Caring for Your Backyard Apple

Maybe it's to save money, but I'm hearing more and more people who want to have backyard apple trees or even peach trees for that matter.

Consumers of apples seem to prefer large, highly colored, firm fruit that is free of bruising or other defects, such as insect and disease damage. If you want to grow apple trees to produce quality fruit, attention needs to be directed to performance that is directly related to proper management.

Here, I'm talking about good pollination, proper pruning, fruit thinning, fertilization, controlling competition from ground covers or weeds, and water management. Actually, these cultural practices are also applicable to peaches, plums, and even cherry trees. Too often, we plant apple trees or another fruit tree and then wait several years before we begin planning a program for its care. At least put your plans together before you order those trees, and that includes ordering certain varieties that will meet the needs of your family and friends.

Before you begin growing fruit trees as a hobby, for instance, obtain all the information available for backyard orchards. Just don't go down to the landscape dealer this spring and pick out a pretty apple tree and take it home. Poor planning can result in a big disappointment, not to mention loss of time and money.

Excellent sources of materials on raising fruit trees are in the many books at your favorite book store, at your local Cooperative Extension Office, and of course, on the web. If you are looking at a fruit tree catalog, don't forget that they have a variety of information included with their variety description.

Keep this in mind, most often bargain basement trees may not meet your intended results. "You get what you pay for" is the old saying.

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