Apple Fruit Guide

Round, crisp, firm fruit growing on spur branches. Apples can be red, yellow, green, or a blend of these colors when ripe. They can taste sweet or tart.

How to Care for Apple Trees


Prune apples in late winter/early spring before blossoms set to remove dead or damaged material, water spouts, and root suckers, and to maintain the desired shape. We offer fruit tree pruning January through March in Salt Lake County.


Fertilize yearly in the spring when the trees are in bloom. We offer compost tea fertilizing for fruit trees and gardens. Compost tea has many benefits, some of which are improved plant growth and increased nutrient retention.


Apples often set more fruit than they are capable of properly maturing. Thinning improves fruit quality and influences the next year’s apple crop. Apples should be thinned about 4-6 weeks after full bloom, before buds for the next year are produced. Apple trees produce next year’s flowers at the same time young fruit is developing, and because of this, trees that are not thinned may produce little to no fruit every other year. We offer fruit tree thinning in April and May in Salt Lake County.


Young trees need extra water to grow, while all fruit trees need additional water during periods of hot, dry weather—much like those we experience on the Wasatch Front in the warmer months. Thoroughly soak the soil around your fruit trees every other week. Mulching around the base of your tree can help retain soil moisture as well.


Apples can be most easily picked by grasping the apple, tilting it horizontally, and twisting it to detach it from the branch.

Apples are ready to be harvested when…

  • The seeds inside will turn dark brown.
  • The flesh of the apple will turn from greenish to a lighter, whitish shade.
  • The base color will change from green to yellow or green to red.
  • Mature apples will pull easily from branch when lifted and twisted.
  • Falling apples is NOT necessarily an indication that they are ready to be harvested! Apples may fall due to a lack of water. Be sure to cut open an apple and look at the seeds to determine readiness.

Schedule a Harvest with Us!

A good time to schedule a harvest is when the apple seeds have turned dark brown. We cannot harvest if...

  • The load is too low. Must be at least 200 pounds of fruit.
  • The fruit is overripe (the fruit will have a mealy texture or will be overly soft and bruised) and will not transport or store well.
  • The fruit is far too underripe. The seeds must have turned dark brown to be harvested.

Disease & Pest Control

Codling Moth


Codling moths are a major pest for Utah apples. Larvae tunnel into the core of the apple, where they mature, causing both surficial damage and damage to the core of the apple. Apples impacted by coddling moths are considered B-grade and can still be eaten fresh or processed into products such as pie filling, sauces, and ciders. For more information regarding codling moths, click here.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is a bacterial disease that impacts apples and pears, causing the leaves, blossoms, and shoots to take on a scorched appearance. Leaves may wilt and curl under as well. Infected branches can be carefully pruned from the tree (12 inches from the injury) to limit the spread of the disease. Fire blight can impact the current year’s apple crop as well as threaten the life of the tree and other trees in the area. For more info on fire blight, click here.

Storage Tips

  • Leave apples at room temperature to let them ripen fully. Apples can be stored in colder places for a long time.
  • Apples emit a gas called ethylene, which can cause other produce to ripen faster. Bruised or damaged apples release higher quantities of ethylene and can cause the entire batch to ripen or rot quicker, so separate damaged apples.
  • Apples can also be dehydrated, frozen, or canned. For more information on storing and preserving apples, click here.
    • Eating apples: crisp, crunchy, juicy apple varieties such as Fuji, Gala, or Red Delicious.
    • Cooking apples: firm, tart apples that hold their shape in high heat, including Golden
      Delicious, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauties.
    • All-purpose apples: Braeburn, Jonathan, McIntosh, and Pink Lady.

There are over 7,000 varieties of apples grown worldwide. This list contains some of the more common varieties of apples grown in the United States.

Join the volunteer team!

We love our volunteers and would love to have you join us! There are many ways you can volunteer–from picking fruit to helping in a garden to sitting on a committee.