Early apples – how many trees do I need in my backyard orchard?

I’m trying to figure out number of early apple trees for my backyard orchard. Overall my family prefers peaches during summer, but some early apples are always nice. I personally prefer fall apples because of taste and storage.

So far I have Williams’ Pride Apple on B.118 and Yellow Transparent on unknown semi dwarf rootstock (both are 2nd leaf).

I do not really care about Yellow Transparent much as a separate tree, so I will probably re-graft it at some point.

I’d like to get Pristine as well.

I’m considering the following options:

  1. Have two early trees - get Pristine on half-standard G.890, put Yellow Transparent on it.
  2. Have two early trees – add Pristine to Yellow Transparent tree.
  3. Have one early tree – add Pristine, Yellow Transparent to Williams’ Pride Apple on B.118.

What’s my best bet here? Your feedbacks are much appreciated!

[EDIT] Family size is four people.

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If you have squirrels you will need several thousand trees.


Squirrels problem is taken care of. Knocking on wood.


Anna, Dorsett Gold, Tropic Sweet, Tropical Beauty all make tasty apples early. But do not keep long. They all work well if you can process them in canning/drying.


I got a bucket of Red Astachan early apples from a neighbour not far from me this summer. I was very impressed for an early apple. It made the best apple sauce I’ve ever had, and was quite nice for fresh eating. Of course like most early apples it doesn’t store well. I promptly did a few chip bud grafts to propagate it as I was quite impressed by it.

Their trees were likely 100 years old and were very productive. Red Astrachan is an heritage apple that originated in Russia, so I would think it is pretty cold hardy for those in colder regions. I found this an excellent quality apple compared to most other early varieties I’ve tried (also not a fan of yellow transparent).


Unless you have a large family, I would think one multi-graft tree would do, unless you like to have a back-up in case it dies.


State Fair is a nice early apple, keeps better than many earlies, is good fresh and in pies. Never tried it in sauce.


I agree! State Fair is great for desserts especially, though I have no other early apple to compare it to.


Graft the YT over to Pristine. Pristine is a super easy apple to grow and taste pretty good.


Aside from dying I think the only reason for a moderate-sized family, say four people, to have more than one semi-dwarf would be for variety. There’s always going to be one more variety you decide you have to have, and there’s just not enough room on one tree for all of them!


Maiden Blush gave me its debut apples this last year. Tart as Transparent, nicer eaten in hand in just 9 days developing apple flavor & some sugar, can keep 8 or 9 weeks as opposed to as many hours. MB is ripe about 3 weeks later here. MB is not triploid, while Transparent is.
I grew up picking Transparent every year & helping make sauce in the hottest days of summer. Did it again this year now that a relative has a huge tree of it.
By all accounts Pristine is a winner, with a flavor profile somewhere between William’s Pride & the übertart Transparent.
I’d say your second option is best.


WP is ok,
but I wouldn’t recommend YT, also not a YT fan, it,s foamy, short ripening window in good conditions , fungal diseases …
You should take in consideration to replace by other one and taking also in consideration pollination topic if you only will have 2 varieties.


Thanks for your response, I have other apple trees, so pollination is not the issue.


Did not like pristine, too floral to me. I would try Zeestar. Good crunch. Holds on the tree pretty well. I like the flavour.

Don’t forget you can multigraft your trees. Why have 200+ apples of a variety that might keep a month? Instead get 12-50 of multiple different varieties. If you are doing this just make sure you primary variety (trunk that will seen of scaffolds) is both vigorous and ideally multi-disease resistant, especially to fireblight. Don’t want an infected graft to kill your whole tree.


Ill throw in my 2 cents as far as variety goes: Dayton is a large sweet crisp red apple that ripens around williams pride. It has thinner skin, and is less complex. It also ripens quickly after it turns red which helps with bird damage. We dry alot of our pristine crop and it gets eaten pretty quick in that form.


Zero :blush:. As long as I have quality nectarines, peaches and plums, I will never crave apples.


Lodi, or whatever they call them now.

They are the best

Vic Gibson

I'm sorry, I'm a little late to this thread, but maybe my input might help someone. This is my own experience/opinion with early apples in south/central Ontario Canada (Canada zone 5a, which I believe is the same as zone 4b USDA):

I have a four year old Williams Pride on B118 and it’s already producing as many early apples as my family can use. In a few more years, I’m sure I’ll be swimming in Williams Pride apples but that’s OK (for me) because I raise geese. The early apple varieties start producing around the time that grass slows down in midsummer. Early apples make up for the pasture shortage, so a B118 Williams works for me. But it might (or might not) be too much for you, eventually.

I grow Vista Bella, Sweet Bough, Pristine, Duchess, Williams, Jeffries (spelling?) & Golden Sweet, for early apples. They ripen in that order with some overlap & a bit of variation. (I don’t grow Yellow Transparent & Lodi anymore.) Out of this whole bunch, Vista Bella & Williams are probably the only ones I actually “need” to grow because Vista Bella & Williams cover the early apple season with (true) dual purpose apples. (I don’t consider YT a true dual purpose & Pristine, although imo it is a true dual purpose apple, it doesn’t start until Vista Bella finishes.)

Vista Bella seems to be getting rare & I don’t hear people talking about it much, anymore, which is a shame. It’s susceptibile to scab, but it’s still a “must have” apple (for me) because it’s still my earliest “good” apple. It ripens with or within a few days of Yellow transparent but it’s already sweeter & less tart than YT, even before it’s fully ripe. Also, even though it’s a relatively soft apple, Vista Bella’s slices actually stay intact in apple pie, unlike Yellow Transparent,which turns into fluff.

For anyone has the right conditions for Vista Bella, I highly recommend growing at least a branch of it. Mine gets scab, but as long as the leaves & fruit get raked up (or eaten by geese, in my case) there’s always enough clean apples for a couple of weeks of extra-early munching and an excellent,very early pie.

(I stopped growing Yellow Transparent & Lodi because they got killed by repeated, severe fireblight. Vista Bella has had the occasional strike but it has never lost an entire crop or an entire tree to fireblight or any other disease.)


Thanks for your response, it’s very informative!

Pristine has floral qualities to its flavor profile? Now I gotta try it somewhere. (Funny how some folks like floral qualities in apples while others like fennel in them. I am not in the latter camp.)

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