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Apples in the far north!

 
Byron Gagne
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Last year we planted 4 apple trees in our greenhouse. Not really directly in our greenhous but in crates I built from wood I had milled. At the moment i can't find the exact variety they or but will add once I find my notes. A fellow up in Dawson city Yukon Canada has been high breeding these apples to be high producers like our southern neighbors but can with the vigorous winters we get here. Including -50c. No joke the work he has been doing is amazing some you may be interested in and here's his website.
http://www.klondikevalley.com/Klondike_Valley_Nursery/Yukon_Apples.html
With this info out of the way and hope you still got your attention I'll show you my set up it got on my homestead trying to grown apples in the Yukon Canada.

1st pic as per johns recommendation we built boxes and filled with lots of compose and beautiful dirt to start out apples

2nd pic we planted 4 trees this way hopefully we can get lots of pollination between them encouraging a ton of apples to grow😀

What we were told is the apples can handle extreme lows as long as there put away and kept frozen during the winter. So I moved the trees outside after they loose there leafs and wrapped them up to protect from deer and mice.

This spring I pulled out the young trees placed them back into the greenhouse and within a month there already starting to flower even though the rest of our garden and greenhouse hasn't even been completely planted yet. Note picture three!

I will keep everyone posted on my progress please chim in with Any recommendations or ideas to help me along. Check out Johns website he's doing a lot of good for the north!
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Boxes layered up with apple trees ice cream
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Last seasons trees happy in there new home
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My best flowered out tree
 
Byron Gagne
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Thanks Dale great info!

The only problem is I'm not in Russia lol
 
Tyler Miller
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Thanks for the link! Is most of his information found by searching for his name in the "Featured In" links? There doesn't seem to be too much on his website.

Are you going to be moving the trees into the greenhouse for the summer and back out again for the winter every year, or eventually are they going to be outside permanently? I know there are a few people here in Alaska growing apple trees in high tunnels.

Byron Gagne wrote:What we were told is the apples can handle extreme lows as long as there put away and kept frozen during the winter

I’ve also heard this. If you pick the right variety of apple it can supposedly survive crazy cold temperatures, but extreme temperature fluctuations and coming out of dormancy too early can still kill them. (At least from what I’ve read, I don’t have much personal experience.)

I’ll definitely be following this thread! Here are a couple websites you might find useful:

Steve Masterman from Fairbanks, Alaska has a really good website on apple varieties in the far north. He has good descriptions for them, and pictures of most of the varieties he lists.
Alaska Fruit Trees

The Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association is another good source of information. Under the "Resources" menu there are PDF copies of their past newsletters and a spreadsheet of information on a large variety of apple cultivars people have tried in Alaska.
Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers Association



I've been doing a little experimenting with apples for the last few years. I'm in Southcentral Alaska, USDA hardiness zone 3a. We have roughly a three month growing season that tends to be cool and rainy. Our winters are usually relatively mild with good snow cover.

I don’t really know what I’m doing or talking about, but here’s been my experience so far:

Three years ago I planted six types of apples from seed.
Siberian Crabapple (Malus baccata): Supposed to be the toughest rootstock, although apparently some cultivars don't graft well to it.
Manchurian Crabapple (Malus baccata var. Mandchuria): Don't know much about it, I'm guessing it is more or less like Siberian crabapple.
Ranetka Crabapple (Malus ranetka): Not as hardy as Siberian crab, but also not supposed to be as picky about which cultivars can be grafted to it.
Antonovka Apple (Malus pumila var. Antonovka): Used as a rootstock many places, but from reading through the APFGA archives it sounds like it often gets killed during especially cold winters. Supposed to be relatively true to parent, but from what I gather the fruit doesn't ripen early enough up here.
Borowinka Apple (Malus pumila var. Borowinka): My understanding is that these are the seeds from Duchess of Oldenberg, and are relatively true to parent. They are also often used as cold hardy rootstock. I have no idea how well they'll do in Alaska.
Common Apple (Malus pumila): I don't know anything about this one. I wonder is 'common apple' is just code for some unidentified apple that sprung up somewhere?

The crabapples are all doing much better than the three 'Malus pumila' apples. I'm guessing it's because they are more cold hardy and more vigorous. The crabapples also got slightly more watering and weeding, so that could be a factor. By 'slightly more' I mean that the crabapples were watered and weeded about once a year, while the 'Malus pumila" apples have been entirely neglected.

I think all of the apples are short for their age, but I only have bare root plants from more southern nurseries to compare them to. My understanding is that apples are usually in the 1.5-2.5' range after two years, and it's not unusual for them to reach that in a single year. The stems on my apple trees look somewhat thicker than what I've seen on bare root plants from more southern states. I'm telling myself that I'm growing trees that are short but tough, but they might just be stunted from my neglect and abuse.

Right now my plan is to graft to the crabapples, and to plant the 'Malus pumila' apples here and there out in our Zone 4.

I took a grafting class from Steve Masterman last year and also purchased a few apples from him. These are the varieties that I had last year:
Kerr
Alma Sweet
Trailman
Prairie Sun
Parkland
Heyer 20
Redstar
Norkent
Dawn

All of them that made it through the summer seem to have made it through the winter. I lost a few last summer due to the grafted section being broken off during transport or when our silly mutts ran over them. The other annoying thing that happened was that the tags went missing off of several of them. Birds love bright things, and are always stealing my tags. They even managed to somehow get one of the twisted-wire metal tags off! Anyway, I now have several mystery apples.

This year I'm doubling down on a few varieties and grafting them to my Siberian and Manchurian crabapple rootstock. It might be stupid to double-down on them, as I haven't actually tasted them. Also, while I know they survive and produce in Fairbanks I don't know how well they'll do in my part of Alaska.

These are the four kinds I’m grafting a bunch more of:
Trailman: A very early apple that is supposed to actually be pretty good tasting. Most early apples have a reputation for not tasting very good.
Prairie Sun: Supposed to reliably bear heavily and annually.
Kerr: This is supposed to be a good storage apple. Apples that store well in our short season are rare. I’m really hoping this one works out as it would extend my apple-eating season from about 4-5 months to maybe 7-8 months.
Alma Sweet: This one is supposed to be too sweet for fresh eating, but really good for making sauce and apple butter.

I’m grafting a few varieties that I’m not sure about as an experiment. These are going onto Ranetka rootstock.
Centennial
Mantet
Red Baron
Fameuse/Snow
Crimson Beauty

I tried doing a cleft graft to the branch of a mature crabapple, but it doesn't look like it took.

Next year I’m considering these varieties:
Heyer 12 and Heyer 20: I’m hesitant to plant these, as they’re not supposed to be the best tasting apples. However, they have a reputation for being the toughest and most reliable apples. I’m considering planting a bunch as “backup plan” apples so that a crazy bad year that kills everything else off hopefully wouldn’t set me back to zero. They could be good pig food in the meantime. They’re also a little earlier than most of the other cultivars I’ve listed, so that would make them less of a burden. I’ve also heard they aren’t bad dried.

Dolgo crabapple: A cider company sent me a list of good cider apples they thought would survive in Alaska, and Dolgo was on the list. They’re supposed to be relatively true to parent, so I think I’m going to try to plant a bunch from seed next year. I figure I can sell them as ornamentals as well.

 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Tyler Miller wrote:Common Apple (Malus pumila): I don't know anything about this one. I wonder is 'common apple' is just code for some unidentified apple that sprung up somewhere?

Common Apple is code for your typical apple with a massively diverse swath of genetic potential that does not 'come relatively true to type.' Obviously it's more slanted towards the traits of whatever its parents were, but it hasn't been bred over and over again for generations in controlled conditions to produce something like an Antanovka.
 
Byron Gagne
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Great info Tyler thanks!

I'm going to keep them shaped so I can move the trees in and out every year. I think this is best for the north and I will get the best production. I designed the greenhouse for this. I can get my skid steer in the door and pick up each tree to bring in or outside.
 
Tyler Miller
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Byron Gagne wrote:

I'm going to keep them shaped so I can move the trees in and out every year. I think this is best for the north and I will get the best production. I designed the greenhouse for this. I can get my skid steer in the door and pick up each tree to bring in or outside.

That seems like a good way to get reliable production.

I grafted a bunch of the trees over the last two weekends.

I'm keeping them in the pots just long enough to see if the graft will start to grow. I finally have a few places lined out where I can keep trees long-term.

Here's the cleft graft I tried that didn't take.


The bubble wrap was a half-baked idea to give the graft a little protection in case it froze hard. We've had a crazy early spring, and and the tree started leafing out about a month and a half early. I was worried that the weather might turn around. I think I might have let the scionwood get too dry.
 
Byron Gagne
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I need to craft my trees! That's the beuty of buying four. Then craft the rest of the trees.

I would like to have 5 or six that we do in the greenhouse then start a few outside in shelter.

I thought possibly using The under ground greenhouse and start a few in there. I could cover the roof during the non growing season and leave them in there permanently.

Of course these or all ideas subject to change without notice.

Good job on the crafting Tyler!

It's not even then end of May. Typically we don't even put in the outside garden till know and we got Apple production. Not bad for being just shy of the arctic circle.

We had a early spring also. About a month ahead put still getting frosts. We moved a couple pumpkins outside and the frost got them. The only thing that didn't work this year so for.
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Apple production!
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Apple production!!
 
steve bossie
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Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
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im in zone 3b here in n. maine. the most successful apple tree up here is the russian variety yellow transparent. its a old cultivar that fruits very early and is cold hardy to -45f, which we hit occasionally up here. these apples have naturalized themselves up here and are found growing wild in old farmland. there are a  large white apple thats very tart till ripe. makes the best sauce and pies. its a soft apple that dosent keep long but is very easy to process. i love this apple better than cortland and macintosh for flavor. lodi is a new cultivar of the yellow transparent that is more readily available today. its more disease resistant but still the same cold hardiness and flavor of the yellow transparent. these are very fast growing, vigorous  trees! i planted a 5ft. lodi this spring and i got 5 apples on it already! I've had seedlings grow 5-7ft in one summer then flower and fruit the next!  check them out ! they may even survive outside for you with a little TLC ! good luck!
 
Tyler Miller
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That cleft graft that I thought didn't take? I checked the other day and one of the pieces of scionwood had quite a bit of growth!


I didn't do any more bench grafting after the first 33 that I did in my previous post. Unfortunately that means that I didn't graft any of the experimental varieties.

Of the 33 that I grafted 20 survived. I'm happy with that, considering I did a rush job on them.


I originally intended to only leave them in the pots long enough for the scion to show signs of life, but time got away from me. They've been in the little pots too long, and really need to be transplanted into bigger pots or into the ground. The other problem is that the summer is almost over, and I don't want to trigger new growth this late in the year. I figure I'll transplant some into bigger pots, some into the ground and some I'll just leave in their current pots until after they go dormant. I've got more than I really need, so I can afford to experiment.
 
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