Apple trees are deciduous trees that grow throughout the USDA planting zones, although different varieties may grow better in different climatic conditions. There are as many as 7000 varieties of apple grown across the globe.
Like all other living things, apple trees also come with an expiry date. Most apple trees have a life expectancy between 35 to 45 years. Yet, there are varieties that can live for over 100 years, sometimes even more! Besides the variety you’re growing, apple tree life span depends on a number of other factors, including climate, availability of nutrients, water, resistance against pests, diseases and so on.
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If you’re wondering how long your tree will stay with you, let’s learn more about the apple tree lifespan.
What Is The Life Expectancy Of Apple Tree?
Standard apple trees typically live between 35 to 45 years. However, those grown on dwarf or semi dwarf rootstocks will have a slightly shorter life, of 30 to 35 years, on average. With proper selection of variety, suitable to your climate, and optimal planting and care through the years, apple trees may even survive for longer.
Since apple trees are deciduous trees, in contrast to evergreen, be prepared to watch them lose all their leaves by the end of fall. They might appear dead throughout the winters but will spark up again in spring with fresh green growth.
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What Is The Oldest Apple Tree?
An apple tree in Vancouver, Washington, United States is known to be the oldest apple tree in the Pacific Northwest. It was planted from seeds in 1826 by a British Royal Navy officer. The tree was growing in the Old Apple Tree Park on the northside of the Columbia River.
It died at the age of 194 years in June 2020, after being unwell for many years. Although the main trunk died, the root system is still alive and growing new saplings. One of these is being cultivated to grow at the old tree’s location to continue the legacy.
How Many Years Does An Apple Tree Bear Fruit?
Apple tree lifespan is one thing and productive or economic life is another. An apple tree may survive for much longer but will produce its best fruit for about 10 to 30 years. A standard variety mature apple tree can yield about 500 lbs of fruit each year, while that growing on semi dwarf rootstock yields about 200 lbs. A dwarf apple tree can produce up to 40 to 100 lbs of apples a year.
When Does The Apple Tree Start Bearing Fruit?
You can’t expect to start harvesting baskets of apples from the first year of planting. Apple trees grown on standard rootstocks will start producing fruit within 4 to 6 years of planting. However, it can take 7 to 8 years, sometimes even longer, for the tree to start producing to its full potential.
Dwarf trees start producing fruit much faster, in as little as two to three years, while it takes semi dwarf rootstocks 2 to 4 years to start bearing fruit from the time you transplant it in the garden. As you would expect, it takes the longest to grow apple trees from seeds. When growing a tree from seed, you can expect to wait around 6 to 10 years for it to start bearing fruit.
How Big Do Apple Trees Grow?
The mature size of apple trees depend on its variety, growing conditions and pruning. When allowed to grow at their own will, apple trees can grow up to 30 feet or taller. However, most growers limit the height to 10 feet for easier harvesting. When grown on dwarf rootstocks, smaller trees are produced, growing to about 7 to 10 feet in height. Semi dwarf rootstocks grow trees to about 10 to 16 feet in height.
Make sure you have enough space to grow the variety you are purchasing. If there are power lines or any obstacles over the space, height is even more of a consideration. Dwarf rootstocks are better suited for city dwellers with limited space to grow.
How To Take Care Of An Apple Tree
Other than the variety of the tree and other factors, the level of care it receives is a major factor that contributes to the apple tree lifespan. Well maintained apple trees have a longer productive lifespan than those that are neglected.
Here are some of the tips to enhance the productive life span and yield of your apple trees:
- Prune your apple trees late in the dormant season each year to remove the diseased, dead and damaged branches. Also remove the branches growing too close to each other to open up the canopy and allow air and sunlight to reach the inside branches. Also trim the healthy branches to boost fresh growth in spring.
- Young trees will need to be watered once each week. Reduce watering during winters and rainy seasons. Mature trees will only need to be watered once every two weeks or so.
- Young trees will need to be fertilized once a month during the growing season with 20 pounds of well-rotted compost. Spread the compost around the tree, 6 inches from the trunk. Mature trees will need to be fertilized once in the spring and then again in fall with a balanced slow release fertilizer. Water the tree well after fertilizing it.
So the apple tree lifespan is quite impressive. With a little bit of care and maintenance, you can enjoy big, juicy apples for several years. A healthy apple tree can be an important investment for your family’s healthy lifestyle.