Stages of Apple Growth

Written by nicole crawford
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Stages of Apple Growth
Knowing the stages of apple growth can help cultivators to prevent problems and provide optimal care. (apple image by Pali A from

As noted by the Ohio State University Extension, "Growing high-quality apples requires considerable knowledge about cultivar selection, planting site, soil types, planting techniques, training, pruning, fertilisation and pest management." Familiarising yourself with the various stages of apple growth may also help increase your chances of a successful crop yield. Although apple growth stages can vary by cultivar, they are generally consistent.

Initial Stages

Apples begin in the dormant stage. In this stage, the bud is not yet visible. As the bud develops, the apple moves into the silver and green tip stages. The bud tissue becomes visible and transforms from a dark brownish-silver colour to a vibrant green. At this point, the bud is on the brink of blossoming. The green tissue continues to emerge from the bud and continues until half an inch is visible and the leaves begin to open. According to the Michigan State University Extension, this stage is often called the "Mouse Ear" stage.

Flowering Stages

The apple now enters the flowering stages. As the leaves fold back from the bud, the flower becomes visible. The flower bud slowly opens as the leaves grow in size and darken in colour. When 80 per cent of the flowers have opened, the apple tree is in full bloom. The tree's central flower, also known as the king bloom, is the first to open and can potentially yield the largest fruit. The flowering stage ends when all the flower petals have fallen from the tree.

Fruit Maturation and Harvest

Once the flower petals have been shed, the fruit clusters begin to develop. Small fruits will drop from the tree early in development, also known as the June drop. The fruit clusters are thinned by growers when they are between 15 and 21 millimetres in size. Thinning helps control apple crop yields. Once the fruit reaches an inch in diameter, the growth continues steadily as the fruit changes in colour. Once the fruit has ripened, the growth process is complete and harvesting begins. According to the Michigan State University Extension, 2.5 inches is the smallest size for commercially sold fruit.

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