Apples cracking due to heavy rains

bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)June 22, 2013

Recently (the week before last), we got a lot of rain (just under 7" in a 7 day period). Earlier this week I noticed that some of my apples have cracked and started to rot.

At first, I thought it was due to the bags. It seems that when I applied them, I cut off the corners, but didn't puff the bags out. So, while the corner is cut off, since the bag is still closed, there is no water draining through the cut. I started to go through the process of puffing out (separating the plastic) in my ~250 bagged apples. As
I went through the trees, I started to notice a pattern. It seems that almost all the cracked apples were on M27 rootstock.

Of my M27 trees, Hudson's Golden Gem (in ground), Red Boskoop (in ground), and Karmijn De Sonnaville (potted) were all badly cracked (more than half the apples on each tree). The only apples on M27 without any cracking were Akane (which surprised me, as Scott has mentioned that this one gets skin problems) and a potted Ashmead's Kernel (though it may just be a M27 rootstock, as it grew back from the graft union- hopefully I'll know this fall).

While I bagged most apples, I left a few out as backups and I noticed that the one un-bagged apple on those trees also had a large crack (it just hadn't rotted yet).

I have 15 fruiting non-M27 trees on dwarf rootstocks. Of those, there was a total of 1 cracked apple, on Egremont Russet. Has anyone else noticed excess cracking from M27? Is it just the smaller crop load on these trees that encourages cracking (none had more than 8 apples)? Or, maybe those 3 varieties just happen to be most susceptible...

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alan haigh

I believe in your climate you can remove the bags now anyway. I finished spraying more than 2 weeks ago and will not need any future applications to get apples on scores of home and estate orchards throughout NY and CT- unless something unprecedented comes up.

Too bad about those apples, hope most of your crop is still intact. Rain was not problem for apples not in plastic in our region. Lost the cherry crop, though, and I'm seeing some isolated brown rot on stone fruit that wouldn't be their in a more normal season (it such a thing exists).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 2:31PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'm seeing a million leaf issues with my apple trees... I just started pruning the heck out of them... Still the apples look great (the ones the PC didn't hammer). Some of mine are the size of a half dollar at this point. Really need to keep my apples better maintained. Not sure what you can do about cracked apples...just hope that this is a one time event.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 2:59PM
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alan haigh

I should have mentioned that the reason I brought up all the orchards I spray was to assure you that pest pressure is probably over for apples in your area and that's why removing the bags is pretty safe.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 3:25PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

The total percent lost wasn't bad, as the trees on M27 rootstocks weren't carrying that many fruit. Looking at my bag counts, the 4 largest trees (all 3rd leaf) have 2/3 of the 250 bagged apples (William's Pride, Goldrush, Priscilla, and Sweet 16). None of those 4 had a single cracked apple. The largest fruit at the moment are the William's Pride and Liberty, which are both just over 1 3/8" (close to the size of yours, Frank). I've attached a picture of a William's Pride, which as you can see still has some trapped water.

Leave's haven't been too much of a problem, though early on I found (and smushed) a lot of the little worms which were eating leaves (leafrollers?). A few of them (I think it was them) also ate big holes into the tiny apples.

The only problem from the cracking is that I may need to wait a year to try those 3 apples, as at least 2 of the trees are down to 1 good apple (4-5 total, after starting with ~16). But, I'm still pretty excited to taste all the other apples. Last year I had 3 kinds, while this year I'm hoping for more than a dozen.

Thanks Harvestman. Do you think your spray schedule works because your early spray pushes down the populations, freeing you from 2nd/3rd generations? Or is it just that most of the pressure is from PC, which doesn't usually have a 2nd generation? Based on the Cornell site, I figured I would still need to fend off Codling Moth, Apple Maggot, and Oriental Fruit Moth.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 4:13PM
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Local data is needed wrt to pest pressure. Here in Northern IL, according to the state extension service, codling moth pressure is just beginning.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 4:49PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Yes, while Cornell is in the same part of the country, Harvestman is definitely local, as I'm in southern Fairfield county. In fact, I'm probably pretty close to some of those estates he maintains (though my house/yard is much more ordinary).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Hman is certainly a source I'd trust.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 7:15PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Ltilton, sorry for any confusion- I definitely trust Harvestman's advice as he's not only local, but one of the most experienced forum members. While we're in the same area, the trees aren't necessarily in the same situation, as I haven't sprayed at all. Since this could impact the results (reduced population, residual effectiveness, etc), I wanted to see if Harvestman had an opinion about whether that would matter.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 9:23PM
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alan haigh

Bob, I started handling the spraying of orchards as part of my business about 20 years ago. At first Cornell had me terrified about how many sprays would be necessary to get sound fruit but at U Mass a man named Prokopy was experimenting with a low spray approach to producing apples and suggested that adequate control might be achieved with two applications of Phosmet (Imidan).

At first I thought multiple generations of PC would do me in or later invasions of apple fly maggot or coddling moth.

I've yet to have an issue with AFM and coddling moth doesn't usually ruin very much fruit at sites I manage- there are varieties that make an exception to this..

I've come to the conclusion that larger stands of apples- a commercial orchard- functions like a beacon bringing in pests from a wider area but all I have is a theory. The important thing is that what I've been doing has worked.

As far as your excellent question, and just the kind of thing that would keep me up at night, I don't know. You will have to risk at least some fruit to find out. The fact that you thought of it indicates that you will puzzle the issue out and develop you own methods.

I know that protecting fruit is a lot easier when you have a tree full of it and not just a few fruit. My beacon theory doesn't apply here- ;you do need to offer a few fruit for sacrifice and a handful of fruit usually seems to get ruined, even if you only have a handful on the tree- at least with apples.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 10:29PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Thanks Harvestman. I'll strip the bags off a portion of the 4 main trees. They've got enough apples that a few lost won't make a big difference. In a way, it may help protect some apples, as last year I had some sun-scald of bagged apples (even Goldrush, which seems pretty tough). I didn't lose too many, but some of the apples with good southern exposure got zapped. So the bags really trade one risk for another.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2013 at 11:44PM
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alan haigh

I think Goldrush is also more insect resistant than most. Maybe expose something earlier and softer if you can, as such apples seem more attractive to insects. I often harvest some sound Goldrush from unsprayed trees.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2013 at 6:32AM
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