Apples From Seeds FAQ
In a message dated 10/6/00 2:55:16 PM Eastern Daylight
Time, <name withheld> writes:
<< can anyone tell me about planting apple seeds? I saved seeds from especially
good apples this year, that were growing nearby. Do I need to chill the
seeds, or do anything before planting them? Should I pot them this year, or
wait till spring? If I should wait, how should I store the seeds till then? >>
Before going on with this, I want you to first ask you to make a choice:
1. Do I want to spend many years of my life looking for that "needle in a haystack," trying to develop new and worthwhile apple varieties? OR
2. Do I want to do something educational for the kids, but don't care about the end results (in terms of fruit) OR
3. Do I want to raise fruit in my backyard? Your saving from "especially good apples" makes me think that this is your real desire.
If your answer is 1: Plan on planting large quantities of seeds (and having the place to grow them). Apples that are grown from seed bear little resemblance to the parent (the fruit that you ate), they are crossed between varieties and the tendency is for them to revert to apple types that are not so good for our purposes. Consider that the "daddy" for your apple may well be a crab apple, as these are widely planted in orchards for pollenizers. Chances are that your apple, after all the years and the work of growing it will be only suitable for food for wildlife, or maybe to add to the mix for cider to give it some zing. You may get one in a thousand seedlings that is a really good apple, and one in a million that is worth propagating as a new variety. If you are interested in developing new apple varieties, then consider joining the North American Fruit Explorers.
If your answer is 2: Chill your apple seeds for at least six weeks in a baggie of damp peat in the fridge. Then plant them on a sunny windowsill, in paper cups for the kids to watch, or outside in the spring. Throw them away when done.
If your answer is 3: Buy good nursery stock on dwarf or semidwarf stock from a good nursery like Cummins Nursery. It is well worth the investment.
If you grow from seeds, you will wait 6-10 years to get a serious crop of apples that you may well find to be worthless. If you grow from good stock, properly cared for and pollinated, you should have a decent crop of quality apples in three to four years. I have planted apples on full dwarf stock and had a few apples the year I planted them. Cummins Nursery will also help you come up with compatible pollenizer pairs (never plant lone apple trees, unless you have lots of blooming crab apples in the neighborhood).
Seedlings and grafts on seedlings have a major disadvantage of being huge trees. Consider yourself at age 60 or 70 trying to climb a 20 foot ladder with a picking bag, and you will see the wisdom of trees that do not need a ladder. Take a delightful look at "Gene's Backyard Orchard" to see what can be done.
Finally, you can find a WEALTH of info on fruit growing through The Pollination Home Page.