Q. I am new to this climate and want to plant two apple trees in my yard; one for eating and one for cider. Do you have any experience growing Dabinett apple trees or other apples indicated for USDA zones 4 - 6 in this climate? I ask because I want apples that produce the right kind of fruit.
A. All apple tree varieties will grow here. Many will even produce fruit here. But there are only a few that will produce high quality fruit here. There is a concept in wine production called “terrior”.
Picking the right terrior is the reason why some wine grapes are better suited to specific agroclimatic regions than others. For instance, in Las Vegas we focus on the “warm climate reds” and a few warm whites, with cool season wine grapes not producing the right balance of acids and sugars. Of these “warm climate reds”, it is still too hot for the best quality.
The same concept, terrior, applies to fruit quality and apples. First off, our hot desert location is not the best for apples to begin with. It is better suited to apricots, peaches, plums and their relatives. However, it is BEST suited to pomegranates, figs and dates.
There are only a handful of apples I would recommend for this climate regarding flavor. Some produce here better than others and still others produce better fruit than most. I would recommend finding an apple that grows well here AND produces quality fruit that you like.
Otherwise, what you are doing is experimental and chances are most will not produce the fruit quality you would like. There is a possibility some might but chances might be slim.
Regarding Dabinett, an English variety, you are taking a risk. Don’t get me wrong. I love this kind of risk but be aware of the downside in trying. Be aware of, particularly with apples, it may take 3 to 4 years before you get decent fruit.