Among the hundreds of different kinds of apple trees, a few rank among the most popular, mainly due to fruit that is delicious both fresh and cooked. When selecting an apple tree, it is important to determine whether the tree blooms early, midseason or late, and what other trees are necessary for cross-pollination. With the exception of Golden Delicious, apple trees need to be pollinated by a different variety to obtain a good crop.
One of the most popular apple trees, both commercially and in home gardens, Red Delicious trees produce dark red medium-size apples that are ideal for eating fresh. They bloom early in the season, which means they need to be planted in areas that do not have a late frost. Red Delicious trees are best cross-pollinated by Golden Delicious and Gala.
Gala apple trees produce light red medium-size apples with yellow streaks that are sweet but mild flavored when compared to many other varieties. Gala apples are usually eaten fresh, but can be used in cooking when recipes call for a sweet apple. They bloom early or in midseason and are best cross-pollinated by Golden Delicious.
Although the name is similar, Golden Delicious apple trees are different from Red Delicious. They produce a yellow medium-size apple that is mild flavored and good for both eating fresh and cooking. Golden Delicious apples have a lower sugar content than many other apples, but are still flavorful enough for making apple sauce and desserts. The trees bloom in mid- to late season and are suitable for areas that have later last frost dates. Although they do not require other varieties for cross-pollination, Red Delicious, Gala and Empire are good choices for growing along with Golden Delicious.
Rome apple trees are ideal for areas with short growing seasons or that experience late frosts. They bloom late in the season and produce medium-size apples that are good for eating fresh and for cooking. It is considered one of the best cooking apples, since the flavor intensifies when cooked. Rome apples, also known as Red Rome and Rome Beauty, are red with light yellow or white dots on the skin. Recommended cross-pollinators include Fuji and Braeburn.
Fuji apple trees produce red fruits that are mottled or speckled with yellow or pale green. The apple's appearance is similar to Gala, but usually it is not as red. The flavor is sweet, and the texture crisp. Fuji apples are eaten fresh. Trees bloom in midseason, and the fruit develops late, making Fuji another good choice for areas with late frost, but not ideal for locations with an early fall frost. Good cross-pollinators are Rome and Braeburn.