Melrose Apple Tree Care – Learn How To Grow Melrose Apple Trees

Melrose Apple Tree Care – Learn How To Grow Melrose Apple Trees

By: Teo Spengler

You can’t ask much more of an apple than to look good, taste great, and get even better in storage. That’s the Melrose apple tree for you in a nutshell. Melrose is Ohio’s official state apple, and it’s definitely won a lot of fans across the country. If you are considering growing Melrose apples, or just want more Melrose apple information, read on. We’ll also give you tips on Melrose apple tree care.

Melrose Apple Information

According to Melrose apple information, Melrose apples were developed as part of Ohio’s apple breeding program. They are a delicious cross between Jonathan and Red Delicious.

If you want to start growing Melrose apples, don’t hesitate. Sweet and sugary in taste, these apples are also visually attractive, medium-sized, round and robust in appearance. The base skin color is red, but it is over-blushed with ruby red. Best of all is the rich taste of the juicy flesh. It’s wonderful eaten right off the tree, but even better after a time in storage, since it keeps on ripening.

In fact, one of the joys of growing Melrose apples is that the taste holds for up to four months in refrigerated storage. And you’ll get a lot of bang for your bucks. One tree can yield up to 50 pounds of fruit.

How to Grow Melrose Apples

If you have decided to start growing Melrose apples, you’ll have the easiest time in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. That’s where Melrose apple tree care will be a snap. The trees are hardy to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 C.).

Find a site that gets at least a half day of direct sun. Like most fruit trees, Melrose apple trees require well-drained soil to thrive.

Regular irrigation after transplant is an important part of Melrose apple tree care. You can mulch around the tree to keep the moisture in the soil, but don’t bring the mulch up so close that it touches the trunk.

Melrose apple trees grow to 16 feet (5 m.) tall, so be sure there’s enough room where you want to plant. Most apple trees require an apple neighbor of another variety for pollination, and Melrose is no exception. Lots of varieties will work with Melrose.

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Site Location

Apple trees can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9, depending on the specific cultivar. Like all apple trees, semi-dwarf trees need full sun to produce abundant, quality fruit. They also need protection from high winds. An open area in a cultivated lawn is ideal, but don't plant them near other trees or shrubs. These other plantings compete for nutrients, water and sunlight. Semi-dwarf trees need less space than standard apples, but more space than dwarfs. How much space your semi-dwarf apple tree needs depends on the variety and the root stock, but in general, space semi-dwarf apple trees 14 to 20 feet apart.

Apples: A Guide to Selection and Use

Apples are a versatile and appealing fruit of widespread popularity. Many enjoy growing their own apples in backyard planting, while other prefer to purchase quality apples grown by professional fruit growers. Whether you plan to grow your own apples or purchase them from someone else, it is desirable to have information descriptive of the various types enjoying popularity today. Such information can be used to make important decisions concerning the type of trees to buy for planting or fruit to purchase for family use.

Ohio’s Leading Apple Varieties

The trend today is toward red apples, especially when the apples are grown for sale to others through commercial marketing channels. In cases where the apples are being grown primarily for home use, yellow apples such as yellow Transparent, Lodi and Grimes Golden may be used. Golden Delicious, the most popular yellow variety today, in not only well suited to the home fruit planting, but to commercial as well. The popular red varieties of apples at the present time in order of number of trees in the state are Red Delicious, Rome Beauty, Jonathan, Stayman and McIntosh. Red apples becoming increasingly popular as people try them and like them are the varieties Franklin and Melrose.

Franklin is a cross between McIntosh and Delicious and has a fine flavor and aroma. Harvest is normally during late September. Melrose is a cross between Jonathan and Delicious. The fruits are large with good flavor and texture. They ripen around the middle of October. Other newer apples growers may want to try are Ruby, Holiday and the various strains of Red Delicious. Also worth trying are Tydeman’s Red, Paula Red, Prima, Priscilla, Surprize (yellow) and Empire. At present, there is a trend to plant trees on dwarfing rootstock, both in commercial orchards and in backyard planting. By planting small trees, the home gardener can get several trees of different cultivars (varieties) in the same space that one or two large trees would require.

Most of the popular varieties, including those mentioned above, are now available on dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks. Dwarf trees, normally do not get much over 10 to 12 feet tall at maturity, while semi-dwarf trees may grow to be 15 to 18 feet tall. Dwarf trees begin to bear earlier than the larger, standard trees. Dwarfing does not affect fruit size or quality.

Apples for Specific Use

Apples are a favorite fruit of many people for eating out of hand or in fresh salads. The fruit of many apple varieties are also excellent for making a wide variety of cooked products. Apples best suited to particular uses are indicated below.


  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Red Delicious
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Melrose
  • Franklin
  • Prima


  • Golden Delicious
  • Melrose
  • Yellow Transparent
  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Grimes Golden
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Rome Beauty
  • Lodi
  • Cortland
  • Jonathan
  • Grimes Golden
  • Melrose
  • Rome Beauty
  • Yellow Transparent
  • McIntosh
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Lodi


  • Jonathan
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Rome Beauty
  • McIntosh
  • Cortland
  • Grimes Golden
  • Melrose
  • Stayman Winesap

Freezing for Slicing

  • Jonathan
  • Golden Delicious
  • Stayman Winesap
  • Red Delicious
  • Grimes Golden
  • McIntosh

Freezing for Sauce

Freezing for Baking


The best cider is usually made from a blend of different varieties of apples. Varieties are grouped into four groups according to their suitability as cider material.

Sweet Subacid*

Astringent (Crab apples)


Mildly Acid to Slightly Tart

General Use

* Usually furnish the highest percentage of total stock used for cider.

Written by Richard Funt, Professor Emeritus, Horticulture and Crop Science, College or Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Originally prepared by James D. Utzinger, Extension Horticulture, The Ohio State University.

Melrose Apple Information: Growing Melrose Apples In The Landscape - garden

QUESTION: What are some of the advantages of growing apples?

ANSWER: Right along with pumpkins, there’s nothing that seems more symbolic of the fall harvest season than apples. It's no secret that Washington apples are known throughout the world for their beauty and crunch. In fact more than half of all apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from the 175,000 acres of apple orchards nestled in the eastern foothills of Washington state. In 2011, the state apple crop destined for the fresh market is estimated at over 100 million boxes! There are no harvest machines to pick apples which means each of the nearly 12 billion apples harvested is handpicked by an estimated 35,000 to 45,000 pickers. If you put all of the Washington State apples picked in a year side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times.

Eating fresh apples is good for you. The average U.S. consumer eats about 19 pounds of fresh apples a year, about one apple per week. A new national survey of 1,021 household shoppers across the nation conducted by the U.S. Apple Association shows people think of apples as the next superfruit. It is an accessible, value-priced, nutritional energy source on par with blueberries and pomegranates.

There’s more good news when it comes to eating healthy apples and apple products. Studies have shown that apples and apple products (like sauce and juice) can help lower your risk of developing heart disease and reduced cancer risk. A 2001 Mayo Clinic study indicated that quercetin, a flavanoid abundant in apples, helps prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells. A Cornell University study indicated pytochemicals in the skin of an apple inhibited the reproduction of colon cancer cells by 43 percent. The National Cancer Institute has reported that foods containing flavanoids like those found in apples may reduce the risk of lung cancer by as much as 50 percent.

Although apples are not grown as a commercial crop here in our coastal area, most home gardeners have at least one and more often several apple tree varieties which they savor for fresh eating.

Identifying Apples Varieties

QUESTION: Can you suggest a good reference for identifying apples? We have had some trees for years, but never knew what variety they were.

ANSWER: Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to accurately identify every apple. Some varieties may have been planted years ago without a specific name. Other trees may be seedlings for which there never was a name. One of the best references I have for apple identification is our WSU Extension Publication 1436 appropriately titled: Apple Cultivars for Puget Sound . Its 70 pages provide descriptions and colored pictures of various apple cultivars. Copies are available from the WSU Bulletins Office at 1-800-723-1763. Cost is $8.50.

Planting Apple Seeds

QUESTION: We found the most delicious apples on a very old apple tree in an old homestead. We are wondering if we planted the seeds will we get a tree which produces the same flavorful apples?

ANSWER: Some gardeners are tempted to propagate fruit trees from seed. either from fruit grown in the backyard or from purchased fruit. WSU horticulturalists suggest you resist the temptation. Most fruit trees are grafted by splicing a piece of the desired fruiting cultivar onto a seedling rootstock. It is usually the rootstock that makes the plant disease-resistant, hardy, vigorous and perhaps dwarf. Plants grown from seeds of grafted plants may not only produce inferior fruit, but also huge, unmanageable trees for the home landscape that can take 10 years or more to be mature enough to set fruit.

Apple Scab

QUESTION: About this time of year our apple trees begin looking sick. The leaves get spots on them and some even fall off the tree. What is causing this? Is there something we can spray on the tree to prevent this?

ANSWER: Most gardeners who have a few fruit trees can attest to the fact that the apple scab fungus is prevalent in our coastal area. Who hasn’t picked an apple from their backyard orchard that didn’t have the characteristic scabby lesions on the fruit? The apple scab fungus first appears as small, olive green spots on leaves that have unclear margins. Spots on the undersides of leaves sometimes look velvety due to fungal growth. As they age, the infections become darker and more distinct in outline. Lesions may appear more numerous closer to the mid-vein of the leaf. Affected leaves often twist or pucker. If heavily infected, the leaf becomes distorted and drops early in the summer. Trees of highly susceptible varieties may be severely defoliated by summer.

When scab infects flower stems, it can cause flowers to drop. Scabby spots can appear on fruit later in the season. These begin as velvety or sooty, gray-black (and sometimes greasy looking) lesions that sometimes have a red halo. The lesions later become sunken and tan and can have areas of olive-colored spores around their margins. Although scabs are unsightly, the majority are only skin deep. Severely infected fruit often becomes distorted and usually drops from the tree. Infected fruit will sometimes crack, which allows entry of secondary organisms.

Apple scab is caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis. It survives the winter in the previous year’s diseased leaves that have fallen under the tree. In the spring the fungus produces millions of spores which are released during rainy periods. The spores are carried by wind to young leaves, flower parts and fruit. Once in contact with susceptible tissue, the spore germinates in a film of water and the fungus penetrates into the plant. Depending upon weather conditions, lesions will show up in 9 to 17 days. The fungus produces a different kind of spore in these newly developed lesions. These spores are carried and spread by splashing rain to other leaves and fruits where new infections occur. The disease may continue to develop and spread throughout the summer.

Very few of the apple varieties grown in our coastal area are resistant to the scab fungus. WSU currently lists Akane (Tokyo Rose), Chehalis, Liberty, Prima and Tydeman Red as cultivars that have shown good resistance to apple scab fungus and have good fruit quality. The cultivars Jonagold, Macoun, Melrose, Spartan and King have all shown intermediate resistance.

Home gardeners with just a few trees can significantly reduce the potential for apple scab by raking up and destroying dropped leaves in the fall. Applying dolomitic lime in the fall, after leaf drop, will also help to reduce inoculums next spring. Shredding fallen leaves with a lawnmower and adding nitrogen (urea) will enhance decomposition. If put into a compost pile, be sure the leaves decompose completely.

The key to successfully controlling apple scab fungus is to apply fungicides early and thoroughly to protect new growth. Examples of fungicides currently registered for use to help prevent apple scab infections include: Bonide Lime Sulfur Spray, Spectracide Immunox Multi Purpose Fungicide Spray Concentrate and Lilly Miller Polysul Summer and Dormant Spray Concentrate. Always read and follow labeled directions.

Water Core

QUESTION: When we bite into our King apples we find areas that appear to be watersoaked. What causes this?

ANSWER: If you bite into an apple and find that the area near the core has a watersoaked appearance to it, you are observing “watercore.” Watercore is a physiological disorder that develops in the fruit flesh while the fruit is on the tree. It increases in severity as fruit matures. Watercore is more likely to occur under conditions that also give good red color and good fruit maturity that is, cool nights and bright, sunny days.

Under these conditions, leaves are manufacturing considerable photosynthates (sugars) in the daytime that should eventually be stored as carbohydrates in the fruit. Cool night temperatures and sunny days are the key. The fruit is stuffed full of photosynthates that can not be converted to carbohydrates, resulting in watercore.

Watercore is not all bad. Fruit in this condition has a little higher early firmness and is quite juicy. Sometimes watercore apples are advertised as having an abundance of “nature’s nectar.” The only problem is that they will not keep as long as other apples. Generally you can count on storing watercore apples no more than about four months.

Since watercore will be worse in over-mature apples, pick apples at the proper stage of maturity. The following varieties are susceptible to watercore: King, Gravenstein, Winter Banana, Jonathan, Delicious and Winesap. The solution to the watercore problem is to use the apples a cider project may solve everything.

Bitter Pit

QUESTION: We have a Buckley Giant apple tree that is loaded with fruit. Unfortunately, the fruit is heavily pitted. The pits eventually become somewhat corky and dry. What caused this to happen? Should we spray it with something next year to prevent this from happening again?

ANSWER: Based on the symptoms you are describing I suspect your tree has a physiological disorder commonly known as "Bitter-Pit". Symptoms of Bitter-Pit are rarely observed much before harvest time. As the fruit ripens both the number of fruit affected and the number of pits per fruit will increase. The visual symptoms are the development of relatively small discolored spots on the fruit, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter. In the early stages these spots will appear water-soaked, resembling and often confused with small harvest bruises. Later they will darken, become somewhat depressed, resembling pits, and dry, often becoming corky. Over time they will also tend to become more numerous, particularly towards the calyx or blossom end of the fruit. Rarely are they observed high on the shoulder of the fruit, towards the stem end of the apple.

The exact cause of bitter-pit has never been clearly identified although it has been known and investigated for more than a hundred years. Tree fruit specialists agree that the problem is associated with a lack of calcium. Low levels of calcium in the fruit are due to competition with shoots for calcium, which may be aggravated by weather conditions. Hot, dry weather in July or August tends to increase the incidence of bitter pit. Irregular irrigation may also increase bitter pit. Heavy dormant-season pruning, over thinning, and excessive nitrogen fertilizer promote bitter pit.

WSU horticulturalists recommend applying five summer sprays about one month apart of calcium chloride or calcium nitrate at not more than 5 lbs./ 100 gallons of water. Add a surfactant to all sprays to reduce the possibility > of burning. Higher rates will burn foliage and sometimes even the fruit.

'Buckley Giant', 'Northern Spy', 'Gravenstein', 'Grimes Golden' and 'Baldwin' are all very susceptible to bitter pit.

Biennial Bearing of Apples

QUESTION: Last year our apple tree was just loaded. This year it has a very light crop. What caused this?

ANSWER: Occasionally certain fruit trees, such as apples, bear heavily one year and sparsely the next. This is called "biennial bearing". The spring-flowering buds of most hardy fruit trees have actually been formed during the previous summer. Therefore, an especially heavy crop one-year may prevent adequate bud formation for the following year.

Biennial bearing is difficult to alter or correct. However, you can induce a return to normal yearly fruit production by early and heavy thinning during the year in which the trees are producing their large yield.

Creating Larger Apples

QUESTION: Our apple trees always bear a lot of fruit. Unfortunately the fruit is always small. What can we do to get larger apples?

ANSWER: Apple trees sometimes set more fruit than they can mature to a desirable size. Thinning the fruit now will not only increase the size of the remaining fruit on the tree, but also improve fruit color and quality, reduce limb breakage, and promote general tree vigor. Thinning helps maintain regular, annual bearing in certain apple varieties, such as Golden Delicious and Yellow Transparent, that otherwise have a tendency to bear heavy crops every other year. Another benefit from thinning fruit is that it permits more thorough spraying for effective disease and insect control.

Apples should be thinned as soon as possible after the fruit has set. If full benefits are to be obtained, thinning should be completed within 20 to 25 days after full bloom. A distance of 6 to 10 inches between fruit is recommended. With varieties of apples, where greater size of individual fruit is important, the greater spacing is preferred. The center apple of a cluster is usually the largest and the best apple to leave.

Picking Apples

QUESTION: How can we tell when our apples are ready to pick?

ANSWER: The time to pick apples is when the fruit is fully mature, but before it becomes overripe. One of the easiest ways to determine fruit maturity is to cut an apple horizontally and look at the seeds. Usually in later ripening varieties like King, the seeds become brown when the fruit is ripe, but with early season apples, they may be ready to eat before the seeds turn brown.

As apples ripen, a hormone called ethylene is released by the fruit. This hormone acts on certain cells that separate the fruit stem from the spur on which it grows, called the abscission layer. As the fruit ripens, the cells in the abscission layer weaken causing the fruit to fall from the tree. When a few sound apples drop to the ground, the apples on the tree are nearly mature. Mature apples are easily separated from the tree. Do not pull the apple down, but twist it upward with a rotating motion.

Color, both outside and under the skin, is also a useful indication of maturity. Apples may be yellow, red, green, or combinations of these colors at maturity. When the green has almost completely given way to yellow, a yellow variety is mature. With red blush or striped apples, the area where there is no red color usually changes from green to yellowish at maturity. This does not help with the new red strains, which are red all over long before maturity. The change of flesh color (between the skin and core) from greenish to white is also a sign of maturity.

Finally, if you still have doubts as to if apples are mature, use the taste test. When an apple becomes lightly softer and tastes sweet and juicy, it is mature.

Fruit can be packed in ordinary boxes lined with newspaper or other padding. Some people use perforated plastic liner bags to prevent fruit from drying and shriveling in long storage. Plastic bags without holes for ventilation should not be used as they can cause build up of trapped ethylene, which will speed up ripening and shorten storage life, while excess moisture contributes to rot. Check periodically for rotten fruits and remove them at once. The old timers knew what they were talking about when they said that “one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.” If picked at the proper time and given good storage, many of our best apples can be enjoyed for months after the harvest season is over.

Storing Picked Apples

QUESTION: We just picked our King apples. What is the best way to store them for long term use?

ANSWER: Apples are best stored at 30-32 degrees F. with 90 percent relative humidity and some air circulation. Warmer temperatures will cause the apples to age faster and low humidity can cause excessive shriveling. Ideal conditions may be difficult to find in modern housing, but can be achieved if a little creativity is applied. The most practical solution for home storage is the refrigerator. However, the air inside refrigerators is very dry, particularly in frost-free types. Pack the apples in perforated plastic bags to keep the humidity high yet still allow some air circulation through the holes in the bag.

Apple Cider

QUESTION: We have a number of apple trees at our place. Which apples make the best cider?

ANSWER: For the best cider, try to squeeze a mix of apples. Cider makers don’t agree on much, but they are united in the belief that mixes produce the best juice. Several factors influence flavor in cider. These include the amounts of acid, tannin, and sugar in addition to the aromatic qualities in the apples. You can perk up bland juice from one apple variety dramatically by adding juice from tart, aromatic or astringent varieties. Don’t worry about precise measurements. Experiment until you find the taste that is most appealing to you.

Avoid moldy, rotten or unripe fruit they’ll make bad tasting and sometimes toxic juice. Don’t worry about apple scab, or other surface blemishes they won’t spoil the cider.

If you use windfalls select them carefully. Apples that have spent too much time on the ground pick up acetobacter, the bacteria that converts sweet juice to vinegar. Reject any that are slimy feeling, soft or heavily bruised.

Do not use windfall apples lying under the tree if there’s a possibility of animal manure of any kind in the immediate vicinity or on the apples. For instance, cows or horses may be in and out of the orchard. In an urban setting, dogs and cats can also contribute undesirable material.

Be sure to thoroughly wash the apples before grinding and pressing.

WSU Food specialists advise that apple juice should be pasteurized by heating the juice to at least 160F to kill any harmful bacteria that may have been left on the apples. Check the temperature with a thermometer because you will maintain a taste more like unheated apple cider if you don’t bring the cider to a full boil. Keep the cider refrigerated.

Apple Worms

QUESTION: Our Apples Are Full of Worms ! What can we do?

ANSWER: There’s nothing more disgusting then finding the proverbial worm in the apple. Unfortunately, both apple maggots and codling moth are common pests in home orchards throughout Western Washington . Although neither of these pests is strictly a worm, their larvae are responsible for the majority of damage to local apples. It’s important to know the difference between these two pests, to be able to recognize the insects, and to understand how to manage their invasive behavior.

The larvae of the Codling moth are pinkish or cream-colored “worms”, which have distinct black or dark brown heads and six claw-like legs. Codling moth larvae tunnel straight to the core of an apple where they actively feed, often leaving granular, brown excrement around the entry holes that look like sawdust.

Apple maggots on the other hand, are white, headless and legless. Fruit infested with apple maggots has a mushy, brown appearance, but the core is left untouched. The apple maggot is the juvenile stage of a fly which emerges during early summer, mates and lays eggs. It doesn’t look like a common fly because it has distinct black and white striped markings on the wings. When laying each egg, the female makes a tiny puncture in the fruit and inserts the egg just below the skin. This initial fruit damage is easily overlooked, but eventually leads to fruit dimpling. The eggs hatch in 3 to 7 days as small, cylindrical, cream colored larvae known as maggots. The maggots lack legs and visible head capsules, but have dark mouth parts that protrude from tapered heads. As apple maggots tunnel through the apple flesh, they leave characteristic winding brown trails that are best seen when the fruit is cut open. The first indication that a backyard apple tree is infested with apple maggot occurs when the homeowner discovers these brown trails in fruit at harvest. Fruit damaged by apple maggot becomes soft, rotten and often drops from the tree.

The traditional approach to protecting apples from apple maggot has been spraying backyard trees with organophosphate insecticides. Since apple maggot spends most of its life within the fruit or buried in the soil, the insecticides must be timed to coincide with adult fly activity. One practical and effective way to monitor apple maggot flies is to hang yellow, rectangular sticky traps in your tree. The yellow color attracts flies over short distances and the flies become trapped by the sticky substance.

Public concern about the misuse and over-use of pesticides has led to the removal of most organophosphate insecticides, like Diazinon, to homeowners. One product homeowners may consider using for apple maggot and codling moth control is kaolin clay (sold as Surround, Surround at Home and other trade names). Kaolin products will suppress a broad range of insect pests that feed on apple leaves and apple fruit including both codling moth and leaf rollers.

The best thing home orchard enthusiasts can do to reduce both apple maggot and codling moths in next year’s crop is to pick up and place in plastic bags all infested fruit (windfalls) to prevent these two notorious pests from overwintering. Infested fruit should not be placed in the compost pile!