should be 12ft (3.6m) apart. Three horizontal wires are attached to the posts; the lowest 30in (75cm) above the ground, the next 2ft (60cm) higher and the top one 2ft (60cm) above that. To these wires are fastened canes, approximately 9ft (2.7m) long, at an angle of forty-five degrees. It is to these canes, not the wires, that the trees are tied.
The arrangement of wires for espaliers is slightly more extensive due to the nature of the training and the size of the tree. The height to which an espalier can be allowed to grow is governed by the height of the wall, fence or posts. For this last, the posts should be the same as for cordons.
The horizontal wires are normally stretched 1ft (30cm) apart, but this can be reduced to 9in (23cm) (three courses of bricks), provided that you keep the fruiting spurs smaller.
The most common and popular way of growinghas always been as bush trees pruned either on the regulated or, preferably, the renewal system. Some varieties, such as the cooker Early Victoria and the dessert variety Miller’s Seedling, respond better to spur pruning in which all new shoots not wanted as branches or extension growth are cut back to 2in (5cm) in the winter; the new growth on the branch leaders are cut back to half their length.
One of the most recently introduced tree forms is the spindle bush shape. This requires a minimum of pruning and, although this doesn’t produce a very pretty
tree, being rather more straggly than most people want to see in a garden, it does induce bearing early in the tree’s life and heavy crops are carried.
As regards the problems of pests and diseases, here are some of the most common, along with the best ways of dealing with them.
Pests and Diseases that Affect Apple Crops
Small punctures in leaves and fruit leading to distorted growth. Spray the tree with systemic insecticide before and after blossom.
Usually worst in April/May. Holes eaten in flower buds and leaves. Spray with contact insecticide when first seen and repeat as necessary.
Pink maggots in fruit from July onwards. Spray with contact insecticide in mid-June and three weeks later.
Active from before blossom until late summer Spray with systemic insecticide whenever seen.
Red Spider Mite
Pale, stippled markings on leaves with tiny yellow or orange mites and webbing underneath. Leaves may become bronzed. Spray with systemic insecticide fortnightly from fruitlet stage.
White maggot in fruitlets in June. Fruitlets drop. Spray with contact insecticide at petal fall.
Cotton wool-like colonies on twigs and branches. Spray with systemic insecticide.
Rough and cracked lesions in bark on branches and shoots. Remove small branches if badly diseased: pare off bark with a knife and paint with a suitable canker paint, such as Medo.
New shoots and blossom trusses covered with powdery white fungus. Pick off infected parts if only minor attack. Spray all infected trees with systemic fungicide when first seen and fortnightly thereafter.
Starts as black spots on leaves and then fruitlets. Later, cracks appear on fruit lesions. Spray with systemic fungicide as for mildew.
Spray in late July and twice more at three-week intervals before picking with systemic fungicide.