How to Grow Early Harvest Apple Trees

Golden apples (Malus domestica)

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The early harvest apple tree is appropriately named. It's a high-yielding fruit tree that's grown for its delicious apples, and among the earliest to be ready for harvest. Native to New York prior to 1800, it bears medium-sized golden apples that are ready to be picked as early as July in certain locations. It's latest harvest can be expected in September.

The apples that grow on this tree have creamy white flesh that's both juicy and tart when they're ripe. They are a popular choice for baking when they're picked early, and the fruit can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Generally, the early harvest apple tree can grow to a height of 20 to 25 feet and a spread of around 25 feet at its maturity. There is also a semi-dwarf variety that grows to a height of 12 to 15 feet (and also has a spread of 12 to 15 feet), as well as a dwarf variety that grows to a height of about 10 feet with a spread of about 10 feet.

Botanical Name Malus domestica
Common Name Early Harvest Apple Tree
Plant Type Fruit tree
Mature Size 25 feet
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Moist, well-drained
Soil pH 6-6.5
Bloom Time Early/mid-season
Flower Color White/pink
Hardiness Zones 3-8
Native Area New York

Early Apple Harvest Tree Care

The early apple harvest tree will grow in an oval shape that spreads, though they can be horizontal, erect, or upright. This is a tree that grows at a very fast rate -- you will see height increases of more than two feet per year.

You can expect your standard-sized early apple harvest tree to bear fruit within six to 10 years, while the semi-dwarf tree will grow fruit in four to six years, and the dwarf in three to four years. These trees will bloom white to pinkish flowers in the early to mid-season.

Potential growers should also be aware that the tree's apples will often attract an array of different birds and mammals. Its leaves and branches are generally browsed.

Its nectar and pollen provide important nutrition for bees in the early to late spring season. The tree's stem or truck can also be destroyed by rodents and rabbits. They can also be susceptible to certain diseases that affect apple trees.

Light

This tree will grow best in full sun, so be sure to plant your early apple harvest tree in a location where it will get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil

The early harvest apple tree will grow best in moist, well-drained soil.

Water

These trees are not drought-tolerant, so you'll have to ensure that they receive the appropriate amount of water and that the soil drains well. The early apple harvest tree requires regular watering.

Temperature and Humidity

These trees come to life in the spring, when both their flowers and apples will grow.

Fertilizer

When it comes to fertilizing, location is key. You can spread nitrogen-rich fertilizer around the base of the apple tree, but it has to be about two feet out and six inches away from the trunk.

The fertilizer should be raked evenly into the soil, and this process should be repeated after three months (assuming it was first fertilized in the spring). The same fertilizer can be applied in a three-foot circle around the apple tree after its two years old.

Other Varieties of Apple Trees

To ensure pollination and fruit production, the early apple harvest tree will require a compatible cultivar (a second tree to cross-pollinate with). The second tree should be planted within 100 feet for the standard size tree, 50 feet for semi-dwarf tree, and 20 feet for dwarf varieties. They can be pollinated with Lodi, red delicious or red Jonathan, as well as a variety from a different apple family.

Pruning

The best time to prune apple trees is either late in the winter or very early in the spring when the trees are entering a dormant state. It's the time when leaves have shed before new buds will appear. Try to aim for just before the growth starts in the spring so that the cuts have time to heal and won't be left unprotected against the coldest winter temperatures.

Pruning is important for apple trees because it will allow growers to choose a basic structure for the tree, as well as make it easier to care for and potentially obtain a higher yield of fruit. You'll want to be sure to remove dead or diseased wood to help the tree remain healthy, and pruning can also allow sunlight to help the apples evenly ripen.