The common apple tree produces a variety of fruit from Red Delicious to Macintosh. Although each type of apple has distinct growth requirements, common growth habits are evident among all apple trees. Understanding not only the growth rate but also the contributing factors controlling the growth rate will ensure successful production of your favorite apple variety.
The Arbor Day Foundation sets trees into categories according to their rate of growth. Slow-growth trees grow less than 12 inches per year. Medium-growing trees achieve growth of 12 to 24 inches per year. Fast-growing trees grow more than 24 inches each year. Apple tree growth depends on the variety because different varieties grow at different rates. Red Delicious apples are fast growers while Stayman Winesaps are in the slow-growth category.
Look for apple trees to grow up to heights of 30 feet when pruned properly. Average growth for apple trees makes them shorter than most other trees, which reach heights of more than 100 feet.
Optimum growth for apple trees depends on various factors. Proper fertilization, watering, sunlight and soil can help trees achieve rapid growth and development. Consideration of local weather also determines the growth rate; extremely cold winters, early or late frosts, and long dry seasons can affect growth.
Wait for fruit to develop after the tree has reached a level of maturity. Apple trees require up to four years growth before producing fruit.
Use control measures to ensure proper tree development. Insufficient space required for growth is caused by various factors including overfertilizing the soil, using incorrect rootstock, improperly integrating scion compatibility or planting trees too close together. Control growth using methods such as scoring, ringing, root pruning and chemical treatments.