Lautz Apple Tree - Zone 3
Characteristics of the tree
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The Lautz apple is small to medium in size, and attractive in appearance: bright red all over, round and symmetrical. It has a firm, fine-grained and very juicy flesh. Its taste, although well-balanced tart-and-sweet, is initially not quite an explosion of flavour at the time of harvesting. This is because its sugars need time in storage to develop to their fullest. To taste Lautz at its sweetest and most flavourful, it is best to leave it in storage until at least late December, around three months after it is harvested. Lautz is delicious for fresh eating all winter long, but it also has several advantages for cooking. It has a small core that facilitates preparation; its white flesh is slow to oxidize; and it gives an ideal texture when cooked into pies, not becoming too mushy nor staying too firm.
Lautz is one of our best apples for winter storage: this fruit will continue to mature in storage for six months in a cool room, and is generally at its best between late December and February. Our notes on its storage are as follows: In October when harvested, the flavour is still not fully developed. In February, all the apples are very good in appearance and taste: no sign of mould or rot throughout the apple. The flesh is tender and juicy, flavourful and well-balanced between sweet and tart. In March it is still extremely well-conserved, firm and juicy with a mild flavour, the skin can be eaten with no problem, unlike the majority of apples which tend to develop a bad taste in the skin even when the interior is well-conserved.
Highly resistant to mildew and fire blight, the Lautz apple also has some resistance to Cedar apple rust. It is precocious, and will usually start producing fruit after 3 or 4 years (compared to five years for an average apple tree grafted on a standard rootstock). Lautz is well-known for its resistance to cold weather, growing well in zone 3.
Lautz is self-fertile, meaning it can produce fruit on its own, but you will have much better fruit production with a second apple tree nearby.
Discovered by Louis Lautz, and originating from his orchard, in La Crescent, Minnesota, the Lautz apple is in fact born from a limb sport of the Haralson variety. A limb sport is a mutation from one cell that leads to a branch with different characteristics from the original tree.
The Lautz apple is very similar to its parent, Haralson. The main differences are its brighter red color, its taste (a little bit sweeter) and earlier harvest (one week).
Haralson itself originated from the University of Minnesota Fruit Breeding Farm and was introduced in 1922. It was born from an open-pollinated seedling of Malinda. For many years, people thought that the pollinator had been Ben Davis. DNA studies undertaken in 2004 however proved Haralson to be a cross between Malinda and Wealthy.
Thirty years ago, Haralson was a well known commercial apple accounting for over 25% of apples grown in Minnesota.
Louis Lautz who operated the Lautz Orchard and discovered the apple named after him, died in March 2015. While no longer with us, the apple variety he discovered will certainly remain for a long while.
The apple trees we produce are grafted on standard-sized rootstock, so they are ‘full-sized’ apple trees (as opposed to dwarf or semi-dwarf). The life expectancy of this type of apple tree is around 100 years. The illustration shows different stages of its growth up until the age of 20 years (as one rarely plans a landscaping arrangement with a longer time period in mind). At 100 years old, the apple tree will be even larger than shown here – it can reach 7 m in height and spread over 9m – while the house might no longer exist!
You should note that this illustration is meant only to give a general indication of what you can expect, and the growth of your tree might look somewhat different. The development of a tree depends on the soil type, irrigation, fertilisation and climatic conditions. What we show here is based on our observation of observations of the growth of apple trees in zone 4, in rather poor soil. In zone 2, growth will probably be slower, while in a rich soil it would be faster.
All our apple trees are sold bare-root, without pots. They have been cultivated directly in our soil. Bare-root trees must be taken out of the ground and shipped during their period of dormancy, which is why we only ship trees in the spring. A big advantage with these kinds of trees, is that they take up very little space, and can therefore be easily shipped by mail all over Canada!
This photograph shows a 2-3-foot apple tree, just like one that you might receive. Depending on the height you choose at the time of purchase, the tree might be a little smaller (1-2 feet) or somewhat taller (3-5 feet.)
All our apple trees are grafted on standard-sized rootstock, which we grow ourselves at the nursery. Trees that are grafted on standard-sized rootstock will become full-sized apple trees (as opposed to dwarf, or semi-dwarf.) While the life expectancy of a dwarf apple tree is only about 20 years, full-sized apple trees such as those we propagate have a lifespan of around 100 years. We believe it is of the utmost importance to plant for future generations, which is one of the main reasons we prefer these kinds of trees.
Besides this, standard-sized apple trees also have many other qualities that set them above dwarf and semi-dwarf trees in our view. For example, their deep and well-developed root systems allow them to draw water from deep underground during periods of droughts. They are more vigorous and resilient, which in turn also makes them more disease-resistant. They are very hardy, and last but not least, much more productive!
To learn more about grafting and the role of rootstocks, see our article here!