As discussed two posts ago, choosing fruit varieties for the Front Range is tough. Finding a variety that will emerge from dormancy at the right time after a warm-cold-warm-cold “roller coaster” winter, bloom at the right time to escape erratic spring frosts, and then mature fruit in our short growing season is challenging.
Apple choices also should be fire blight and to a lesser extent powdery mildew resistant. Most of the variety suggestions from knowledgeable people are not ones you see in grocery stores. They also may be challenging to locate.
Dr. Harold Larsen, CSU fruit researcher on the West Slope, suggests disease resistant cultivars Freedom, Jonafree, Liberty, Prima, Redfree, Pristine (summer apple), Goldrush and Enterprise (highly fire blight resistant) on M-26 or EMLA-26 rootstock. Consider Empire and Williams Pride on M-7A or EMLA-7A rootstock.
Scott Skogerboe, Fort Collins nurseryman, suggests Honeycrisp, Cortland, Harleson, Redstone Canyon Gold, Zestar, State Fair, Joyce and Duchess of Oldenburg.
Carol O’Meara, CSU Extension Agent in Boulder, lists Connell Red, Haralson, Honeygold, Keepsake, Prairie Spy, Regent, State Fair and Sweet Sixteen.
Apples usually need a pollinator although crabapples blooming at the same time can pollinate apples. Keep in mind that these suggestions are for an area with a climate that is less than desirable for growing fruit trees so moderate your expectations accordingly.
[Apple photo credit Carl Wilson]