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Pollinators for Apple Trees
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mrcmb99
Michigan
7 Posts
(Offline)
1
May 17, 2020 - 11:05 am

Hi,

 

I'm pretty new to the home orchard scene.  Last year, I planted three apple trees - Liberty, Arkansas Black, Honeycrisp.  Will these trees provide the proper pollination for each other?  I've looked at different websites and have found conflicting information about this.

 

Also, I'm thinking of adding a Pink Pearl next year (if I can find someplace local that will sell me one - I can't afford to ship them across the country).  Will this work with my current trees?

 

Thanks for all your help!

 

Best,

chris

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
2
May 17, 2020 - 8:31 pm

You don't want to use a triploid tree as your pollinator.  You want these varieties to overlap or be next to each other in the ABCD sequence.  I would check out the Orange Pipppin web site for that.

John S
PDX OR

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mrcmb99
Michigan
7 Posts
(Offline)
3
May 18, 2020 - 9:23 am

Thanks for helping!

 

What is a triploid tree (sorry I'm new to this) and what is the ABCD sequence?

 

Thanks!

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
4
May 21, 2020 - 9:54 pm

A triploid apple tree doesn't pollinate other apples. They tend to have larger leaves, flowers, and apples.  ABCD sequence is when they flower.

John S
PDX OR

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
(Offline)
5
May 22, 2020 - 9:15 pm

Hi mrcmb99,

You're asking kind of a tough question given that apple trees across the country are doing different things based on the local weather.  John's ABCD corresponds to the following, in terms of the flowering seasons of apple varieties within a particular local area; when that occurs will vary:

Early (A), Early Midseason (B), Late Midseason (C), and Late (D).

I have quite a few apple references which I consulted to try and answer your question, but each of the published references relates to a different area in the world, so I can't give any specific recommendation (sadly).  However, John S. is right in saying that Arkansas Black (one of my taste favorites) has sterile pollen and will not, therefore, pollinate itself or any other apples.  As near as I can tell, Liberty, Honeycrisp, and your potential future Pink Pearl acquisition are all diploids and will likely have fertile pollen at some level (--pollen fertility levels vary--).  

I don't know whether your neighbors have any apples (--perhaps even "just" crabapples--), but if there are diploid apples blooming in your neighborhood when your apples are in bloom then your apples should get pollinated and potentially produce fruit.

"Normal" apples are diploid, meaning that they have two pairs of chromosomes.  "Triploid" apples have 3 pairs of chromosomes and can't properly pollinate the others.  It gets a bit complicated, but, if you're interested in the details you could google various things that you're wondering about.  If you can find good, clear reference sites, you'll find that genetics is pretty fascinating stuff.  : )

Reinettes

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mrcmb99
Michigan
7 Posts
(Offline)
6
June 4, 2020 - 11:34 pm

Ok, so every time I think I get this, I get more confused.

 

I live in Southeastern Michigan (Half way between Detroit and Ann Arbor) if that helps.

Can a tree from Flowering Group 1 (early) be pollinated by a tree from Group 2, or does it have to be from another Group 1? 

Thanks for all your help!

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sweepbjames
NE Portland, OR Cully Neighborhood
212 Posts
(Offline)
7
June 5, 2020 - 1:22 am

Roughly:

          A flowering at the time, can pollinate A and B flowering time groups

          B flowering can pollinate flowers from groups A, B, and C

          C time of flowering can pollinate flowering of B, C and D 

          D flowering can pollinate C and D flowers

 

Triploid apples, pollen is sterile, they're not usually self-fertile so should have a flowering time-compatible, self-fertile (I read) variety for pollination; or two different other pollen providers, in due flowering time, to be able to set fruit (as well as to cross pollinate those two). The triploid does not contribute to the pollen needs of the 'cousins'.

As I read it.

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mrcmb99
Michigan
7 Posts
(Offline)
8
June 5, 2020 - 4:37 pm

Thanks!  That's helpful!

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
(Offline)
9
June 5, 2020 - 6:37 pm

Hi again mrcmb99,

Good comments from some of my fellow Forum members.  This may be totally irrelevant, but I lived in southeastern Michigan during my high school years (Walled Lake).  I remember that up my road and across the street, was an old, abandoned and undeveloped apple orchard.  I have no clue what variety of apples they were, but despite often being "worm"-riddled, I enjoyed eating some whether they were ripe or not.  I have no problem with a tart, unripe apple, but I just always disliked the summer apples that would almost immediately go mealy and mushy....  

I'm just glad that I've been exposed to later-maturing apples with exquisite combinations of flavors largely based upon their relative composition of acids to sugars.  Among apples alone, the range of flavors can be amazing.  Don't be afraid to taste a diversity of apple varieties before planting trees.  

...However, don't forget that once you have some established apple trees you can also graft onto them other varieties!  If you have a lack of space for more more than a few trees, the option of grafting other varieties onto the trees that you already have provides opportunities for more diversity.  Diversity is the spice of life!

Reinettes

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mrcmb99
Michigan
7 Posts
(Offline)
10
June 6, 2020 - 9:50 am

Thank you so much for all your help!

 

Small world – Walled Lake is about 20 minutes from me (I’m in Livonia)!

 

Sorry to overwhelm with questions, I just find it so hard to find good information out there.  I’ve read a ton of websites, but often they are written in a language I can’t understand (too highly technical), or the contradict other sites (I’ve found this to especially be the case with looking for pollination information).  I really appreciate having a group like this with dedicated people to help me learn (I can’t wait until I have figured out enough to help others)!  I think the scariest part is that it’s a 3-5 year process just to see if what I’m doing worked, so I wanna try to get it as right as possible the first time.  If I screw up with my garden (I do a heirloom tomatoes and a variety of hot peppers), I can try again the next year, but with apples, five years is a long time to wait)!

 

I love trying new things – that’s half of what got me into growing my own trees in the first place – I want to grow stuff I can’t easily get at the local orchard.  The Plymouth Orchard has amazing cider, but their variety of apples is somewhat limited.  The closest orchard to carries a large variety of unusual apples is Albers, and that’s over an hour drive from me (I usually go once every other week because they have free samples and I can try a little of each.  That, and they have Pink Pearl, which are my absolute favorite apple).

 

So I know for sure I wanna add a Pink Pearl to my yard next year, but I think my biggest fear is that I need something that tastes good but will also pollinate the tree – they won’t do me any good if I can’t get any apples out of the trees.  Unfortunately, as you have already figured out, I’m extremely limited on space.  Right now I’ve got the three tress in my front yard, and by my estimation, I’ve got room for two more (one will be a Pink Pearl), so yeah, I gotta make sure my final tree will help pollinate it. https://sites.google.com/view/.....mb99/trees

 

You have my attention with this grafting thing – if I could grow multiple varieties on the same tree, that would be great!  So how long does it take before a tree is “mature,” and how do I do this?  I’m very curious!

 

Thanks for all your help – I really appreciate it!  If you’re ever in Michigan, I owe you a few beers (or ciders if you prefer – I know I prefer cider)!

 

Best,

Chris

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
11
June 6, 2020 - 9:53 pm

mrcmb99-Don't get too worried about making mistakes.  It's like if you strike out in baseball, the next time you might get a hit, and you learn stuff from your experiences.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process.

John S
PDX OR

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buzzoff
84 Posts
(Offline)
12
September 18, 2020 - 12:07 am

The need for pollen is sometimes difficult to assess.  How remote is your abode?  In urban areas, or even small towns, there are often Multiple un-suspected pollen sources.  If there are any apples trees within a hundred yards or so, most likely you are covered.  

In my case, my trees have always produced plenty of apples, even though it turns out, one of my trees probably produces only sterile pollen.  I am surrounded by pollen from urban apples.  I don't even know where all of them are.  

This I do know; one hundred yards East, there is a large Golden Delicious tree.  One hundred yards West, is a very large Dolgo Crabapple planted on the street.  Next street over,  some kind of a Red Apple, right on the street.  Turns out, I am surrounded by viable pollen.  The Golden is one of the best pollinators.  Crab Apples also do a good job.  Throw in, all of the trees I don't know about, and a shortage of pollen is never a problem.

If you are really concerned, get a Golden Delicious.  It is one of the best pollinators, and it produces one of the finest apples.  When you allow them to ripen on the tree, they are impossibly delicious.  Produces multiple sets of flowers, and bumper crops of apples.

Some folks call it the "Rooster Tree".

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
13
September 20, 2020 - 11:36 am

Other great pollinators: Grimes Golden and Winter Banana.  Of those  three, my favorite for flavor is Grimes Golden.

Also remember, back east is different than PNW.  We're more like England in the spring: long, slow walk into a very cool, rainy spring for a long time.  Our spring is said to last from February through June.  Some trees, like peaches, apricots, and nectarines, hate that.

Back east, it's super cold, spring hits hard for a little more than a week, then it's hot summer, for a long time.

Because pollination/spring happens all in a more dense period of time, making sure of your A B C D is less crucial than it is here.  You can get away with less precision on your pollination timing, since it is much more likely to happen all at the same time.

John S
PDX OR

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