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I am wanting to establish some more apple trees on my property, I have several older trees that have been great to hunt around but are 30-40 years old and deteriorating.

Going to be buying 5' trees this spring locally.

Questions:
Easiest to grow?
Fastest Growing?
Most disease and insect tolerant?
Most tonnage?

Should I plant in an Orchard type setting (Rows) or strategically sprinkled throughout the property?
I am in Michigan.

Thanks in advance.
 

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I had typed soemthing until I saw you are in Michigan, so I have no idea
 

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I’d recommend pears or crabapples over apple trees. Straight up apple trees are harder to care for. Ask me how I know. I know you asked about apples but sharing my experience.


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I’d recommend pears or crabapples over apple trees. Straight up apple trees are harder to care for. Ask me how I know. I know you asked about apples but sharing my experience.


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Totally agreed and most will drop before october. Best to get Asian pears and or crab apple variety that doesnt drop till late winter.
 

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I have 100’s+ of crabapples at my place in tree tubes, most can now be freed of that confine.
The deer activity around them was very apparent this weekend in the snow. Picked cleaned of the remaining shriveled apples to a surprisingly high height.
I have 3 dozen mature apple trees like those you referenced. On a good year, absent of a May hard frost, they still produce pretty well, but most of the apples are down before the first week of the season.
Take a ride out this Fall and check them out....bring your bow!
 

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Not to derail but to me the best wildlife tree is a Chinese chestnut for multiple reasons.


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I'm planning to plant several yellow delicious, a variety of crabapples, some pears, and several Dunstan chestnuts. Might put in a few Chinese chestnuts too. Also considering several other native berry shrubs to double as screening and browse.

I planted some Dunstan chestnuts already last year. I want a forest full of food.
 

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Northern Spy meet all your criteria and are great to eat. Don’t know about MI however. Our’s are in north MO.
 

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Enterprise, Goldrush, Liberty, Dolgo, and Rome are probably my best apple trees for wildlife. Very Disease tolerant, very little attention needed. Goldrush can be susceptible to Cedar apple rust, so if you have a lot of red cedars or junipers nearby omit Goldrush. I have always done mine in rows because of limited space. Stay away from Dwarf trees, they are too small and deer will beat them up. Cage every tree. Anything uncaged will be destroyed.
 

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I'd suggest visiting habitat talk forum. There are some really knowledgeable members with a ton of apple experience. I have been bitten a bit by the grafting bug. I have probably 30 trees to plant this coming spring. All of my trees are a bit young to bear fruit. I have been grafting known disease resistant varieties onto B118 or P118 rootstock. This will get me a tree that is about 80% of standard. With some real research you can spread out drop times to account for almost an entire bowhunting season. Crab apple varieties in general are easier to care for, but from my research a number of apple cultivars like Liberty, Enterprise, Empire, Franklin are pretty bullet proof and are completely suitable for a no spray just minimal pruning regiment.

I have had a lot of success buying trees for my house/hunting property from Cummins Nursery.
 

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Enterprise and Empire are great choices...don't need much attention once in the ground. I've witnessed too many break the bank, but not follow-up with the necessary elbow grease, resulting in money down the drain. Chinese chestnuts are the same way after they are established at say 3-6' all. I define established as at least 2 winters under their belt IN their permanent location.

Some here know that I have worked hard to help re-establish the American Chestnut. I have successfully grown 9 from seeds (what a chore - started with 80)...all 9 are roughly 3 feet tall now and planted in what I am hoping are their forever locations. I worked with an Eagle Scout and the West Chester University's Ag Department to help establish a small grove on the University research property and transplanted 30 to locations in South Coventry Township. There was a time when "the Coventry Townships (North, South, East), and West Vincent townships were littered with these trees and to be fair, some still exist in locations and people have no idea what they are. The blight came through and wiped many of them out and folks began replacing them with the Chinese which is almost fool proof. The differences are subtle and unless your looking for it specifically many will miss the distinction.

A friend is working to establish a grove of Dunstan's on his farm in KS...he has really done the work and I suspect in 2022 will be reaping some of the first rewards of his labor. I won't tell you what he paid, because you just might throw-up in your mouth ($5 per tree:oops:)...he found them on clearance, but did have to drive several hours to pick them up.

If I were to plant any one tree with the sole purpose of improving hunting (and yes, here are NUMEROUS health/nutrition advantages to a chestnut as well), it would be a chestnut tree, most likely Dunstan or Chinese, only because of their tolerance to blight, soil deficiencies, and temp swings....once established deer will travel through corn fields, apple orchard, grape vineyards to feed on them....I had the distinct pleasure, for 23 years, to have access to a unique property with two separate groves (6 trees in one, 9 in another)....it was about as amazing experience as you can have...took more than dozen folks to that property to get their first deer with a bow and almost every single one, scored their first trip out. We had a "kill" stand in the back grove in one of the Chestnuts, was a 2-man ladder, that was about a close to a guarantee at a shot under 20 yards as you could get. As the trees go older, they started dropping earlier in Sept, but in the regulated WMU's the season is open then....when the nuts are on the ground, all of the critters come out...
 

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Agree with wango on the chestnuts, and also look into sawtooth oaks for your area, if you're doing this for the deer and not just for apple pies. There are apples up on the farm in PA that have had apples hanging on them into November. Just don't know what variety they are.
 

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If you already have established trees, have you tried pruning and spraying as needed? That would get you the quickest results. As for establishing new trees, if you know what kind you have, and can get more, that's the route I would go. Fruit trees need care or they will not survive very long, or that's been my experience. I have a grove of small pear trees that make clusters of four. I think they are some kind of sand pear and are about the size of a golf ball. They drop from November through December and deer love them. I dug up sprouts and transplanted them, and they have done very well. Maybe you could dig up some sprouts from underneath your established apple trees and transplant them?
 

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A friend is working to establish a grove of Dunstan's on his farm in KS...he has really done the work and I suspect in 2022 will be reaping some of the first rewards of his labor. I won't tell you what he paid, because you just might throw-up in your mouth ($5 per tree:oops:)...he found them on clearance, but did have to drive several hours to pick them up.
I can attest to the expense, but it's worth it, IMO. In comparison to what I spend on plots & other stuff, it really isn't that bad. It may be more upfront cost than a plot, but over successive years the plots eat up a whole lot more cash. I like to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of trees each year.
 

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I can attest to the expense, but it's worth it, IMO. In comparison to what I spend on plots & other stuff, it really isn't that bad. It may be more upfront cost than a plot, but over successive years the plots eat up a whole lot more cash. I like to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of trees each year.
Agreed, providing its done right....buddy wasted about $1000 and several weekends planting his "orchard"..he was prescribing to the Field of Dreams phenomena - "If you build it they will come".... followed almost no plan or directions, all but three trees were dead inside of 20-months.
 

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I'm in Michigan as well, bought crabapples online from Northern Whitetail Crabs. Bought 12 last year and 11 survived. All fenced in of course, planted in 4 location, three in each spot on the edge of a food plot with southern sun.

 

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Agreed, providing its done right....buddy wasted about $1000 and several weekends planting his "orchard"..he was prescribing to the Field of Dreams phenomena - "If you build it they will come".... followed almost no plan or directions, all but three trees were dead inside of 20-months.
Ouch! That's a tough pill to swallow. I go into every adventure expecting some level of loss & failure. It's inevitable. The first year I planted chestnuts, it was 9 trees plus 3 hazelnuts. The hazelnut and two chestnuts survived the first year, and only the 2 chestnuts made it past the 2 year mark. I did every correct except caging them. Wildlife ate them down to nubs, then when the nubs sprouted new growth they ate it as well. If you're going to plant food for wildlife, expect wildlife to eat it!
 

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Cages are a #1 priority...we have a rough time the first year they fruit as we don’t build bear proof cages (lol). Have lost many to bears simply devouring them....be interested in your pears...you don’t know what breed?
 
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