All About Apples

Apples

Apples are from the rose family, Pyrus Malus, and have been cultivated for over 3,000 years. 

Apple orchards require year-round care. After all the apples are picked, the grass around the trees needs to be mowed to keep the rodent population down.

In winter when the trees are dormant they are pruned to encourage a better harvest. The trees are fertilized before blossom time in early May. The weather, along with with insect traps that catch both beneficial and harmful bugs, from this time on are monitored closely to determine spraying programs to prevent disease.

During this time the trees are not only growing this year’s apples they are forming next year’s buds on the branches too.

Then it is harvest time. Harvest is determined by the sugar/starch ration (and by taste!) of each variety.

Apple Trees

We currently have about 7,000 apple trees at six orchard sites.  Every spring we plant more trees and give them special treatment for the first few months; supporting them with a pole and training their little limbs to grow at the correct angle.

Most of our apple trees are growing on dwarf rootstock. There are, however, some trees that are near the highway which are called “standard” trees.

Dwarf trees are small; can plant 200 or more trees per acre and will produce apples in 3-6 years.

Standard trees are large; can plant 40 trees per acre and will produce apples in 8-12 years.

Dwarf trees require more limb training and pruning but are easier to pick.

Standard trees require large equipment and are difficult to pick due to their height.

Some apple trees in our orchards are of the semi-dwarf variety and thus a little larger than the dwarf.

Pollination

Just before blossom time we rent honey bees from a beekeeper. Most apple varieties need a pollinator, like bees, to pollinate the blossoms. The beekeeper delivers the bees, feeds them, adds extra boxes to the hive stacks, harvests, and bottles the honey. We sell his honey in our store. This honey, however, is probably not just form our hives but contains a mixture of our honey and honey from his other hives in this region. Some folks with allergies need local honey ad we cannot say with certainty that it is just from our area.

Apple Varieties

Late July/Early August

Jersey Mac A great all purpose apple from the McIntosh family.

Puritana sweet early eating apple

Duchess the “queen of baking” apples – high in pectin and quite tart

Early-Mid August

Zestar first planted in 2001, this pinkish apple is crisp and juicy – a favorite of the Honeycrisp folks 

Paula Red a white-fleshed cooking and eating apple – crisp and similar to Cortland

Mid-Late August

Molly Deliciousa sweet yellow and pink eating apple from the Red Delicious family

Ginger Gold from the Golden Delicious family – greenish/gold and great to eat or cook

Late August/Early September

McIntoshall-purpose, great to eat or cook, breaks down more than a Cortland when cooking

Gala a mild sweet flavor and stores very well

Jonamac this cross of McIntosh and Jonanthan is great to eat or bake

Honeycrisp cripsy and great for cooking or eating

Early-Mid September

Cortland a large white-fleshed all purpose apple that is snappy, crisp and tangy, a favorite of our bakers

HaralsonWisconsin’s “Granny Smith” apple with lots of tangy flavor

Mid September

Spartan wonderfully crisp and juicy, this all purpose apple is tangy and fruity

LindaMac sweeter than a McIntosh but not as soft and keeps fairly well

Mid-Late September

Empire a cross between a McIntosh and a Red Delicious it is sweet/tart and the perfect salad, cooking, baking or eating apple

Late September/Early October

Golden Deliciousa delicate yellow/green apple which is sweet/tart and used to eat or bake

Early October

Red Delicious this old favorite eating apple is firm and sweet and wonderful fresh off the tree!

Early-Mid October

Russett An antique apple, hard fleshed, rough looking and wonderful to eat or cook.