Even before New York was a state, apples were an important staple to its inhabitants. In days when clean water was difficult to find, having apples for cider was paramount. Now, we enjoy the bounty of the apple harvest in a variety of ways – pick your own, cider, donuts, pie, and more. If this inspires you to having an apple tree or two of your own, there are a few things to consider so your new trees will have the greatest chance of success.
Best Time to Plant Apple Trees
According to the Cornell Extension, the best time to plant apple trees is in the early spring. This will give you the winter to make a several crucial determinations that will lead towards successful planting. The first decision is what of cultivar do you want? There are far more than the five varieties you find in the grocery store. While it may be difficult to determine before you even start, you may ask yourself how much time do you want to commit to caring for your apple trees. Dwarf cultivars will need less time investment than a full-sized tree.
Siting Your Apple Trees
If you want have a single tree, be sure to select a self-pollinating variety. Choosing the location of your apple trees is another important decision. Apple trees do best in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil. “Light is vital to fruit production and fruit quality, and also helps keep fungal issues from advancing, so be sure to keep this in mind when choosing a location for your new apple trees.” Hopefully, you know which part of your property receives full sun. You can check this by making an hourly tour of different spots in your yard and keep track of it. Of course, this is going to be slightly different in autumn than it would have been in summer.
Planting Apple Trees
Once a site has been determined, and it’s the right time of year to plant, there is more to planting an apple tree than simply digging a hole and dropping the rootstock in it. When you dig the hole, make it large enough for the roots to rest comfortably. Rootstocks with the graft union should be planted about two inches above the soil line. This is important if it is planted below there is a chance the rootstock effectiveness will be minimized. “Do not mix dry fertilizer with the soil used to fill the hole. It can damage the tender new roots. Add 1 tablespoonful of starter solution (high-analysis, water-soluble fertilizer similar to 20-20-20) to 1 gallon of water and apply this solution to the soil around each tree immediately after planting.”
Finishing Touches For Planting Apple Trees
You will want to mulch around the tree once the hole is filled. Mulch is organic, slow release food. However, keep it from touching the base of the tree. Also, you may need to consider staking your tree. Properly proportioned trees do not need to be staked unless there are conditions (wind) that would prevent the trunk from growing straight. Should stakes are needed, use two across from each other. Another way of protecting your tree would be to surround it with a deer fence. This is the best guarantee to keep deer from destroying your nascent orchard. Whether a single tree or a small orchard, you will have the satisfaction of knowing where your apples were grown.
 https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/67/Cornell_Guide_to_Growing_Fruit.pdf pg. 19.