Tips on buying apple trees

February 07, 2009|By ROBERT KESSLER

If you are in the market for an apple tree for your yard, you might get confused by terms you find in catalogs. Here's a guide:

· Most fruit trees are grafted, which means that the root is a different apple variety from the trunk and branches. The two apple varieties are joined at a union called a graft. The root variety will control the size of the tree. Some roots will produce a standard size tree that is about 20 feet tall and probably too big for most backyard growers. A semi-dwarf rootstock will produce a tree about 15 feet tall and a dwarf will be 6 to 10 feet tall.

· Most homeowners should grow a semi-dwarf or dwarf tree. These are easier to take care of and easier to harvest. Dwarf types will start bearing fruit in just a couple of years and are suitable to grow in containers in your yard or on your patio.


· Dwarf fruit trees will produce the same size fruit as standard trees. By growing a smaller tree you don't end up with smaller fruit, too.

· The rootstock type is referred to by a code that you should be aware of. A dwarf tree is grown on an M.9 rootstock. A semi-dwarf tree is going to be on an M.7 rootstock. Be sure when you order a tree from a catalog that you pick the right rootstock for the size tree you wish to grow.

· With proper care and proper thinning of the tree, you can harvest fresh fruit grown as organically as you want. If you select the better keeping apple varieties and harvest carefully, you can store your fruit for several months into the winter.

Carbon credits

The Franklin County Farm Bureau will hold a meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 16, at the new Ag Heritage Building on 185 Franklin Farm Lane in Chambersburg, Pa. We will meet in the lower level of the building.

The informational meeting will discuss the start of a program by Farm Bureau to provide a Carbon Credit trading program for Pennsylvania agriculture.

There will be a representative of Global Emissions Exchange to help explain the program.

Carbon credits are a new source of revenue for Pennsylvania farmers. If farmers change farming practices that reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere they can earn carbon credits.

Changes may be not using any tillage or planting trees on unproductive land or switching to a different fuel.

All of these will be discussed at the meeting.

On the flip side of this are companies that produce CO2 on a daily basis.

A way to reduce this impact is through technology changes to their operation or by paying someone to reduce their CO2 from the area and these are the carbon credits they would pay for. Agriculture is in a position to provide these carbon credits.

Franklin County is one of eight counties that Farm Bureau has chosen to pilot this program.

If you are a farmer and you want to learn more about carbon trading, you are invited to attend this meeting.

Bob Kessler specializes in consumer horticulture and energy for Penn State University. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at

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