Austin, TX apple orchard

New to this forum and thanks to many for the warm welcome. Speaking of warm, it’s been pushing 100 degrees for the past week or so here near Austin, with very little rain since May and warm nights to match. It’s not even August! Question of the day: can I even grow apples here? I think so, but will need some help.

As I mentioned in my brief bio, I’ve started small orchards several times across the country in mostly classic apple growing regions, but have relocated my family for work before enjoying the fruits of my labor each time. I’m a novice by every measure, though full of (blind) ambition for home grown apples. So, here I am near Austin considering starting again, whilst staring down serious summer weather and wondering whether this is even doable. Again, I think I can pull it off.

Our soils are thin and mostly caliche type limestone based soils. I have probably 12" of topsoil before hitting caliche. The caliche can be dug, removed and amended. I haven’t dug holes, but that’s likely. PH will range on the high side. We have lots of heat, some humidity, warm nights and cool winters. Our zone is 8B. I have irrigation.

Given that, I have researched warm weather apple varieties. Thanks to Kevin, he lists a bunch of exciting varieties at Kuffel Creek. I’ve contacted the nice people at Century Farm Orchards. David provided a list of nice recommendations. Most websites offer a list of warm season varieties which is great.

I’ve narrowed my go-to list to Rev Morgan, King David, GoldRush and Dixie Red Delight on M111 rootstalk. M111 may take awhile, but am hoping the rootstalk is more dependable given our climate. My wife tells me that this is our last relo :grimacing:, so there’s that. I’ve debated a bunch of other varieties including many of your recommendations: Fuji, Gala, Kidd’s, Tompkins, Golden Russet and Hudson’s GG. I could work a few more into my landscape pretty easily.

So what do y’all think (easier to type than say for this Yankee)? I’d love to receive your opinion and suggestions.


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What challenges should I expect? Thank you.

I’d say Cotton Root Rot would be my #1 worry. Increasing your organic matter and bringing down the pH would be a place to start, your local extension probably has a lot of info on it. Baxter Adams was able to beat it back over in Medina, so it can be done. You definitely have to punch down through the caliche.


Welcome. Sounds like you are well on your way. I would imagine 111 to be the best stock for your situation. Kevin and David are the right experts to look to. Lots of southerners are on this forum. I hope they’ll share their experiences with you.

Have you considered the Yates apple? That one might work for you.

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Yates and Red Rebel does well in our hot climate.

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I will post

Whoops! Itchy fingers. Ok as I was going to say I will post more on this later as I tried to grow apples in Austin a few years ago. I would at least consider trying some of the Geneva stocks. I didn’t fair well with m111 at least not from a production standpoint. I ll post more later after work.

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I did read on GW that a grower near Houston could not get the trees to live until they switched to the Geneva rootstock. There is a fair amount of difference between Houston and Austin but I would at least try Geneva and see if it worked for you better. Remember you are in peach and plum country. Pears are easy to grow if you get the fire blight resistant varieties. Texas A&M even came out with a satsuma that is suppose to survive there, I believe it is called Arctic Frost.

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Ok a little more info on my experience. I grew a few different varieites. I had Fuji, Mollies Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn and a few others I can’t recall off the top of my head. All were on M111 except Braeburn which was on m7. All of the trees on m111 never made a single good apple. Not one. I had all of them for several years I think Fuji and Mollies were 7 years in the ground when I moved. Fuji I think bloomed a whopping two flower clusters ever and Mollies didn’t do much more. Granny Smith bloomed super dooper late and very erratically presumably due to lack of chill and never set anything. Braeburn bloomed and fruited the second year after I planted it and I mean set a ton of apples for such a small tree only problem was it can’t handle Austin heat and the apples turn to absolute mush before they ripen. So all that being said I think you can grow them but I really think the Geneva stocks may be better. OK to be fair I’m sure I didn’t do a good enough job of training the m111 trees and bending down branches and what not so I’m sure that made a difference. However for me I prefer the advantages and easier work load of a more dwarfing stock. Just me. I knew a man who was having really good luck down there with Gala and he also had problems with Fuji. I also heard of success with Ginger Gold and I would bet Gold Rush would be good for you too. I’m going to do some reading because I remember reading once about a particular strain of Geneva stock that was doing very well in Texas and I’ll see if I can find that name for you. Anyway hope that helps at all.


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Super helpful, thank you. I had read M111 had more drought tolerance. Looks like I should rethink it. Thanks for a bit of research too. I’m anxious to learn what you discover.

Thanks everyone. Keep it coming if you think of anything. I am a little concerned by the rootstalk choice, though it’s drought tolerance seems attractive.

I no nothing of drought tolerance. My problem is too much wet…

But… I would guess that some of the bigger Geneva rootstocks would be more drought tolerant than the 50% of seedling and smaller dwarfing roots. G.890 and G.969 come to mind. They are supposed to be free-standing trees according to Cummins. So they should have a bigger root volume than the more dwarfing stocks.

The Honeycrisp studies I have seen suggest those two are just as productive as the smaller trees. (HC is a slow grower.) I have several varieties grafted to G.969 this year so don’t know too much about them yet.

I’m in Dallas, a world apart from Austin. I’m also new to apples.

You might Google “Austin rare fruit growers” and “Texas rare fruit growers”. They seem to be a pretty active group, I bet some of them are growing apples, you could see what works for them

Btw, in Dallas I really like Enterprise, Goldrush, and if I can keep the fireblight out Pristine. If you’re close to Cedar trees you’ll have to spray to grow Goldrush and Pristine due to Cedar Apple rust, but Enterprise seems bullet proof.

Ok was able to dig up more info on the reccomended Geneva stocks that apparently have been trialed a bit in Texas. The best are said to be G 65, 11, 16, 41, 935 and 202. I would also if I were you look into M7 it was doing great unfortunatley the scion just wasnt good. I read that 65 in particular looked promising. In Dallas I have Gold Rush and Pristine on g11 and love the rootstock. They do require full suport though. I use EMT pipe driven a few feet in the ground and plastic coated wire (like sprinkler system wire) to tie the trunks to the post. Let us know what you decide and how things start for you.

Dang my Pristine won’t bloom for me. I thought it was lack of chill but maybe something else is to blame. Three years ago it produced a large crop of perfect looking apples that were darn tasty too. Then nothing since no blooms at all the last two years which is particularly anoying as this is supposed to be my pollinator for my Goldrush tree that has bloomed like gangbusters the last few years but sets nothing because of lack of pollination. Don’t want to high jack this thread but I would love to hear more about how your pears are doing when you can Sir.

Last year, when we had rain for what seemed 1000 days, every Apple and pear tree got fireblight. I only lost 1 tree but I ended up cutting off all blooms.

This year I was worried about lack of chill, we almost had none; but ayers, keiffer, orient, moon glow, and all my Asian pears are setting a decent crop. At least they were, before I moved and started anew :(. I have some fruit trees at an office bldg I own, the Asian pears have what looks to be quince rust?, I’ll have to spray next year.

The Enterprise and Goldrush are on M7, they’re setting good crops thus year. The Pristine on M111 had a good crop on the branches I didn’t have to cut out.

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I’d seriously look into adding additional apple varieties. Either as stand alone trees or as grafts. Not sure about flowering windows but pristine and goldrush are on the opposite side of ripening. It’s always better to have multi pollination sources instead of being locked down to one variety. Also consider planting a crabapple. They are great pollinators and have long flowering times.

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I’m out of space in my tiny yard which is another reason I like the dwarf stocks but yes I do want to graft in more varieties this winter. I wish I had done that last year!

So, how is your orchard in 2019?

I’m just west of Fredericksburg, so I’m kind of curious.

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