If you are planning on planting apple trees in your backyard farm or homestead, it is important to know how big they are going to get in the years to come. You don’t want trees crowding one another, growing too close to fences or structures, or blocking out your sunlight.
Apple trees do best when they have space to spread their branches to receive maximum sunlight and air circulation.
Standard trees can grow to heights of 30 feet or more. Semi-dwarf trees can grow to heights and widths of 12 to 15 feet. Dwarf trees are the smallest and can grow to heights and widths of 8 to 10 feet. How big an apple tree will get is directly related to the rootstock of the variety.
Like many fruit trees, apple trees can be classified into sizes depending on their rootstock. The largest trees come from standard rootstock, middle-sized trees are known as semi-dwarf, and the smallest varieties are known as dwarf trees.Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.
How big do apple trees grow?
Let’s look at the average size of apple trees depending on the rootstock
|Type of Rootstock
|Size of tree
|8 to 10 feet tall and wide
|12 to 15 feet tall and wide
|15 to 30 feet or more
These are average heights per year. Different varieties will grow at different speeds. Growth is also affected by factors such as water, soil, fertilization, pruning, and pests.
|8 to 10 years
|30 or more
Dwarf tree growth rate: Dwarf trees grow at around 12 inches per year. After 5 years, your tree should be around 4 feet tall. Mature trees will reach a height of 8 feet in about 8 to 10 years.
Semi-dwarf tree growth rate: Semi-dwarf trees grow at around 12 to 18 inches per year. After 5 years, your tree should be around 7 feet tall. Mature trees will reach a height of 15 feet in about 8 to 10 years.
Standard tree growth rate: Standard trees with vigorous growth increase in height by around 18 to 24 inches per year. After 5 years, your tree should be around 15 feet tall. Standard trees can grow up to heights of 30 feet and more after 10 years.
How fast do apple trees grow?
Apple trees have a moderate to fast growth rate. Different varieties grow at different speeds, but to get an average, you can plan on your tree growing as follows –
Young apple trees grow in height and width at around 12 to 24 inches in a year.
Mature, fruit-bearing apple trees will grow at around 8 to 12 inches in a year.
Apple trees can grow as old as 30 years or more. Some are known to reach an age of 80 years or more. Growth and fruit-bearing slow down as the tree gets older. Standard trees can take 5 to 6 years to bear their first fruit. Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees are can produce fruit in about three years.
The growth cycle of an apple tree
The first year of many apple trees takes place in a nursery. This is when the professionals will cultivate and establish the tree via grafting. This process uses a cutting from an apple variety that is grafted onto a selected rootstock.
At around 2 years, you can purchase your tree. At this stage, it looks rather bare, with just a stem and a few leafless branches that have been pruned back.
After planting, in years 3 to 4, you can expect to see new limbs and leaves appearing. The truck will increase in diameter and become stronger and your tree will take on a conical shape. In spring, you may see your first fruits starting to grow.
In years 5 to 6, your tree will be well-established and able to produce a luscious crop of fruit every year.
Factors that affect how big your apple tree gets
There are many factors that can affect how big your apple tree will get. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones.
Fruit-bearing apple trees require about 1 inch of rainfall every 7 to 10 days. Young trees should get at least 2 inches of water per week. If your natural rainfall is insufficient, you may have to plan for irrigation systems to provide adequate water.
Apple trees grow best in medium-textured, well-draining loamy soil. Sandy soil will not retain enough water and clay-type soil will hold too much water, causing the roots of your tree to rot. The soil should have a PH reading that is neutral to slightly acidic.
Sunlight has a direct effect on how big your apple trees will get. Your trees need full sunlight, 6 to 8 hours per day. Trees that are planted in shady areas will not reach their full size.
Pests and disease
Apple trees can be affected by Aphids, Apple Sawfly, Apple Scab, Canker, and Powdery Mildew. Diseased trees will grow slowly or may even die.
Fruit trees respond well to fertilization. Apple trees can be fertilized once a year in the fall with a general-purpose fertilizer that is high in Potassium and Calcium. A slow-growing tree will often show a growth spurt after receiving a boost of fertilizer.
Apple trees need adequate space to spread their branches. Trees that are planted too close together will not grow to their full size. Shade from surrounding trees will block out sunlight and air circulation, causing damp which attracts pests and disease.
Pruning can encourage new growth by thinning out branches and allowing sunlight and air to penetrate. On the flip side, too much pruning, or incorrect pruning, can stunt growth and damage your trees.
Apple trees that come from different rootstocks will grow to different sizes. The amount of space you have in your backyard farm will give you a good indication of the size of the tree you should plant.
Standard trees will grow to heights of 30 feet or more, while semi-dwarf and dwarf trees will be far smaller, at around 8 to 15 feet. Ensure that you choose the correct rootstock to start with, to avoid disappointment in the years to come.