By Bev Johnson

Master Gardener

The University of Minnesota has developed a new apple that should be in your local nursery next spring. Triumph -Malus MN80 PP3, 756- to be exact. Unlike SweeTango, which is so difficult to grow that only professionals can successfully grow it, Triumph has been developed for the home gardener.

Triumph is a cross between Honeycrisp and Liberty. It is a smaller apple, very attractive with some russeting near the stem. Russeting, a tan corky tissue on the skin of the apple, is caused by damage to the skin. It is cosmetic and doesn’t change the taste or hurt the apple. One great thing about this apple is that it has excellent resistance to apple scab, a fungal disease that crab apples are especially prone to. The flavor is “pleasantly tart and well balanced with a firm texture”. This is listed as a zone 4 tree but planted in an area protected from the North-West winter winds should do well here. She ripens in late September. About a week later than your Honeycrisp.

Like all apples, it needs a pollinator. If your neighbor has an apple tree, you probably won’t need one. Crab apples are excellent pollinator trees as they bloom for a long period of time. One apple tree to avoid for a pollinator for Triumph is the Golden Delicious, which isn’t hardy here anyway. To ensure pollination, get an apple tree that blooms close to the time the tree you want pollinated does.

Once you get your tree home, the next thing is to plant it properly. If it is potted dump it out and locate the root flare. You want to plant the tree with the first root only about 2 inches below the soil. Use the soil you excavated from the hole which should be about 1/3 wider than the root spread. You want a wide, not deep hole. As you fill, add a bit of water to prevent air holes. Now, holding the stem straight, stomp around the tree to compact the soil. This keeps the new tree from moving around. If you must stake, use 2 stakes one on each side of the tree and a soft, wide rope. Remove them next year. The tree needs to sway to strengthen the stem. Keeping it confined leads to a weak trunk. Don’t fertilize till next year. The tree needs time to get settled before you feed it.

Now to watering. A baby tree needs a lot to drink. Water her every day for the first 2 weeks. For the next 3 months, every 2 to 3 days then once a week unless it is hot and dry. Then as needed.  An easy way to water is to poke a few small holes in the bottom of a 5-gallon pail. Set it on one side of the tree and fill it. When empty, move to the other side and fill it again. This slow drip lets the water go deep and encourages the roots to follow. Or if you are a Martha type, there are watering bags that you wrap around a tree.  They do the same thing, however they look like a green trash bag to Petunia. She made Bunkey paint the 5-gallon buckets brown before she let him water their apple tree with it.

Use this system for all the trees you planted this spring. The result is a happy, deep- rooted tree that should last as long as you do.

Info about Triumph is from an article in the Northern Gardener Magazine by Debbie Lonee, the editor. This is an excellent magazine for any gardener. Try it you’ll like it.