The Q&A Archives: Best apples to plant

Question: I live in Greenville, S.C., zone: middle south.
Please advise me on the best dwarf apple trees to grow and also the best full size apples to grow?
Thank you.
James Schendel

Answer: There are a number of apple varieties that will produce well in your gardening region. Since most apples are not self-fruitful, you'll need a second variety to ensure apples. Choose trees that bloom at about the same time and you should have bumper crops.

Rootstock influences apple tree size. There are three general categories of tree size: standard, semi-dwarf and dwarf. Standard trees are propagated on seedling rootstock and produce large trees that may get to be 15 to 20 feet tall. Semi-dwarf trees are trees propagated on one of several clonal (vegetatively propagated) rootstocks that produce trees that will be about three-fourths the size of standard trees if grown under similar circumstances. The most common semidwarf rootstocks used for apples in South Carolina are MM.106, MM.111 and M.7. Trees on M.7 will produce the smallest trees in the semi-dwarf category while MM.106 will produce trees nearly as large as trees on seedling rootstocks.

True dwarf trees will be about 30 to 40 percent as large as standard trees and require support by a trellis or post. The most common dwarf rootstocks are M.9 and M.26. Trees grown on M.9 are the smaller of the two. So, if you have a choice, choose trees grown on the rootstock that will give you the mature sized tree you desire.

Apples to choose from include:
Anna: Excellent-shape fruit with blush of red; ripens mid-June to early July.
Dorsett Golden: Yellow apple of good quality; ripens mid-June to early July.

Jerseymac: Very early red apple of excellent quality; good for fresh eating, sauce and pies; ripens in July.
Ginger Gold: Very early crisp yellow apple of excellent quality; good for fresh eating, sauce and pies; ripens late July to early August.
Gala: Excellent quality apple; good for fresh eating or salads; ripens in early August.
Mollie?s Delicious: A versatile apple; good for fresh eating, pies and sauce; susceptible to fire blight; ripens in late July.
Red Delicious: Early fall variety ripening in late August; large, firm, crisp; sweet; good for fresh eating or salads.
Fuji: Fall variety ripening in early October; does not color well, but quality is superb; good for cooking, eating and baking.
Mutsu: Ripens early October; yellow apple of exceptional quality; crisp and juicy; slightly tart; all-purpose.
Yates: Late fall variety ripening in October; small, dark red; juicy; mellow, sub-acid; best keeper.
Granny Smith: Matures in late September to early October; yellow-green apple of excellent quality; good all-purpose variety.

Priscilla: Red skin color; crisp flesh; mildly sub-acid; excellent dessert quality; ripens late July to early August.
Ozark Gold: Matures late July to early August; yellow, russet-free apple of excellent quality.
Golden Delicious: Early fall variety ripening in late August; large, firm, crisp; sweet; good for fresh eating or salads.
Jonagold: Ripens early September; very large, yellow apple with red blush; very high quality; sweet, juicy apple.
Rome Beauty: Ripens early October; red apple primarily grown for baking.
Stayman: Ripens early October; rusty red finish; superb quality, tart, all-purpose apple; fruit-cracking a problem when dry period is followed by rainy period.
Arkansas Black: Fall variety ripening in October; very dark and red and very firm; great keeping; tart, juicy; good cooking, eating and baking.

I've grouped them according to flowering dates so choose at least two from each group for best crops.

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