The golden delicious apple is one of several varieties of yellow apples grown in the United States. Suited for fresh use, slicing or freezing, the golden delicious makes a good general purpose tree for many backyard growers as well as commercial orchard growers. The golden delicious is hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 4, making it hardy to all but the most northern parts of the United States. For pollination, gardeners should also plant near the golden delicious a second apple tree from a variety that blooms at the same time.
The fruit is what makes the golden delicious stand out from other apples. The apple matures to a medium sized fruit late in the fall about 135 days after blooming. The fruit is considered sweet and keeps, with proper storage, through the winter in most cases. The apples are a green color while immature and turn yellow as they ripen.
Golden delicious apples are available in a variety of sizes depending on the root stock used in the grafting. Dwarf varieties commonly mature at less than 10 feet, while the standard trees often grow to about 25 feet in height. The semi-dwarf trees mature at about 15 feet tall. Home gardeners often choose the smaller varieties that require less space.
Prune the tree while it is dormant over the winter to improve the vigor of the plant. Select a single shoot to serve as a leader and trim other branches back. Cut back other undesired branches to four or five branches that form a scaffold or ladder of branches up the side of the main trunk. During the spring, thin the fruit to about one apple every 6 inches. This limits the weight on the branch, preventing breakage and allows the apples to mature to a larger size.
Apple trees commonly require up to seven years to mature to a point where they bear fruit. Dwarf or semi-dwarf varieties may bear fruit earlier, depending on the root stock. The nursery grown stock purchased by a homeowner may already be two years old, which also shortens the time until the tree bears fruit.
- Ohio State University; Apples, A Guide to Selection and Use; Richard Funt
- North Carolina State University; Growing Apple Trees in the Home Garden; Michael Parker; 1995
- University of Minnesota Extension; Apples for Minnesota and Their Culinary Uses; Emily Hoover et al; 2000
- New Mexico State University: Fruit Trees for the Home Orchard
- Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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