There is great joy and satisfaction in growing and eating one’s own fresh and home grown produce. Consider how wonderful it would be to be able to walk out into your garden and pick out fresh fruit to bake into an apple pie. However growing fruit is trickier than just planting a tree and waiting for it to bear fruit.
Typically one apple tree will need the proximity of another apple tree of a different type to help pollinate it and produce fruit. This is because the pollen from one flower is required to be transferred to another to produce fruit. So if you decide that you want to grow your own apples at home, it is advisable to have one tree of say, the Red Delicious variety as well as a Fuji apple variety.
What is a self pollinating apple tree?
Apple trees of many varieties are what is known as ‘self incompatible’ – this means that they need to be cross pollinated. This is why orchardists will usually have different varieties of apple trees in the same areas; often alternate rows of compatible types. If you don’t have the space to grow two trees, however, you would need to use a self pollinating apple tree; also known as a self fruitful tree.
A self pollinating apple tree is one that has more than one variety of apples grafted into the tree. These are also sometimes referred to as Apple Fruit Cocktail trees because they are actually two or more tree varieties in one.
It has to be remembered however, that even the so called self fruitful trees will have a poorer yield than two trees growing side by side. More than one tree for pollination is the best way to increase yields substantially. Cross pollination will always produce the best results.
How to choose self pollinating apple trees
According to horticultural experts, some apple tree varieties are self fruitful. Rome Apples, Empire Apples, Golden Delicious and Gala apple varieties are supposed to be self fruitful however cross pollination will still produce better and higher yields of fruit.
To understand what cultivars are compatible pollinators with what other cultivars you can refer to Washington State University’s guide to pollination of fruit trees. A chart here lists cultivars such as Akane, Breaburn, Courtland, Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Lodi, McIntosh, Red Delicious Spartan, Red Gravenstein, Yellow Transparent and more and tells us which cultivars they are compatible with.