Pristine Apple Care – Tips On Growing A Pristine Apple Tree
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Apple sauce, hot apple pie, apples, and cheddar cheese. Getting hungry? Try growing a Pristine apple and enjoy all of this from your own garden. It’s a fairly young cultivar from the 1970’s that was introduced as the result of trials at Purdue University. Some tips on how to grow Pristine apples will have you enjoying the crisp, tangy flavor of the fruit in just a few years.
Pristine Apple Facts
Pristine apple trees produce outstanding fruit with good disease and pest resistance. The plants are the result of an early breeding experiment with ‘Camuzat’ as the seed and ‘Co-op 10’ providing the pollen. The fruits are beautiful, medium to large apples with almost perfect golden skin.
Pristine apple trees were introduced in 1974 and originally called ‘Co-op 32.’ This is because the variety was developed with the cooperation of the New Jersey, Illinois, and Indiana breeding stations and was likely the 32nd cross. When it came to the public eye in 1982, the name was changed to Pristine as a remark on its smooth, unblemished appearance. Also, the letters “pri” in the name are a nod to the breeding partners Purdue, Rutgers, and Illinois.
The fruit ripens in summer, around July, and has a softer crunch than later crops. Pristine apple facts also tout this cultivar’s resistance to apple scab, fire blight, cedar apple rust, and powdery mildew.
How to Grow Pristine Apples
Pristine trees are available in standard, semi-dwarf, and dwarf. A pollinating partner is needed when growing a Pristine apple. Cortland, Gala, or Jonathan work well.
Site trees in full sun in well-draining, fertile loam with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Dig holes twice as deep and wide as the roots. Soak bare root trees in water for up to two hours prior to planting. Plant grafted trees with the graft above the soil. Firm soil well around the roots and water in well.
Young trees will need consistent water and staking. Prune the first two years to establish a strong leader and scaffold branches.
Pristine Apple Care
Once they are mature, apple trees are fairly easy to care for. Prune them annually when dormant to remove dead or diseased wood and promote horizontal branches and air circulation. Every ten years, remove old fruiting spurs to make way for new ones.
Fertilize apple trees in early spring. Trees in regions prone to fungal disease will need copper fungicide applied early in the season. Use sticky traps for many apple pests and horticultural oil, sprays such as neem, for others.
Harvest Pristine just as it gets a full golden color with no trace of yellow. Store the apples in a cool, dry location or in the refrigerator and enjoy these tasty fruits for weeks.
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The Spacing for Planting Apple Trees
Apple trees are grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 4 through 10, depending on the variety. The spacing between apple trees, either in a yard or in an orchard, can play a crucial role in the health and productivity of the trees. Crowding can cause trees to compete for valuable water, nutrients and sunlight. Apple trees that are too close together may also share pests. The necessary space between apple trees depends on the anticipated adult size of the tree. Apple trees come in different sizes: dwarf, semidwarf and standard.
Apple blossoms grow in clusters. Apple trees grow more apples if a bee or other insect carrying complementary pollen lands on the largest blossom in a cluster and the first to open. This is called the king blossom. To ensure proper pollination, matching trees need to blossom and yield pollen at the same time. To help you choose complementary apple trees, nurseries that sell transplant seedlings typically have charts that list overlapping bloom times for various cultivars. The pollen from crabapple trees often sold as ornamentals will pollinate standard apple trees.
Some nurseries list some apple varieties as being self-fruitful. These include Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Rome, Jonathan, Jonagold, Liberty and Rome. While these varieties may yield some apples if they planted alone, it is not recommended without cross-pollination they typically yield few apples of poor quality. Some apple varieties produce sterile pollen and cannot be used to pollinate other trees. These include Baldwin, Boskoop, Bramley’s Seedling Crispin, Creston, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Mutsu, Roxbury Russet, Spigold, Stayman, Wealthy and Winesap. Apple varieties that produce sterile pollen require pollen from other trees.
Supplemental Spray Materials
The proper use of supplementary spray materials can increase the yield of usable fruit. Bacillus thuringiensis (Biobit, Dipel, Javelin, Sok-BT, B.t.) is effective on foliage-feeding caterpillars. Sevin is registered for all of the listed crops. It is effective for many pests, including apple and blueberry maggots, Japanese beetles, spittlebugs and tent caterpillars. Some backyard products contain permethrin. It can be somewhat effective on plum curculio (a major, serious tree fruit pest), but not in the low concentrations available to backyard growers. To really control plum curculio, adding a supplemental spray (like carbaryl) is necessary. Spray oil can help control certain aphids, mites, scales, and pear psyllas on fruit trees (oils can also suppress some diseases). Copper soap (copper octanoate) is effective for cedar apple rust, fire blight and peach leaf curl. Myclobutanil is effective against brown rot and cedar apple rust. Propiconazole is effective for brown rot, and chlorothalonil is also labeled for brown rot. Bacillus subtilis (Serenade) is registered for fire blight and gray mold, Streptomyces lydicus (Actinovate) is labeled for small fruits for gray mold and powdery mildew, and potassium bicarbonate is effective for powdery mildew. The following sections will give examples and situations where supplementary sprays or sanitation may be helpful.
Leaf spot symptom. Credit: APS Press, Photograph courtesy C. A. Smith.