Most areas of Oregon provide wonderful apple-growing opportunities, allowing gardeners to harvest fresh, crisp fruit off of their own trees. Not only do the trees make great additions to the garden, but the fragrance of apple tree blossoms in the spring is also a pleasant effect. In the fall, the ripened fruit should taste great picked right from the tree, or the fruit can be dried, cooked, turned into sauce or juice, or put into a variety of baked goods.
The state of Oregon features five growing zones ranging from hardy Zone 1 to the coastal, warmer hardy Zone 5. Zone 1 offers the most challenge for apple growers because the short growing season in this area means frost can occur even in the summer.
Apples grow best in Zones 2 through 5 thanks to their longer growing seasons.
A variety of trees grow well in Oregon, although apple scab disease affects some apples. The best apples to grow to avoid scab disease include Redfree, a medium-sized crisp, sweet red apple or Liberty, a medium red apple rated as having the best flavor of the group. Fire blight is another problem with apples, especially in Gala, Fuji and Braeburn varieties. To avoid fire blight, gardeners plant blight-resistant trees such as Liberty or Red Delicious for their sweet flavor or Stayman Winesap, a dull red tart apple.
Most apples trees require another apple tree with which to pollinate; otherwise, the tree will not produce fruit. For gardens with enough space for two trees, this poses no problem. If space is of a premium, though, gardeners should consider planting dwarf or self-pollinating trees.
Apple trees grow best when they’re planted in full sunshine in well-drained soil after the danger of a late frost has passed. Gardeners should avoid planting apple trees near buildings or walls where cold pockets of air might settle and cause the tree harm. Planting the trees on a hill or small mound on the highest part of the land works best. New apple trees require thorough watering, especially until they’re well-established.
Apple trees need their first pruning after 3 to 4 inches of new growth appears during the first summer. This process requires selecting on upright branch to be the leader and removing all growth within 4 inches of this branch. This type of pruning encourages outward growth so the tree has more branches on which to grow fruit.