Visit your nursery or local extension office to find out what diseases and pests afflict apple trees in your area. Learn the symptoms and treatments.
Choose an appropriate cultivar, considering disease resistance.
Choose the planting site. Apple trees need full sun, good soil drainage and shouldn't be crowded together. Don't plant in valleys. Don't plant near cedars.
Submit a soil sample for testing through your local extension office. The test will suggest the appropriate fertilizer. Test annually.
Obtain the whips, 1-year-old trees with bare roots. Don't let the roots dry out.
Soak the whip's roots for a half hour before planting.
Dip a hole large enough for the roots, putting the top soil in one pile, the subsoil in another.
Put the whip in the hole, spreading out the roots.
Add the top soil to the hole, holding the tree so the graft point is at least 2 inches above the ground.
Add subsoil, stopping before the hole is completely filled.
Add 2 gallons of water to the hole.
Finish filling in the hole with soil.
Spread mulch 2 to 3 inches deep over the area where the roots are spread, keeping the mulch from touching the tree trunk.
Prune the whip back to about 2 feet tall.
Weed 12 inches in all directions from the trunk.
Water every two to three weeks, giving each tree about 2 to 3 gallons.
As the growing season progresses, remove branches that aren't at least 18 inches from the ground.
Attach clothes pins to 4- to 6-inch-long branches to train their crotch angle to be greater than 45 degrees from the trunk.
Remove clothes pins after the first season.
Fertilize annually in the spring. If using 10-10-10, start with 1 lb. per tree in the first year, increasing 1 lb. each year until you reach 6 lbs., using that much thereafter.
Remove branches after the first growing season that appear below the lowest lateral branch.
Prune the tree so that lower branches are not shaded by upper branches. Tree growth should taper with height to form a pyramid shape, with one central branch creating the tip.
Thin fruit clusters when apples are about the size of a marble so that apples are 4 to 6 inches apart.
Check for disease and pests when watering. Apply pesticide or disease treatment according to directions.
Pick fruit when it is ripe.