Apple tree orchards can provide a large-scale commercial apple crop or a simple harvest of abundant fruit for the home orchard. Most apple orchards grow dwarf tree varieties for ease of picking. One dwarf apple tree will produce up to 500 apples per season, according to Earth Easy. The tree will continue to produce fruit in abundance until it reaches 15 to 20 years of age, and than the crop often declines.
Planting several varieties of apple trees can produce apples over an extended time period of up to eight months due to their varying harvest times. Apple trees come in dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard sizes. Dwarf trees require only a small space and begin producing apples as early as 3 years of age. They stand 4 to 5 feet in height. Semi-dwarf trees reach a height of 16 feet and produce several hundred apples per season. A standard tree can tower 30 feet in height. They can serve as a beneficial shade tree in addition to providing their ample apple crop each season.
Apple trees require two separate apple tree varieties to ensure pollination occurs. Without adequate pollination the apple tree will produce little or no apples. Two apple trees of the same variety cannot pollinate each other and the tree cannot self-pollinate itself. The two varieties must have overlapping blossom times, according to North Carolina State University.
Apple trees require pollination to occur before producing crops. Honeybees and other native bees serve the purpose of pollinator. Commercial apple orchards place honeybee boxes in the orchards when the blossoms first appear, according to Colorado State University. Care should be taken to not use insecticides on the apple trees during blooming time because insecticides can kill the valuable pollinating bees, which will reduce apple crop production.
Consider planting a multi-graft tree in the small home yard. A multi-graft tree contains two or more tree varieties grafted onto one root stalk and trunk. The tree is capable of self-pollination and produces two or more apple crop varieties which often have varying harvest times for ongoing fresh apples over a longer period of time.
Apple trees often produce an overabundance of fruit when pollination is exceptional. Too many apples on one branch will result in a severely stunted or unhealthy crop. Thinning of the apples will help yield large, healthy apples. Remove fruit when they are approximately dime sized. Thin the fruit so that the apples are spaced approximately 6 inches apart, according to North Carolina State University.
The apple maggot can seriously damage apple crops. The apple maggot lays eggs on the growing fruit. The eggs hatch over a 5 to 10 day period. When the maggot emerges from the egg it burrows into the apple fruit and ruins it. The apple maggot can be controlled by hanging sticky insect traps within the apple tree.
Apple trees require ample water to produce large, juicy fruit. Keep the apple tree moist during the hot summer months. It does not like water-logged roots but it does appreciate moist soil. Rake up all fallen leaves from beneath the tree to limit the risk of diseases from developing and effecting the apple crop.