A survey of selection preferences for crabapple cultivars and species
Crabapples (Malus spp.) are frequently planted ornamental trees throughout the upper United States. However, selections differ in growth habit, disease tolerance, and fruit litter. A survey questionnaire was received by 1,810 members of state nursery and landscape associations and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) in 13 states. The objectives of this study were to assess crabapple preferences across the United States, and to investigate whether regional disease problems are responsible for crabapple inventories in green-industry businesses. States represented in the survey were Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Five hundred and eleven (28.2%) of the survey questionnaires were returned. Most respondents (79.4%) noted their retail customers most often emphasized flower color. 'Prairifire', 'Snowdrift', and 'Spring Snow' were identified as the most popular selections across all regions. The central region respondents selected 'Red Splendor' the most for attracting or feeding birds (39.7%) and second-most when tree size was not an issue (25.4%). The west-central region selected 'Spring Snow' (48.7%) when tree size was not important due apple scab being less frequent. Apple scab was ranked the most frequently reported disease problem in all regions except west central where fire blight was identified. 'Radiant' and 'Royalty' were noted as the most frequently discontinued. Most respondents (71.5%) cited disease problems as the primary reason for discontinuing a selection. We conclude that these results can be used to help nursery and landscape professionals, extension specialists, and retail consumers choose crabapple selections that possess superior fruit, flowers, disease resistance, or growth habits.