I’ve read the thread “Apple varieties that are quick to bear fruit,” but I haven’t seen a similar listing of apple varieties that are slow to bear. (What word means the opposite of “precocious”?) At my age, I’m reluctant to add them, as I am not interested in finding the true meaning in life in the way Rabindranath Tagore suggested – by planting a tree under whose shade I do not expect to sit.
I know rootstocks are a major contributing factor. Northern Spy is notoriously slow, but on B9, ours first fruited in its fourth year. A Red Gravenstein on M7 took nine years, but a Gravenstein on M111 fruited in its second year.
Here have been the slowest to start bearing in our orchard, taking between six and nine years:
Westfield Seek No Further
Rhode Island Greening
Other slow maturing varieties I have read or heard about (and would like to see confirmation or negation) are:
I’ve heard Northern Spy takes a long time. Although I don’t have a NS, I do have a Novaspy, which is supposed to be a quicker bearing, disease resistant offspring of NS. I have a 4th leaf tree on G16 that is pretty big, but I haven’t seen any blooms on it this year.
I have one that I bought from Lowe’s three years ago, and is over 12ft tall now with about a two inch thick trunk. Last year I pulled down a bunch of branches to help induce it to bloom, and I haven’t seen any yet, although it doesn’t seem like it’s completely awake yet.
I have much smaller apple trees with worse branch angles, and they’re blooming. Go figure.
A Boskoop graft on my apple Frenkentree (on M7 rootstock) fruited in its second year. However, I find almost everything is very precocious in my climate; I spend a lot of time removing blooms from second-year grafts and trees, trying to prevent them runting out. Some grafts even try to fruit in their first year. Last year, a fresh Kandil Sinap graft snuck on me and produced an apple.
For me Honeycrisp on M7 was slow to come into bearing. I grafted a kidd’s orange at least 8 years ago and it finally bore one apple last year.
Over the weekend I left 2 branches on the Kidd’s orange and cleft grafted the rest of the tree over to Spartan and King David as tired of the tree having no fruit. If all goes well it will now be a 3 N 1 tree.
I thought that Northern Spy was used to test for how much a rootstock could induce early bearing. (Maybe in some of the early Geneva rootstock patents?)
M.7 is not a yield efficient (it grows more wood than fruit) nor precocious rootstock by any means. I had several trees on M.7 in my old yard and only Zestar had born fruit or flowered in the 5 years I observed them. If you dig through the literature for the Geneva series rootstocks, some of the early trials included M.7 and it consistently rates as low yield efficiency. Which also means it is late to bear because those trials are usually only done over a limited time frame (3+ years). M.7 was also the only one of my rootstocks to sucker (also born out by the data).
Consequently, I replanted zero of my new trees on M.7.
My winesap fruited in year 2! Not sure which Winesap it is, and to be fair it was a very large potted tree from a big box store that was likely 2-3 years old when I planted it. And btw, I love it! Its a sweet, good tasting apple to me.
Honeycrisp has been incredibly slow for me. Mine is 6 years old and this is the first year it has set more than 3-5 apples- though it seems quite full this year. From what I read Honeycrisp is famous for being slow to fruit.
My Gala has also been a slow fruiter for me- though I don’t know if that is common for them or not. Arkansas Black has been pretty slow also (year 4 just had 3 apples, year 5 looks good though)
Liberty was another super fast one for me. Just like Winesap, I got 2-3 apples its second year in the ground, though once again it was a very large potted tree when planted. I concede there are issues with big box trees, but getting fruit in 2 years is a big advantage as well.
Red Rome produced in 3 years and gave a BIG crop in 4 years and ever since. It’s my most dependable, lowest maintenance apple tree. Even CAR doesn’t show on it, while other apples mere feet away get hit HARD.
Almost any variety in SoCal, even the low-chill varieties. I’ve gotten a fruit or two off my Gala after 3-4 years and my HC put out one bloom last year, again after 3-4 years. I did get about 6-8 apples off the Pixie Crunch, so I’m hoping to get more off this one this year.
For once it looks like the Gala and Pixie Crunch will bloom at the same time. IMO, the erratic blooming, possibily caused by our warm winters, contributes to the low fruit output. I’ll still stick with the trees as I’ve seen some much bigger, mature trees that actually put out a good bit of fruit.