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The Best Cross-Pollinators for Red Delicious Apples

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Red delicious apple trees produce large, crisp apples each fall. This particular cultivar grows well throughout a wide variety of growing environments and puts out a harvest throughout most of its life cycle. However, cross-pollination of the red delicious apple tree cultivar is crucial to the healthy and successful production of apples.


Cross-pollination is a process that involves apple trees of two different cultivars. When these trees are planted in close proximity to one another, the pollen from one tree is moved to the red delicious; in this way, both trees are fertilized and will produce fruit. The red delicious apple tree is a type referred to as self-unfruitful. This means that it is incapable of producing fruit if the only other apple trees are other red delicious trees.


Choosing the right cross-pollinator for a red delicious apple tree is crucial to the production of a large crop of apples from both trees. A wide variety of trees work well with red delicious, including lodi, Braeburn and Fuji, as well as liberty, Cortland, Jonathan, golden delicious and Granny Smith. The only apple tree that won't pollinate a red delicious is another red delicious.

Bloom Times

Planting red delicious apples with other trees that bloom during the same period provides a greater chance of successful pollination and therefore a larger harvest. Some of the ideal trees for bloom periods include Jonagold, gala, golden delicious and winter banana apple trees. Some overlapping trees include Jonathan, Redtree, snowdrift crab and Granny Smith apple trees. Choose the right cultivar for the growing area for the best results.

Growing Location

The other key factor in encouraging successful cross-pollination of the red delicious and its paired cultivar is how close the trees are planted. Planting trees too close creates competition for nutrients and resources, but too much space may prevent bees and other pollinators from moving from the red delicious to its cross-pollinator and vice versa. Plant the trees around 60 feet apart to encourage them to grow to their fullest extent while still receiving pollination.

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