Dwarf apple trees are quaint, compact, and manageable. Unlike a standard apple tree, you can plant a dwarf apple tree in a container or a small corner of your backyard.
However, being small doesn’t mean that the tree won’t have fruits, although when exactly the tree will produce apples and for how long hinges on many factors.
How long do dwarf apple trees produce? You can expect your dwarf apple tree to keep producing fruits for the entirety of its life. This can vary by cultivar, but once the tree establishes and flowers, you will have between 10 and 20 years of annual harvests until the tree reaches the end of its life.
That said, the quality of the yield every year might differ wildly depending on the growing conditions and the level of care the dwarf apple tree is getting.
Read more to find out what kind of harvest to expect and why the tree sometimes stops producing fruits.
If you have lots of questions about apple trees, my article, Common Apple Tree Questions, has the detailed answers you need.
Dwarf Apple Tree Production
The production of a dwarf apple tree doesn’t compare to that of a standard apple tree for obvious reasons. Still, you still get plenty of apples every year for a small tree that doesn’t put you out in terms of care and maintenance.
What’s more, with a little know-how, you can boost your average dwarf apple tree yield easily.
How Long Does It Take for a Dwarf Apple Tree To Bear Fruit?
Dwarf apple trees have a fast growth rate and reach maturity a lot quicker than regular apple trees.
On average, you can expect your dwarf apple tree to flower and bear fruits between 2 and 3 years after planting it. On the other hand, a standard apple tree could take from 8 to 10 years before it starts producing fruits.
Dwarf Apple Tree Yield
Relative to its size, the dwarf apple tree can produce between 40 and 160 pounds of apples every year. Some dwarf apple cultivars have higher yields than others.
Semi-Dwarf Apple Tree Yield
Semi-dwarf apple trees have yields somewhere between the dwarf types and the standard trees.
You can expect many semi-dwarf apple varieties to produce 200 to 400 pounds a year. This is compared to some standard apple varieties’ 800 pounds a year.
Average Age Fruit Production Stops With Dwarf Apple Trees
Once the dwarf apple tree matures and starts producing fruits 2 to 3 years after planting, it will keep producing apples for the rest of its life. There’s no set age when the tree will stop fruit production.
If you don’t get fruits one season, something is wrong with the tree or the growing conditions.
Dwarf Apple Tree Not Producing – 7 Reasons Why
Under ideal growing conditions, the dwarf apple tree will flower and bear fruit every year like clockwork, but as every gardener knows, growing conditions such as the weather and diseases are less than predictable.
When your dwarf apple tree stops producing, look for one or more of the following reasons.
1. Age of Tree
While the dwarf apple tree is known for its fast growth rate and the ability to reach maturity before its semi-dwarf and standard counterparts, the tree will still need between 2 and 3 years to start producing fruits.
If your tree is not producing, it’s probably too young. Give it time, and see if it will flower next year.
2. Lack of Sufficient Chill Hours
Dwarf apple trees need cold temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit during winter to flower and bear fruits the next spring.
Depending on the variety of dwarf apple you have, you could need anywhere between 300 and 500 chill hours every year.
If you happen to have a warm winter and the tree doesn’t get this many chill hours, it won’t flower or produce fruits the next season.
3. Poor Pollination
The tree relies on pollinators like bees and butterflies to pollinate its flowers. If it happens to be too cold, wet, or windy for the pollinators to be out, the flowers will go unpollinated, which means no fruits this year.
4. No Other Varieties Nearby
Some dwarf apple trees are not self-pollinating. That means you won’t get any fruits if you only have one tree in the garden.
You need different dwarf apple varieties within 50 feet of your tree to get the flowers pollinated. Even if your variety is self-fertile, having another variety nearby will improve fruit set.
5. Freezing Temperatures During or After Flowering
A sudden cold spell or unpredictable weather conditions during the flowering season could prove detrimental to the buds, flowers, and immature fruits.
The frigid temperatures will impact pollination, and they could kill the flowers and/or developing fruit.
6. Weak or Diseased Tree
Dwarf apple trees are prone to the same diseases as standard and semi-dwarf types.
Diseases like collar rot, apple rust, black rot, powdery mildew, and apple scab can impact the fruit production of the tree or even stop it. Check for signs of these diseases, and apply suitable treatment.
The same goes for pest infestations such as apple maggots, apple tree borers, codling moths, plum curculio, and San Jose scale. The pests can weaken the tree, which impacts the flowering and fruiting processes.
Treat the pests with neem oil (I use organic, cold-pressed neem with great success) or other pesticides.
7. Vigorous Growth
Every tree has limited resources. If the dwarf apple tree spends most of its resources and energy on growing branches and leaves, there will be little left for flowers and fruits.
Don’t over-fertilize the tree, don’t use high-nitrogen fertilizers, and don’t prune it too aggressively.
How To Increase Production of Dwarf Apple Trees
Here are a few simple tips to help boost the productivity of your dwarf apple tree.
- Don’t prune the tree aggressively as growing back consumes a lot of the tree’s energy.
- Use a balanced fertilizer, and apply it in the early spring.
- Make sure other apple varieties are within 50 feet of the dwarf apple tree for cross-pollination.
- Use mulch to keep the root system cool during the summer months.
- Ensure that the tree is getting between 300 to 500 chill hours in the winter.
- Choose a variety suitable for your Growing Zone and microclimate.
- Look out for signs of diseases, and treat them accordingly.
- Prune the tree every year, but don’t cut more than one-third of its foliage.
- Water the tree regularly and deeply.
How Big Do Dwarf Apple Trees Get?
Dwarf apple trees are compact and manageable. At maturity, they reach between 8 and 10 feet tall and the same in width.
This compact size makes them ideal to grow in small places or even in planters. With regular and judicious pruning, you can manage the tree’s size.
How Long Do Dwarf Apple Trees Live?
Dwarf apple trees don’t have a long life span. Depending on the variety, they can live from 10 to 20 years. However, diseases, pests, and adverse growing conditions can kill the tree before its time.
Dwarf apple trees are quite productive. They mature within 2 to 3 years after planting, which is faster than standard apple varieties.
Once they start producing fruit, you can expect to harvest delicious apples every year.
However, adverse growing conditions such as over-fertilizing, over-pruning, lack of chill hours, diseases, or poor pollination can impact or even prevent the tree from fruiting.
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