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All about apples, pears, plums, and cherries - and orchards where they are grown

Grimes Golden Apple tree

Owner: Cathe

Location:  West Oshtemo, MICHIGAN / KALAMAZOO COUNTY, United States

Age:Planted in about 1990
Age of this tree:35 years
Soil:Very sandy loam, have to augment with compost annually, great drainage 
Climate at this location:Windy with high humidity most of the time; hot, muggy summers with freezing cold winters; 5A subzone in a 5B zone
Pruning:Prune occasionally - tree grows too wide at times, and apple heft can damage limbs
Tree form:Bush (wider at top than bottom)
Height:Between 6ft / 2m and 15ft / 4m
Cropping:Heavy crops
Growth:This tree grows easily here
Herbicides:Manual treatment (hoeing and weeding)
Pesticides:Organic treatments
Local pests:Plum Curculio, Rose Chafer beetle, deer

Owner's comments

The property is on a higher elevation than much of the surrounding area, and was severely eroded farm land with no wind break when I bought it in 1994. It took about 10 years for the new wind break trees to get tall enough to make any difference in slowing the typical 10 to 45 mph winds. The tree is the only Grimes Golden on the property. It's a dwarf variety (don't know the root stock). There are two other dwarf varieties that make up the row, Cortland and UltraMac. It took 11 years for the tree to produce (the first to do so of the apples), and in the first year it produced exactly one. Since then, I have gotten plus or minus two bushels every season. There are also two dwarf pear trees about 60 feet away (Seckle and Moonglow). The property is located in the heart of the Michigan fruit belt, so it deals with all of the same problems as the farmers. The biggest pest is the Plum Curculio. I treat with a light dusting of kaolin clay and water solution after every heavy rain. It's the only natural pesticide that deters them. The other biggy is Rose Cafer. They actually deter the Japanese beetle! I use a pyrethrin and canola oil solution to keep them off the trees. Local area also has a lot of airborne fungus that I treat successfully with copper soap. At harvest time, the apples don't look very nice, and I shied away from them for the first couple of years thinking they were "bad." But a trip to the local extension office showed that the damage was only skin deep, and that the apples were pristine once peeled and cored. Obviously, they wouldn't be "saleable," but with one tree, who'd want to sell them? The Grimes Golden apples make the worlds best apple butter, so that's all I make with them, and I can put up enough from this one little tree for the whole year. Uncommonly, it has been a consistent producer for the last five years. I'll be planting a couple more trees when I can locate a local source. They are the crispiest, juiciest, and most cidery apples I've ever tasted. So, I'm hooked.