Growing Apples in Florida, Dorsett, Anna and Tropic Sweet

We’re a family of apple eaters. Of all the fruit, apples are probably my favorite, simply because you can do the most with them. Nothing better than biting into a nice crisp sweet apple..

My wife buys several pounds a week, I eat one every day, so do the girls. Organic apples aren’t cheap and buying them from the supermarket can be hit or miss, one batch is good, the next is mealy and flavorless.

So I started my journey to grow apples in Florida. Like everything else, I jumped right in without doing much research, and last year around June, bought a couple of trees from the local Ace nursery, remember you need two for cross pollination, otherwise you won’t get fruit. One was a Dorsett Golden and the other was an Anna Apple in 3 gallon containers. Jacksonville is in the 9A hardiness zone, so from a climate standpoint they should work. It’s just that you don’t hear about a lot of people in Florida growing apples. At least I don’t.

Dorsett Golden apple is a beautiful, sweet, pale yellow apple slightly blushed with pink. Originally found growing in the Bahamas, this variety was brought to Florida and found to be an excellent pollinator for the ANNA apple. Like Jonathan in texture and flavor. Fruit ripens mid June-mid July. Use ANNA or TROPIC SWEET for cross pollination. 100-200 chill hours. Zones 8B-10.

Anna apple is a very large, beautiful red-blushed apple that is shaped just like a Red Delicious and tastes like ‘Gala’. We call this our “Fire Cracker” apple because it’s always ripe by the Fourth of July. The flesh is so firm and juicy it actually crackles when you bite into it. Fruit ripens late June-early July. Use DORSETT GOLDEN, JOY’S APPLE or TROPIC SWEET for cross pollination. 250 chill hours. Zones 8B-9B.

Tropic Sweet apple is a University of Florida patented release. Low chill variety that requires some heat units to bloom in the spring, that helps it to hold it’s dormancy and not be caught by late spring frosts.  Super sweet, low-acid fruit. Taste is very similar to a ‘Gala’ with a crunchy texture. Light green, with a light rosy red blush. Excellent production. Fruit ripens late June-July. Use ANNA or DORSETT GOLDEN for pollination. 250 chill hours. Zones 8B-9B.

(Descriptions from Just Fruits and Exotics)

Not knowing what I was doing, I selected what I thought would be the best location, dug a couple of good size holes and planted them sometime around late June. It’s also a good idea to use a root stimulator. I use Fertilome 4-10-3 which is a liquid. It helps with the transplant shock that normally occurs when put a new tree, shrub, or anything else for that matter into the ground.

New trees need plenty of water especially when it’s hot and if you go for any period without rain, that can spell trouble. We were going on vacation to Colorado towards the end of July 2014. The trees had been in the ground for about 5 weeks when we left. I gave them a good soaking and the irrigation comes on twice a week, so I figured that would be enough. There was no way I could have guessed that the 7 days we were gone would turn out to be the hottest and driest of the summer. When we got back the Anna had pretty much dropped all of it’s leave. The Dorsett wasn’t much better. Over the successive weeks and months I tried to nurse the trees back. Giving them a thorough soaking twice a week. The Dorsett pulled through and is doing great, the Anna didn’t make it.

Here is a picture of the Dorsett. Very healthy and lots of new growth. Take a look at the second picture. Yes, that’s an actual apple. Saw it last night when I went out to do some watering. So, you can grow apples in Florida. Stay tuned, I’ll post up some pictures of the Tropic Sweet that I planted in place of the Anna. It went into the ground over the winter, and is doing great as well.

20150315_092453
Dorsett Golden Apple Tree
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First apple on the Dorsett

Florida Hardiness Zones

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