Apple is a hardy, deciduous woody perennial tree that grows in all temperate zones. Apples grow best where there is cold, in winter, moderate summer temperatures, and medium to high humidity.
There are apples for fresh eating, some for cooking, and some for preserving. Some apples are sweet and some are bitter. Some apples are harvested in summer and some in autumn.
Apples can grow from 10 to 30 feet tall and very wide. They are moderately fast-growing, but growth slows down as they age. Apple trees can live for 100 years or more.
Apple trees bloom in the spring, set fruit, and take from 100 to 200 days to reach harvest depending upon the variety.
There are more than 7,500 recognized apple cultivars in the world and it is one of the most popular fruits around the globe. Apple trees are hearty and resilient, making them a great choice for the garden. All trees are rated by three basic growth rates: slow, medium, and fast.
Slow trees grow 12 inches or less per year in height; medium, 13-24 inches per year; and fast trees, 25 inches or more per year. The majority of apple trees grow at a medium rate.
Fast Producing Apple Trees
There are three varieties of popular apple trees that are classified as fast growers: Early Harvest, Red Delicious and Yellow Delicious.
#1. Early Harvest Apple
The Early Harvest apple tree grows to about 25 feet in height with an equal spread. It is best grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Just like every other apple varieties, early harvest apple tree requires a significant amount of sun, requiring six to eight hours minimum of full sun per day.
The tree usually begins producing edible fruit when it is 4 to 6 years old, although some small unappetizing fruits may come out earlier. Once production begins, it produces in large amounts. Early harvest fruit is yellow to green with a bitter flavor which makes it excellent for use in cooking.
Unlike other apples that are harvested in the fall, the early harvest is harvested by late June into August. Apples picked later in the growing season are sweeter in flavor. As its name suggests, this high-yielding apple tree is of the first to be ready for harvest. The golden apples are ready to be picked as early as July in some locations, with the latest harvest in September.
The creamy white flesh is juicy and bitter when ripe. Early harvest apples are great for baking when picked early. If you want to enjoy them fresh, pick them when ripe.
#2. Red Delicious Apple
The most popular apple in America is the Red Delicious apple. It is the most widely grown apple around the world. It produces sweet and crispy fruit that is pleasant to eat all on its own but can also be used in all types of cooking. The tree grows 10 to 15 feet in height and is best suited to USDA zones 5 through 8.
It produces pink and white flowers in May and fruit is ready for harvest in late September. Red delicious apple trees take approximately three to five years to produce edible fruit. Like many apple trees, the red delicious apple tree is not drought tolerant; it prefers moist well-drained soil.
This apple tree produces a medium to large, deep red apple which exhibits juicy white flesh. This apple is used for eating fresh off the tree and commonly used in desserts. The taste is mild and sweet with very little notes of acidity and the texture is very firm and crisp.
The Red Delicious needs another pollinator of a different variety planted within 50′ feet tall of it in order to ensure proper pollination. Apple trees prefer deep, fertile, moist but well-drained soil but will grow in clay and sandy soil as well.
#3. Yellow Delicious Apple
The Yellow Delicious apple grows between 10 and 25 feet in height and produces very versatile fruits within 3 to 5 years of age. This tree is best suited to USDA zones 5 through 8. A Yellow Delicious apple tree produces fruit ripe for the picking by mid to late September. The crisp and sweet flesh is excellent for snacking, baking, or saucing.
The Yellow Delicious produces a large, golden, sweet-tasting apple. Beneath the peel is a white and juicy flesh. This apple can either be eaten fresh or used in baking pies or making sauces and preserves. The taste is sweet and rich with very little notes of acidity and the texture is very firm and crisp.
The Yellow Delicious apple tree needs another pollinator of a different variety planted within 50′ feet tall of it in order to ensure proper pollination. Apple trees prefer deep, fertile, moist but well-drained soil but they can also grow in clay and sandy soil as well.