Apple tree that never bears more than a few apples?

oldryderJune 21, 2012

I have a 5 or 6 year old apple tree (don't know the variety) that never has more than a handful of flowers on it.

There are crabapple and 1/2 dozen varieties of apple tree within a couple of hundred feet so pollination can't be the problem.

Other apple trees in the area seem to do fine.

Tree seems healthy. Tried fertlizing with urea last year didn't seem to help. (although it made the grass grow like crazy!)

This tree is one of 1/2 dozen or so in my lawn, not in an orchard. Tree is mulched about 3' across.

It's been pruned to an open center but it's also too tall and I plan on lowering it this winter. My guess is that it's on standard rootstock since it's much larger than my other trees. (I bought it at a big box before I became aware of rootstocks.)

If I can't figure this out I'll be cutting it down.

so - if you have an otherwise healthy tree that doesn't get many flowers (ever) what do you do?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It does sound like it's on a seedling root. If so I'd do just what you said, cut it down. If it's a variety you really want, bud it onto another root first.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:52AM
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I have a yellow delicious from a box store that I am guessing is on M7. It is about 5 years old now and has 3 apples on it. I think that it is possible that your tree just might be taking a while to start producing.

It might have hundreds on it next year.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 2:38PM
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alan haigh

Varieties vary widely in their precocity. It can take up to 8 years for some varieties on 111 and even M7 in my climate to begin really producing fruit. A lot depends on the soil as well. Richer soil can make a semi-dwarf behave like a full sized tree.

If you are impatient, around the time the other trees are in bloom, use your pruning saw to cut a half circle through the bark right to the wood on the trunk. Cut the other half of the circle a few inches up the trunk from the first cut. This scoring will probably bring about a good flower set for the next years crop.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Hi H-man,
Should I do what you suggested on my Honey Crisp? I bought it in pot in 2008. It must have been 3 yrs old tree then. I don't know the root stock. It probably is around 7 yrs old tree this year. It has grown well and healthy with little to no fertilizer. It has never flowered.

Or should I wait some more? Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:25PM
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alan haigh

If the tree has over a 3" diameter trunk and never flowered I'd probably do it. Honeycrisp isn't usually especially tardy.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 5:32AM
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"Patience, Grasshopper."

I've posted a few times about my Shipova that took years to start to flower. It had a few 2 years ago, a few more last year, and it would have had a good crop this year if they had not all frozen. I think it's about 12-13 years old now. Just takes a while for some trees.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 6:14AM
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I need to check the size of the trunk. It probably about 3" in diameter. It must be on a standard rootstock. I hope the tree was labeled correctly. I bought it from a reputable local nursery.

I may wait a year or two more. With my inexperience, I could turn scoring a tree to torturing or killing it!!!

It's quite frustrating waiting for this tree to fruit when my William's Pride has fruited since its 2nd year from a bare root plant.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 12:37PM
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alan haigh

The first time you worry about killing the tree, but when lightly cutting you can feel when you've hit wood. You could also do it with a sharp knife but cut away a bit less than a quarter inch of bark.

For central leader trees you can score the trunk above the first tier of branches to calm down the top and get it fruiting when that part of the tree is overly vigorous.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:04PM
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Thank you very much, H-man. I'll bookmark this suggestion for future use. I don't want tall tree so I made it open-centered.

I read everything you said about tree pruning, too. I've to admit sometimes it's over my head. I always appreciate your advice.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 10:28PM
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