Advice on choosing tree varieties

Fruit growing is a long term undertaking. Fruit trees, carefully chosen and suited to the climatic conditions of the area, may live and produce good fruit for the next 50 to 70 years.

We no longer sell young fruit trees, but we think that it could be useful to make some preliminary comments on how to choose fruit trees that crop regularly and produce fruit of good flavour. There are different requirements to take into consideration to achieve early and regular cropping:

1) Weather
2) Site
3) Soil
4) Pollination needs
5) Variety characteristics
6) Disease resistance
7) Rootstock

There are no apple varieties which can tick all the boxes. Knowledge of the weather patterns in the various areas of the UK is therefore essential, in order to plant the right varieties. However there are varieties which I would give a treble A rating. Groups of three varieties are best, as several varieties need good cross pollination. Some self-fertile varieties will perform without pollination, but all are improved by proper pollination. The ones I am going to single out all have fruits of excellent eating or cooking qualities. Secondly, these varieties also excel in producing fruits of long keeping quality.
However the right combination of these varieties needs to be made, according to the site and soil available in the different counties. Having said all this, I would put the following varieties at the top of my list. Anyone considering planting some apples should include at least two of these varieties, suitable to the area where you live.

Dessert apples:
Claygate Pearmain
Lord Lambourne
Egremont Russet

Cooking apples:
Annie Elisabeth
Lane Prince Albert
Bramley’s Seedling
Lord Derby

Dual purpose apples:
James Grieve
Blenheim Orange

Planting time:

It is a fact that the number of people visiting our website increases dramatically in the spring when people get out into the garden again, but the simple fact is that fruit trees are much more successful if planted in February up until early April when they are fully dormant.

In addition, geographical factors also affect the choice of trees. For example, in the northern counties, climatic conditions are substantially different compared with East Anglia. The average temperatures during the growing season are 2 to 3 degrees lower. This results in a shorter period in which the fruit has to mature and develop its full flavour. The same applies to the West Country; here the rainfall is substantially greater compared with the east of the country. Some well known varieties of apple trees are not suitable for high rainfall areas. Other apple tree varieties are very suitable and excel. As part of a consulting service, we can provide informatin on which varieties will do well, when planted in a particular location.

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