My old eating apple tree

sjp123July 17, 2013

We have lived here for 27 years and have a lovely old apple tree which was here long before we were. Until now it has been fine, even though we do not give it much tlc. At the moment though it is looking awful, hardly any leaves, bare branches (it has had lichen on the branches for a few years now) also it has blossom on it - mid July. I do not know what variety it is, other than years ago I was told it was a very unusual old English variety, it has a thick, very deep red skin but the inside of the apple is white with pink veins running though, when stewed the apple pulp is pink. I would be most grateful for any advice on how to help this tree.

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megamav(5a - NY)

Try pruning the tree "open".
Meaning, it needs more air and light.
Take a look at this video and its 4 part series on how Stephen Hayes opens up an old apple tree similar to yours.
You should do this during dormant season, early spring, around February.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stephen Hayes Pruning Old Tree Video

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:08AM
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That's a beautiful old tree.

I think it's acting stressed right now. Make sure it's getting plenty of water. I'd also cut out any diseased wood now. I agree with Megamav on opening up the center this winter.

If you cut out major wood this winter be prepared to control the bushy growth that will follow in the spring. You might think about taking a dormant cutting to graft onto new rootstock in the spring, just in case your tree is in decline.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 11:37AM
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The watersprouts that pop up after pruning make good scions for grafting.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:25PM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

To begin, remove any dead or diseased wood right away. Then this winter, remove a total of about 1/3 of all the wood on the tree -- don't tip the branches but rather select a few branches and remove them entirely near the trunk. Don't worry, it won't kill the tree. New branches will grow quickly next summer as the root system is still strong so the tree will send up a lot of new vigorous shoots. Then next winter, remove another 1/4 to 1/3 of all the wood. Continue this process over the course of 3 or 4 years, so that you will be able to basically replace most of the wood in the tree, which should restore vigor and make the tree happy again. It might feel like you are butchering your tree, and it might look a little funny to you for a few years, but in time it will grow into a big happy tree again just as it was in past years.

I agree that Stephen Hayes and others do have some good videos on YouTube that will be worth checking out as well.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 3:43PM
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