What's wrong with our apple tree?

PeabodysJune 9, 2014

Hi
We have a big old apple tree in our garden that has always been healthy and given us big cooking apples but it has what looks like a serious problem.
We noticed two years ago that some of the bark was coming away and underneath were tiny, rice-like grains (look like bugs of some sort). There are some wood-worm looking holes in some areas too.
Last year a few tiny apples grew and fell quickly.
This year the tree blossomed a bit but we have no apples and the few leaves that came out are shrivelling and turning yellow and brown.
The bark on the lower half has been a rusty colour for a while too, not sure if that's anything to do with it.
I have searched some apple tree problems but can't find anything that matches ours, hopefully someone will recognise it?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

A big old tree with all the leaves turning brown is probably dying. There's not much that can be done unless the leaf loss is pest related and can be treated. Has it lost leaves other yrs?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 10:56PM
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Peabodys

No, it hasn't lost leaves before and it is old for an apple tree.
I'm concerned it has a pest due to the rice-like grains under the bark and that the bark is falling off.
It was fine up until two years ago, always had huge cookers on it. It seemed to start it's problem after the terrible wet weather in spring/summer 2012, not sure if it's related.
Will try to upload some photos.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 4:50AM
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Peabodys

This shows where the bark has come off

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 4:57AM
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Peabodys

This shows the woodworm-like holes, is this normal?!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 5:03AM
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Peabodys

And this is what it looks like now

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 5:04AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

It's normal for boring insects and disease to attack a dying tree. Without leaves it's dead or dying. Sorry to say I can't think of a positive outcome but I've been wrong many times before.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 8:45AM
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Peabodys

Thank you fruitnut, unfortunately I think you may be right.
The tree is around 100 years old (it was part of an orchard before our house was built which was some time between 1900-1910), so we know it is getting on a bit.
I have just read about how long they usually live so it has done well really.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 10:02AM
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alan haigh

I manage many apple trees well over a century old. If the tree suffered a sudden set back it is probably not related to senescence. Apple trees tend to die back gradually- at least here in the northeastern U.S.

Your tree doesn't even look any where near that old to me- it has the bark of a tree under 50, but as I say, I may manage hundreds of old apple trees, but they are all in the northeast with completely different conditions.

Haven't you had severe flooding fairly recently? Maybe the tree drowned during a long wet period. If you have heavy soil or any drainage issues this would be my first guess judging from the pictures.

If this is the case, the tree may surprise you and recover if conditions have returned to normal.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Peabodys

It does seem a bit sudden as we did have good apples growing until three or four years ago.
It is definitely over 100 years old, our house was built before 1910 (think it is actually 1902) and there was a huge orchard here before that (unless by chance the tree was actually planted after that time).
We did have a very wet summer two years ago and the problem did start from about that time.
Photo of the size of the tree

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 12:29PM
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Peabodys

And a photo of the bottom of the trunk

    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 12:31PM
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