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Malus x domestica, Low Chill Apple

Malus x domestica

Low Chill Apple
Family: Rosaceae
Small tree 10-20 ftFull sunRegular waterPink flowersWhite/off-white flowersFragrantDeciduousEdibleSubtropical, cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

Low chill apples bear as far south as South Florida, and may be a unique addition to your yard. Attractive white apple blossoms will appear during Feb-March and give way to fruit (smaller than standard apples) in June. They remain a small tree, growing to about 15 feet. Apples prefer slightly acidic and well-drained soils and perform best in full sun. The trees will need a complete fertilizer with micronutrients and may need to be defoliated by hand in the fall. Prune trees lightly in late winter to promote new growth. Because flowering, fruit development and spring vegetative growth all occur during some of Florida's hottest and driest months (April - June), irrigation is critical for succeeding with apples. To conserve moisture, mulching is highly recommended as long as mulch is not in contact with the trunk. Low chill apples are productive in Florida, but susceptible to anthracnose, fire blight, and root fungus. Apples require cross-pollination with two different cultivars to ensure decent production. The low chill varieties listed below require 50 - 150 chill hours for strong flowering and vigorous growth. Chill units are the number of hours the temperature stays between 32-55 F. Most effective chilling occurs with continuing temperatures below 45F.

"Anna" has red skin and is the most widely planted apple cultivar in Florida. The fruit resembles that of "Red Delicious" more than other low-chill apple cultivars. Originally from Israel, this large apple can be eaten green similar to "Granny Smith", or can be allowed to ripen to desired sweetness.

"Dorsett Golden" looks like "Golden Delicious" with golden skin and sometimes a red blush. This cultivar was discovered in the Bahamas and is crisp and juicy with excellent flavor.

"Tropic Sweet" is a newly patented variety from the University of Florida. This low acid, very sweet apple has green skin with a red blush, and flavor similar to the "Gala" apple.

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