July 21, 2007
Plant of the Week
Apples are a popular homeowner fruit that can be produced successfully in most areas of Texas. For Central/South Texas, the key to producing quality apples in a home orchard are proper and timely care of the trees and variety selection. If you are unwilling to maintain the trees and fruit, then you should not plant them.
Plentiful sunlight is a key to maximizing fruit production. Choose an area in your landscape that is in the sun – most or all of the day, otherwise, expect reduced performance from the trees. Early morning sun is particularly important to dry the morning dew from the plants, thereby reducing the incidence of diseases.
Good drainage is a more important consideration than soil fertility. Avoid soils and sites that are not well drained. Poor drainage would be expected in an area where water stands for more than 24 hours after a rain. In these areas, roots will not receive enough oxygen and will die, resulting in stunted growth and eventual death of the tree. If such conditions exist, planting on a raised terrace will help. In areas with alkaline soils, cotton root rot is a severe problem for which there is no control at this time. If your landscape has a history of losing plants to this organism, avoid planting apples because they are very sensitive to it.
Many apple varieties can be grown in the homeowner orchard of Central/South Texas. Top varieties are listed in order of ripening season. The recommended rootstock for the homeowner orchard would be M9.
Early to Mid-June
Dorsett Golden – yellow, low chill apple for South Texas only. Good pollinator for Anna.
Anna – medium-size low chill apple for South Texas only. Has a slight red blush, crisp, good-flavored fruit. Noted for heavy production. Plant with Dorsett Golden for pollination.
Late July – Early August
Gala – orange-red, flavor is like a spicy Golden Delicious. A top quality eating apple.
Early to Mid August
Mollies Delicious – red, excellent dessert quality, not Delicious-type, although very similar in appearance and flavor. Good pollinator.
Early to Mid September
Fuji – red, sweet flavor, good crisp texture.
More information on growing apples for the Central/South Texas homeowner may be found at:
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call the Master Gardener ‘Hotline’ at (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu, click under Horticulture and Gardening.