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cider from container apple trees

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:50 am
by peste
Hi -- I'm interested in hard cider. I've been fermenting cider I've bought from the cider mills around here for several years.

I'd like to eventually buy my own apple trees, but I live in a condo. I've considered buying some dwarf apple trees to keep in containers. I live in Plymouth Michigan, which is zone 6a.

Which varieties of trees and root stocks would be best for these circumstances? I have never pressed my own apples so I've considered getting trees that produce fruit I could blend with existing cider to create a better cider for fermenting and I've thought about trees that produce good single variety cider like kingston black.

I'd ideally like to get two, maybe three trees. It'd be nice, but not essential that one of the trees produced a good apple for eating as well as for cider. I'm more interested in cider than in eating.

Thank you for your advice.

Re: cider from container apple trees

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 4:58 pm
by dmtaylor
Oh good -- another cider guy! I'm just getting into growing cider apples. Currently have Foxwhelp, and am now going for Kingston Black, Esopus Spitzenburg, and Ashmead's Kernel, among others, which are good for both cider and for eating.

You can grow apples in containers successfully, but with only 2 or 3 trees, you're not going to get much more than a couple quarts of cider, or maybe a gallon at best. Just be aware of that, and consider whether you might have room for 5 or 6 trees, or more. You should be able to grow some good cider apple trees in just a few years time on dwarfing rootstocks such as M.27 or G.65. These trees will max out at about 6 feet high. If you can handle 8 feet height, you can look at M.9, B.9, or G.16 rootstocks -- just be sure to use a nice big container (barrel?) for each.

As for the tops of the trees, some good cider varieties might include Foxwhelp, Dabinett, Harry Master's Jersey, Zestar and/or Honeycrisp (which are every bit as great for cider as they are for eating), just to name a few. You'll also want a crabapple tree in the mix to provide even more astringency and tartness, not to mention a lot of blossoms to pollinate all the others -- personally I have just grafted some Dolgo scions, but any kind will do. I've used wild crabs with great success. They will redden or darken the cider a lot as well, which might be useful if you don't want all golden colored cider all the time. They also say that Kingston Black is a natural dwarf, so maybe there's no need for dwarf rootstock, but I haven't seen a full sized tree to know how small it really is. In another year or two I might have a little better idea, assuming some of my grafts take.

What great fun it is to grow your own apples and to press your own cider! I've done the pressing but I have yet to get any fruit on my trees. I am fairly certain that 2012 will be the year for my third-leaf trees.

Have fun with it.

Re: cider from container apple trees

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 12:27 am
by peste
I have access to a wild crab apple tree I was going to try to get apples from this year. We'll see how well that works. It'll be the first time I try to get juice from real apples, so it should be interesting.

That's pretty interesting regarding the quantity of cider I can expect to get from two trees. I'll likely start with two and add a new tree or two every couple of years when the urge strikes. I've been fermenting 5 gallons of cider from cider mills and eventually I'd like to be able to make around 10 gallons with cider I press myself. This is a pretty long range goal.

Honeycrisp is a pretty interesting suggestion. I like those and I like the cripps pink, so maybe I'll get one of those and some cider apple that will pollinate with whichever one I pick.

Re: cider from container apple trees

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 9:36 am
by Greyt.Chase
I don't really have anything to add, but I just wanted to say "Hi!" to Peste, from one Michigander to another!

Re: cider from container apple trees

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 4:45 pm
by dmtaylor
Cool, some Michiganders... maybe if I shout loud enough, you'll be able to hear me from where I'm at on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan.


Re: cider from container apple trees

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:13 am
by PA_Docent
I am thinking about doing the same and currently grow Nehou, Muscat de Bernay, Kingston Black, Tremlett's Bitter specifically for making sparkling cider. Also, my other trees will be used for flavoring. Muscat de Bernay and Tremlett's Bitter are very slow growers which might adopt well to your situation.