Early Harvest apple trees produce small, yellow apples that mature months before most of their peers. The apples are slightly tart and eaten raw or baked. Early Harvest apple trees grow well across most of the U.S. They are hardy, high-yielding trees that grow taller and wider than most other apple trees.
Most apple trees need 16 feet of space between them, but dwarf trees need only six to eight feet of space. They need full sun and well-drained, phosphorous-heavy soil. Fruit-bearing dwarf trees often require permanent staking for support. It is necessary to maintain, prune, and protect your trees from pests. Lastly, many greenhouses and horticulture centers recommend applying mulch.
Early Harvest apples are also known as Yellow Juneating, Yellow Harvest and Yellow June. The skin is yellow, but the flesh is white and tangy, and is good for eating and cooking. In most areas these apples ripen between June and July, while the majority of apples ripen much later in the summer and fall. The USDA created 11 hardiness zones, based on lowest average temperature, that stretch from Fairbanks, Alaska, (zone one) through to Honolulu, Hawaii (zone 11). Early Harvest apple trees grow in zones three to eight, which includes the majority of the continental US.
Early Harvest apples are small, yellow, soft, and slightly tart. When ripe the apples often have an orange blush on one half of the orb. They bruise very easily and do not last long after harvest. Like McIntosh, Horse, and American Summer Pearmain, their primary use is cooking.
The Early Harvest apple tree is a particularly high-yielding varietal. It needs moist, well-drained soil and full sun for six to eight hours every day. This tree grows up to 20 to 25 feet tall with a mature spread of 20 to 25 feet wide. There are, however, dwarf and semidwarf varieties that reach up to 10 or 15 feet, respectively. The dark green leaves are two to four inches wide, coarse-veined and toothed, and alternate on the twig. The tree is a fast grower, averaging 24 inches per year until maturity.
Ripening in June and July makes Early Harvest apples among the earliest apples ready for eating cooked or uncooked. They have a slightly tangy, acidic flavor. Especially when picked early, use these apples for pies, sauces and other baked goods.