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I’ve planted the following apples/crabs. All on b118, emla 111 or ant rootstock.
Kerr
Liberty
Enterprise
Galarina
Crimson crisp
Chestnut crab
Goldrush
Dolgo
All winter hangover
Crimson gold.

the easiest to grow have been chestnut crab, liberty and galarina
 

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Kieffer. I've planted several different pears and so far those seem to be healthy, produce well, and last well into November. I really want to find some Sweet Advents, too.
Deer eat yours?
I had a couple, they produced real well, but my deer ignored them.
 

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Most of this has been mentioned but I'll repeat. Crabapples are a winner. Protect the trunks as they are getting established. If you spread the trees out, you're also spreading out the deer, not that it would necessarily be a bad thing.
 

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Deer eat yours?
I had a couple, they produced real well, but my deer ignored them.
Yes they did, but the jury is still out. My trees aren't large enough or produce enough fruit yet to really know. But so far they seem to like them.
 

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In the last few years I've planted 14 apple trees, Fireside, Zestar, Kindercrisp, Honeycrisp, Red Regent, Haralson, State Fair. The Kindercrisp and Zestar seem to grow a lot faster than the rest at my place in northern MN. Remember most apple trees need full sunshine to prosper. I'm going to have to cut some mature trees in the area pretty soon to keep the sunshine shining on the orchard. I was planning on planting another 6 this spring but after last years drought I think I'm going to just stay at 14. Had to run a hose a long way to keep the new trees watered. No way they would have made it without the help. The ones that had been in the ground for a couple years already probably would have been fine but I helped them out too.
 

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I never had any luck with the Keiffers, the deer would pass them up for just about anything else...now the Pineapple and the Sugar Pear trees, well that's another story. They weren't easy to establish and WHEN I do them again, they will stay in a pot until they are 4-6' tall before transplanting them...but the deer seemed to hammer them...the real problem with them is that they fruit in mid-late August.....BUT...I have witnessed deer leaving standing corn and soybeans to feast on the pears....bear hammer them too. They are both self-fertile, but the pineapple produces faster and heartier if there is a pollinator within 100-200 feet...I have been looking into the Bosc and Okusankichi pears, as they both ripens mid Sept-Oct.

I am always of the mindset when planning to provide something they don't have...if I am surrounded by soy, I am not planting any beans or peas, if there are crababbapples all around, I'm looking into chestnuts, pears and even honeysuckle. I can tell you that while honeysuckle can be a pain, when planned properly can provide a tremendous boost to your place. I have found this to be particularly true in newly timbered areas. What I will do is literally crawl into the tops that are often left behind and plant the honeysuckle plants along the trunk and heavy branches. Yes, it grows quickly and is very invasive, but when I have taken the approach mentioned above, the plants tend to take over the deadfall, turning what quickly becomes useless (other than cover/bedding - both of which are improved with the honeysuckle) into highly desirable browse and heavier cover. It also is a little easier to manage as you an see it begin to spread beyond he deadfall (which may not be a bad thing depending on your property and and what you are trying to accomplish). I do use the more invasive Japanese variety, primarily because it grows very quickly and requires very little attention once planted. Once it starts to take a foothold you will want to monitor it as to help maintain it to meet your needs...just something else to think about.
 

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I am always of the mindset when planning to provide something they don't have
That's the best thing my place has going for it. The closest ag is 2 miles away & requires crossing a not insignificant river. On our side of the river, there are no crops for 5 miles. Big steep hills with mature hardwoods. Aside from my place, the most anybody else in the immediate area does is set up feeders when season nears.

Funny you mention honeysuckle. My brother wants to plant some on his place. We've been reluctant because of the invasive nature of it. Is it reasonably controllable?
 

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No apple expert but planting things strategically would be the best option to hunt over them, though apple trees may do better in an orchard?
 

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Is it reasonably controllable?
That depends...there are a couple varieties, the Japanese is the most invasive and aggressive, but in my experience it is also the fastest growing and most desirable to deer. When I started planting it in the manner that I detailed above, I have certainly found it to be reasonable to manage. Although it grows fast and is rather invasive, most of that growth takes place in and throughout the treetop. The vines overtake the top and as you see them starting to spread a quick pruning and you're good. Keep in mind, while it grows quickly, you are still planning on a few years before any pruning is needed when planted in a dead-fall. Wildlife will spread it as they visit, but have never had an issue with it being out of control because of that....if you research though, you will find severl mentions of it spreading in that way (birds, bees, mammal droppings, etc..) I would not plant it in my yard or garden, I'd choose a different variety.

Some of less invasive species, slower growing and, in my experience, not AS desirable to deer are:
Trumpet honeysuckle - great for hummingbirds
Brown’s honeysuckle
Winter honeysuckle
Woodbine

The deer will hit all of it, but it seems the Japanese draws more in and holds them longer - not sure exactly why - at least here in SE PA. Turkey love it too
 

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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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This has been my experience as well. Apple trees are much more work and not as disease resistant. I have Kieffer and Doc's special pears and the deer love them both.
 

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Joe, I’d recommend you order some pears from bluehill wildlife nursery. I think he’s sold out for this coming spring
 

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Dunstan Chestnut
Deer pear

Same orchard...

Chestnut hill outdoors..

Bought maybe 50 Dunstans since 2018, only ever paid full price for 2.

Rest were 7-10$ per tree.... bought at the end of summer on clearance at local big box stores.

I've also planted American and Chinese chestnut and a pile of sawtooth oaks..

Chestnuts will pull more deer than apples any day.
 

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how far north will chestnut varieties grow?
I tried in zone 6 but they didnt make it because my soil is mostly clay and the trees never came back after the first winter. They definitely need a well drained location
 

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I second going into habitat talk. Lots of good info there. And I recommend whatever your willing to spend on trees take half of that and spend it on good fencing. Nothing worse than planting a ton of trees that get eaten to the ground by deer because u went for the cheap chicken wire. My first year planting. I planted way to many trees. Went cheap on cheap fencing and chicken wire for the fence. Most of the trees I planted were eaten by deer. It takes a decent amount of time to put one in the ground and get good fencing around it. Looking back I wish I would have put a few trees in per year and did it rt instead of what I did my first year
 

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I planted my trees in Illinois. I like dolgo crab apples. arkansas black apple. And pear trees seem to do better on my dads farm. We also planted a bunch of chestnuts. Last year was the first year we had any produce. It gets addictive. Can't even tell u all the different nut trees we've planted
 

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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...

$5 per Dunstan chestnut tree is cheap. Only way to get cheaper is to do them from seed.

My brother and I sell trees as a side-business, we mostly sell Dunstans and sell them for $20-25 (plus shipping) online regularly for trees less than 24" tall.
 

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Believe it or not certain Walmarts sell Dunstans...they often sit there for most of the season listed $18-$22, toward the end of the season they unload at $5 a pop. It's not the ideal planting time and you're dealing with a potted tree that sat on the curb for a couple of months but at a cost/value ratio of 1:4, its worth the risk....very hard to find them though...
 
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