Select Disease Resistant Apple Cultivars

HORT SHORTS

One of the most common mistakes that home fruit growers make is to select apple cultivars to plant solely based on fruit taste.  Good examples are 'Gala' and 'Honeycrisp' apples.  They definitely taste great.  However, both cultivars are neither resistant to diseases nor insects.  They are very challenging to grow, even to commercial fruit growers.  To produce high quality apples, a regular spray schedule is absolutely necessary to keep diseases and insects at bay.  Most home gardeners do not have the proper equipment for spraying and are not prepared for that much work.

How should gardeners select apple cultivars then?  Gary Gao suggested that home fruit growers should select disease resistant apple cultivars.  Common examples are 'Enterprise', 'Freedom', 'Jonafree', and 'Liberty'.  These apple cultivars are highly resistant to many diseases and also have excellent taste.  Fungicides may not be needed at all for disease control. 

Since most apple trees need cross pollination for successful fruit set, multiple apple cultivars with similar bloom time need to be planted in the same area.  Some nurseries also carry "3-in-1" or "5-in-1", which means three or five apple cultivars grafted on one tree.  This is really neat.  Gardeners only need one tree.  It is also high beneficial to select a dwarf tree for ease of spraying, pruning and harvesting.

Home fruit growers need to remember that insect control is needed for quality apple production.  Bagging fruits with a commercial apple bags, plastic bags, or paper bags could be one way to keep insects from attacking fruits.  For more information on apple production, gardeners are encouraged to purchase a copy OSU Extension Bulletin 940, "Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide," and OSU Extension Bulletin 780, "Controlling Insects and Diseases in Home Fruit Plantings" from their local OSU Extension office or OSU Extension eStore: http://estore.osu-extension.org/index.cfm .