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February blossoms
Need help with apple tree
3 Posts
February 19, 2024 - 12:12 pm

Hi yall,

I'm in midwestern South Carolina, 6 miles from Savannah river and 20 mins from Augusta Ga but, I couldn't find a time zone near me when registering. I really hope someone can help me figure out why my biggest apple tree, (dont know what variety), has blossoms in February. The tree gets blossoms before it leaves. The only leaves are around the flowers. I have 3 other apple trees, (varieties unknown), within 30 feet but by the time they bloom, my biggest tree is done blooming and in full foliage. I saved some pollen from it last year and tried to pollinate the other trees 2 months later but only 1 of the other trees got 2 fruit total. Is there anyway to inhibit or prolong the flowering so that they all bloom together or, can someone help identify what variety my grandaddy tree is? If there is any info or pics yall need to help, please ask!!!20240219_112839.jpg

45 Posts
February 19, 2024 - 2:48 pm


You've got me stumped, but I'm wondering if the people at the The Southern Heritage Apple Orchard at Horne Creek Farm might know. They have Lee Calhoun's sizeable collection of southern apples, and they might be able to help. 



3 Posts
February 19, 2024 - 3:04 pm

Thank you so much for the reply!!!rnAn older gentleman was at my homestead almost a week ago and said that this is the first time he had ever seen an apple tree flower before any leaves were present. I will contact the Southern Heritage apple Orchard and see if they can help me.

Vancouver SW Washington
778 Posts
February 19, 2024 - 8:56 pm

Unfortunately they need fruit samples before going anywhere trying to judge what this might be. For example even all other species of malus show similar flowers to domestic apples. Having said all the negative there is one positive cue that I noticed regarding early flowers. Certain very hardy species of the north such as malus bacatta have less chill hours than malus domestica, which is (in the latter case) what I think your 3 others are for blooming last. I have grafted a malus baccata here in the heights on malus 'winter banana', which (the former) blooms way too early compared to the latter. I also have grafted a hybrid (baccata x 'domestica mix') cultivar 'palmetta' into same tree. This inter-specific mixing of low and high chill hours still mostly dominates from hardy malus ancestry because it also is very early compared to winter banana apple. Wild ancestry usually dominates anyways.

I had already removed my malus baccata. Gone now, but had I left it I might have been able to speed up some flowering and sent you some pollen in the mail maybe. And because malus baccata produces less than crabapple size fruit (pea size) we could have possibly solved this. This pea size fruit and big flower seems funny but true. 

It's also true about wild species being dominant, and in the works of Ivan Michurin this dominance in and of malus baccata was specifically noted.

I am making a special research trip to Alaska in the space of one day in the first week of March, but it's below freezing still which isn't of any help unless you need a malus baccata scion sent to you for next seasons crosses.

53 Posts
February 20, 2024 - 8:22 am

Blooming in February? Likely a crab, or Anna, Dorsett Gold, Shell of Alabama. Neither of my Dorsett Golds or Anna's have broken bud here in very Southern Georgia. But we might top 800 32-45 degree chill hours this year.  We were at 603 hours this weekend. The mean for the forecast sets at 765 hours.

770 Posts
February 20, 2024 - 1:18 pm

Like Dannytoro1, I was going to suggest that it may be a low-chill early bloomer like Anna or Dorsett Gold.  then with quirks of any particular winter there is variation in bloom time.

But on a multi-grafted tree, those bloom way earlier than the other varieties here.

3 Posts
February 20, 2024 - 3:53 pm

Thank yall for the replies!!! I bought this apple tree at a tractor supply store in 2015. The trunk was approximately 1 inch diameter and is now approximately 6 inches. It's kinda weird to see an apple tree in full bloom before the end of February without any foliage. The blooms do attract a lot of honeybees but, they must use my pollen for honey production as there is nothing else in bloom to pollinate. I'm at 420 ft elevation and we have had approximately 10 nights below freezing, (lowest being 19) all winter. I am located between 2 major creeks that feed the Savannah river and have evidence of prehistoric habitation. That tells me that I may live in some sort of temperate zone with a natural protection from severe elements, (just a guess). I emailed the Southern Heritage Apple Orchard at Horne Creek but haven't gotten a reply as of yet. Again, THANK YOU to everyone who has replied!!! Any and all info is greatly appreciated!!!

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