Fruitless Apple

Connecticutian18July 4, 2014

I have 2 red delicious apple trees. They were both purchased and planted 2 years ago. Only one of them, however, has produced any fruit (6 apples last year and 3 this year). The fruitless one is growing amazingly (12 ft high) and had around 15 flowers this year but bone of those flowers turned into apples.

I recently started spraying both trees with an organic insecticide that also protects against apple rust.

Is there a problem with this tree? Is there a way to make it produce fruit?

Here is a picture of the tree.

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alan haigh

You can tie branches down to about a 65 degree angle to encourage earlier fruiting but the tree looks young. You should study training and pruning methods if you want an attractive and productive tree, the current form is not a promising beginning.

You need to decide on its permanent shape- probably either open center or central leader. It would have been better if you'd begun asking questions when you got the trees but apple trees are very cooperative to readjustments.

For a balanced central leader you'd need to really remove a lot of branches but with open center you could probably do OK by choosing 3 of your most vigorous branches and pulling them to a more horizontal position by using stakes and string. The trick will be doing so without splitting the branches from the trunk.

This is a problem because the largest branches are oversized and probably not well attached to the trunk as a result. If you are gentle and just bend a little at a time they should be fine though.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 5:25AM
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I don't know what insecticide you're spraying, but if you spray around bloom time it may be killing the bees you need to pollinate your fruit, and if you spray any other time, it might not be so effective against CAR.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:27AM
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Red delicious won't pollinate another red delicious. Furthermore is not delicious.

You need a 3rd tree. Do a little homework before choosing it. Best way is to visit a you pick orchard in yours area every week or two during the season and taste every apple and find what you like. Then make sure it will swap pollen with red del. Then buy it bare root next spring from a reputable online nursury. (stark, raintree, Adams CO, Cumming)

Also learn to graft and you can make those red del multi aplle trees.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 9:47AM
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alan haigh

cckw, the other apple has produced, so perhaps there's a crab or some other apple in the vicinity. Some do find RD delicious although my taste buds are in your camp.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 11:38AM
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Red Delicious has an annoyingly vertical growth habit that gets out of control vegetatively. Bringing the branches horizontal both controls that vegetative habit and also transitions them to a fruiting mode. When you pull them horizontal, lots of suckers will sprout up from the branch. Keep pinching those suckers back to three buds through the season, and they will form fruiting buds that will control both vigor an sucker growth.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:10PM
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Thank you everyone!

harvestman, there IS a crabapple in the area, so, cckw, pollination is not the problem. Also, I sprayed the insecticide after the flower bloomed.

harvestman and applenut, should I cut back all of the mini branches growing entirely vertical and bring their parent branches horizontal? I'm not quite clear on how to properly shape it.

thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:42PM
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Too young.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 1:42PM
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alan haigh

I've never developed spurwood by repeatedly cutting back small vertical pieces of this years wood- many varieties form flowers on that wood more readily if you leave it alone and continuous heading back can delay flowering, but I have read of the technique (for espalier training) and I expect Applenut has successfully put it to the test on RD. He's a reliable source of info, IMO.

A 65 degree angle will encourage fruiting without such an excess of uprights as would more horizontal spreading.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 10:03PM
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This is what you want it to look like, minus the holes in the leaves.

RD will resist this and try to revert back to a vertical bushy habit. One way to make a narrow crotch-angle spread out more is to prune it back with a slanting cut, almost to the trunk on the top and about 3/4" of wood on the bottom. The latent bud on the bottom of the branch will sprout a new shoot with a side branch angle, I'll attach a separate photo of this.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 10:15PM
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Here's what the cut looks like; I've heard it described as a "slanting Dutch Cut". Note the toothpick spreader to push the angle out additionally.

I use rebar tie wire cut into 18" lengths to pull the branches horizontal, with shephard's hooks on each end.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 10:18PM
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bhawkins(8A Dallas)

maybe should be smacked? ;-)

"A dog, a wife, a (insert your choice) tree,
The more you beat 'em, the better they be."

not my quote!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:49AM
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