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Top 10 low-chill apple trees

The apple trees we grow today are descended from a species that originated in the mountains of central Asia. As a result most apple varieties need a period of cold winter weather, with temperatures around or just above freezing, as part of their annual life cycle. It is perhaps no surprise that the climate of most Old World countries with a history of growing apples - including England, France, and Germany - naturally meets this requirement, with long winters where apple trees rest in a state of dormancy. These are known as "high chill" climates, with, on average, at least 600 - 800 hours or more a year of temperatures in the range from 32F to 45F.

However if you live in southern California or many of the southern and western states, you might find average winter minimum temperatures only occasionally get down to freezing. Many apple varieties do not grow properly in these "low chill" climates because it disrupts their annual cycle.

Fortunately there are a number of well-proven "low chill" apple varieties which are able to grow reliably with less than 600 chill hours a year. If you live in USDA zone 9 or 10 - or you are in an area where citrus fruits are widely grown - then low-chill apple trees should give you the best results.

  • 1st Granny Smith

    See also Granny Smith

    If you want to grow apple trees but you can't remember the last time you saw frost on your lawn, Granny Smith should be your first choice. It needs only about 200-300 chill-hours - that's less than two weeks of cold weather.

    Granny Smith is also self-fertile, and an excellent pollinator of other apple trees. The apples have a tart flavor and store exceptionally well.

    Buy Granny Smith apple trees for california / south-west here
  • 2nd Anna

    See also Anna

    For those living in climates where winter doesn't really happen, Anna is a good choice. It needs only 200-300 chill-hours.

    Anna is related to Golden Delicious, and has a pleasant sweet / tart flavor. The apples ripen very early in the summer. In sub-tropical climates you might even get two small crops a year.

    Buy Anna apple trees here
  • 3rd Fuji

    See also Fuji

    Fuji is well-known for its superb sweet flavor. What is less well-known is that it only needs around 400 chill-hours, making it an excellent choice for growers in southern California or the southern states.

    Buy Fuji apple trees here
  • 4th Cripps Red

    See also Cripps Red

    Cripps Red comes from Australia and only needs around 400 chill-hours.

    Buy Cripps Red apple trees for california / south-west here
  • 5th Winter Banana

    See also Winter Banana

    Winter Banana is named for its faint banana-like flavor. It tolerates warm climates very well and only needs around 400 chill-hours.

    Buy Winter Banana apple trees here
  • 6th Cripps Pink

    See also Cripps Pink

    Cripps Pink is related to Cripps Red and is well-suited to low-chill climates. It needs around 500 chill-hours.

    Not surprisingly, it needs a long ripening season, but it is one of the best-flavored of all the apple varieties on this list.

    Buy Cripps Pink apple trees for california / south-west here
  • 7th Akane

    See also Akane

    Akane is a versatile apple, very easy to grow, with a sweet flavor, and only needs around 500 chill-hours.

    Akane is related to the popular English summer apple called Worcester Pearmain, and ripens in mid-summer.

    Buy Akane apple trees here
  • 8th Gala

    See also Gala

    Gala has a wide climate range and can tolerate low-chill climates down to around 500 chill-hours.

    It is of course available in any supermarket year round, but home-grown apples that can be left to ripen properly on the tree are likely to be superior to shop-bought examples.

    Buy Gala apple trees here
  • 9th Mutsu

    See also Mutsu

    Mutsu is a versatile dual-purpose apple, related to Golden Delicious, and suitable for moderately low-chill climates of around 600 chill-hours.

    Mutsu is not a good pollinator of other apple trees, but its blossom is particularly attractive.

    Buy Mutsu apple trees here
  • 10th Newtown Pippin

    The majority of low-chill apple varieties tend to be quite modern, but if you are looking for something more traditional, Newtown Pippin is worth considering, it needs around 600 chill-hours.

    Buy Newtown Pippin apple trees here

Click here for a list of low-chill apple trees in our catalog..