Most of the apple crops produced in Georgia are grown in the north Georgia mountains. Ellijay, in Gilmer County, is known as the apple capital of the state. The state’s apple season can extend from July through December. The apple production of the state totaled 26 million pounds in 1997, with the produce valued at almost $3.8 million. There are an estimated 360,000 apple-bearing trees in Georgia.
The most popular varieties include Ozark Gold and Paulard (July and August); Red Delicious and Golden Delicious (July-December); Rome Beauty and Mutzu Crispin (August-December); Empire, Jonagold, and Jonathan (August-September); Arkansas Black, Fuji, Granny Smith, Stayman Winesap, and Yates (October-December).
Apples are not a difficult crop to grow and will thrive in a wide range of soil types, from sandy loam to sandy clay loam. Apple trees do not do well in poorly drained soil; the roots die, growth is stunted, and eventually the trees die. Soil should be tested before planting, because most fruit trees, including apples, grow best if the soil has a pH that is close to 6.5. Most of the soil in Georgia is too acidic, so lime must be incorporated into the soil before planting.
Rootstock influences tree size. Some growers prefer the standard tree; others like dwarf trees. Pruning is important to encourage maximum growth and fruit production.
Diseases common in Georgia apple trees are black rot, fire blight, scab, bitter rot, and alternaria. Insects that cause a problem for growers are apple tree borers, scales, aphids, fruit worms, and red spider mites.