“Low-Chill” Not Always Good


Braeburn is blossoming profusely in early April, which means that it can be considered a low-chill apple.  I’m afraid this is not good, as it means that it will be ripening too early, during our late summer heat, and Braeburn does not do well ripening with hot nights.  Some will achieve great size but turn black and rotten on the inside while still green, and others will ripen but be flavorless and mushy.  A few late blooms will ripen in fall when the weather is cooler, but still not be as great as this variety can be.  I may cut it off and topwork some other variety onto it next year.

Southern California gardeners are encouraged to plant low-chill apple trees, and I believe this is a mistake.  “High-chill” apples take longer to blossom (and every apple, not matter how high of chill, will eventually blossom) which makes them ripen in our early winter, which has perfect weather for developing flavorful, crisp apples.  This is why late-blossoming apples requiring long seasons like Terry Winter, Pink Lady, Fuji, and Sundowner do so well here and surpass those grown in a colder climate.

Some apples like Hawaii and Williams’ Pride do fine ripening in summer, but Braeburn, like Golden Delicious, are best in a cooler climate.


One Response

  1. Sorry to hear Braeburn doesn’t like hot summers. I’m hoping for better results with Pink Lady and have been getting good Granny Smith and Molly for years. (SF Valley, Sunset zone18).

    Now I’m pushing the other direction, planting avocados here on the valley floor where the winters can get a little chilly.

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