Apple Tree

jaybeedieJuly 28, 2014

I am new to this forum and relatively new to gardening!
My wife and I had moved into our new home at the beginning of the year, with quite a garden to it. So I thought I would leave it for the first year, to see what grows and where.
We have a nice mature apple tree in the garden, which pardon my ignorance, I would have thought would be very green leaved at this time and have a fair bit of fruit on it as we are enjoying a good period of hot weather. I noticed a couple of months ago the apples growing on the buds, but now the majority seem to have already fallen out of the tree and all seem to have some marks on them, and some of the leaves also have marks/holes in them. Is this normal? Will an apple tree tend to flower/fruit much later on in the year?
I didn't know if it had something to do with this plant which was growing round the bottom of the tree that was sucking away any moisture that should have been going to the roots?
Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.

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A tree that size will not be significantly botherd by a small amount of vine like that growing at it's base, so that's definitely not the problem. Apple trees need care. They MUST be sprayed.
Beedie, it would be helpful if you filled out your information so everyone can see what zone your in etc.
How about a photo of the top of the tree? I'm wondering if it's not a flowering crab (ornamental) as opposed to a fruiting variety. How big were these apples that dropped? Did you see the tree in bloom?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:29AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

The OP is in the UK. The plant at the bottom of the tree, if not part of the ivy on the fence, looks like an Epimedium. In which case it will not climb the tree.

The recent hot spell will make the foliage rattier rather than greener as we have had much less rain than usual this summer. There is also a phenomenon know as 'June drop' when fruit trees shed a quite a number of small fruits. it doesn't hurt them and it allows the remaining fruit to grow bigger. However, this year I have noticed quite large fruit falling and I suspect this is due to the heat. US readers will laugh when I refer to the temperatures we've been having - it's been up to 25c (77f) where I live. However, our fruit trees are not used to it.

BTW there is no MUST about spraying. It depends on what you want from the tree. If it is an old Bramley, which is quite likely, it will probably produce more fruit than you know what to do with even if you never spray it.

It will flower next year in the spring. It won't flower again this year.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 2:37PM
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Thanks for the comments.

I will get a couple more pics and post on here.

When you say about spraying, what part of the tree would you spray? Sorry for what would seem a silly question but I have read some where that you shouldn't water the trunk, as I think it can pick up diseases or something.....I have watered around the base a couple of times (out to the limit of where the tree extends). Or am I thinking I should spray the leaves?

Thanks for your input though :)

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:30AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

By 'spraying' Appleseed70 is referring not to water but to chemical pesticides and fungicides. Despite the recent hot spell we've had, a mature apple tree in a British garden is highly unlikely ever to need watering.

Water on the trunk will not have any effect at all. How could it considering what happens when it rains?

If you can show us some fruit it would be handy. But I really don't think there is anything out of the ordinary going on here.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 3:18PM
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appleseed70 floral said, I meant spraying insecticide and fungicides. I didn't realize you were in the UK. Depending on your locale it may be true that some pest pressures are lower than some places in the states, like here in my state of Maryland. Having said that, I've watched enough Steven Hayes UK on Youtube to know that whatever differences may exist, the path to successful fruit growing is essentially the same.
Floral uk says spraying is never a "MUST". That's his or her opinion and I can assure you would not be shared by the majority of commercial growers anywhere, including the UK. Floral is correct in the sense that it depends on what you want from your fruit tree. IF you want fruit from your tree, fruit that is not wormy, bug bitten and covered with sooty blotch and fly speck, you will have to spray. It's just an unfortunate reality, and you better believe growers in the UK spray, just like they do in the US and elsewhere in the world.
You can limit sprays and spray things like sulfur and such that is fairly environmentally benign. You can sometimes, with certain varieties in certain places, in the best of seasons get an acceptable crop without spraying, but it's tough....real tough.
Show us some photos friend. Again, it may be an ornamental crab.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:15PM
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I have a 16 year old Granny Smith apple tree that I have never sprayed. Last year, it had 400+ apples on it!

They had tiny dark spots on the skin but it was only cosmetic. Each apple had 2 or 3 dark brown spots that were the circumference of a pencil eraser. The flesh underneath though was perfect! I cut up over 150 of them for pies and I threw out one apple because the apple was bruised inside from a bug.

This year is very different though. I don't see ONE apple growing! My pear tree has no pears and my crabapple tree has no berries. The weather this year has affected their production. Oddly enough, my Niagara grapevine is producing like crazy! I stopped counting at 160 clusters of grapes and that's on one vine, although it is a vine that is 20 feet long with 4 branches coming off the main stem.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:03AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Appleseed70 - obviously commercial growers in the UK spray but the OP is talking about a single apple tree in a domestic back garden of the kind found in the millions throughout the country. They are very often Bramleys and they are usually loaded. There's only so many cooking apples a family can get though so in this situation spraying for crop optimisation isn't usually an issue for domestic gardeners. There's a similar tree near my allotment which produces apples enough for several people to collect and it hasn't been sprayed for at least 20 years. Since the OP is not, presumably, selling the crop cosmetic blemishes are not that important. If the tree is indeed a Bramley it is an apple which is always cooked and consequently generally peeled. So something like scab is irrelevant. The commonest pest is codling moth. You can spray for this or you can just cut out the bad bits when chunking the fruit for cooking. For winter moth a grease band is sufficient. Clearly if the OP wants perfect apples every time spraying is in order. But to get sufficient fruit for a family it really isn't a sine qua non.

Again - if we could see some more pictures it would be helpful. It could be a crab and we are wasting our breath.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:37AM
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Sorry it has taken me a while to come back to you, I had taken some pictures and then not got chance to add them on here!!
Here they are, apologies if it is a crab apple tree (sorry I don't know my varieties)......there are still a few apples left on the tree, but what I was more thinking was later on in the year pruning it back a fair way, as much as may be recommended for a mature tree and keeping an eye on it from there for next year..

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:39AM
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Eesh, only let me load up one pic...bear with me....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:41AM
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Eesh, only let me load up one pic...bear with me....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:42AM
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Eesh, only let me load up one pic...bear with me....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:43AM
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Eesh, only let me load up one pic...bear with me....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:45AM
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Eesh, only let me load up one pic...bear with me....

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 6:46AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Well it does look like a Bramley with several common problems. A bit of scab, some brown rot. Can't tell if it has codling moth because that hole could have been made by hitting a stone or twig when the apple fell. (It clearly fell hard as it has the imprint of the paving stone on it.) Cut that apple in half and see if it has tunnels inside. Google images to help you.

The tree has been pruned fairly recently and has produced long shoots which won't bear much fruit anyway. They'll make more next year. Bramleys also have a tendency to biennial bearing i.e. a big crop alternate years. Yours may be on its off year.

You'll have to decide how much you want Bramley apples and how many you think you need. Even on a slightly scruffy tree you'll probably get as many usable fruit as you want. However, if you want to get more cosmetically acceptable fruit and more of them I suggest you use the RHS information available on pest prevention. Most people on this site are in the US and deal with very different conditions and pests from the UK.

Here is a link that might be useful: RHS Apple info.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 7:29AM
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Hi Floral_uk,
That is brilliant, thank you for your help, it is greatly informative. Will cut one of the apples when I get home and have a look and go from there.

I will see about doing a follow on post to this with some goods news/pictures of improvements :)


    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Most people on this site are in the US and deal with very different conditions and pests from the UK

Very different floral? I disagree with that bit. What I see there is precisely what neglected apple trees look like here. Everything stevenhayesuk mentions and combats are the same here...little to no difference. Remember, the US ranges from high desert to temperate to sub tropical and back to low hotter than hell desert again, not to mention the near sub arctic regions.
No doubt there are some minor differences, but "Very" different? Nah.
Only thing I've noticed different (from here at least) is the amount of lichen/moss growing on Steven Hayes trees. Here in Maryland you don't see that, but in other regions probably so.

At any rate Beedie, looks like a nice place you have there. I always admired English yards with the hedges etc...very nice. I wish you luck with your tree, so you can get some good apples.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 12:33PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Yes - very different. Rainfall, winter chill, summer heat, humidity, soils, pests and attitudes. Much of the advice for N American growers is just not applicable. I do appreciate the US is a big place with a range of climates. The nearest to our conditions I believe would be somewhere like Seattle. BTW I see very little lichen on the tree. It's just old and has normal old Bramley bark.

I'm not quite sure of the relevance of Stephen Hayes. I had to Google him as he is by no means a household name here. It seems he manages a commercial enterprise of 800 trees about an hour from where I live. Our OP has a single tree which is the same as a million other Bramleys in a million other UK gardens.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:57PM
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attitudes floral? Please explain. Ok..."very different" you say. Please tell me what would be done to correct beedies tree in the UK. Then tell me how it would differ here?
Reread my post floral, I never mentioned anything of lichen on beedies tree. I also never eluded to it being a problem of any sort.
I also wasn't implying Stephen Hayes was a rockstar in the UK. I simply assumed that you being here on this site and Hayes being an hour away (as you said) that you probably knew of him. So, you didn't. My apologies if they are required.
In your post to beedie you mentioned three issues 1) Scab 2) Brown rot and 3) Coddling Moth
All 3 issues are common as dirt here in the states. Very different?

Seattle I too would guess to be similar in conditions to Northern UK, but if I had to guess I'd say maybe Anchorage or Seward, AK. That would be the closest from the perspective of latitude. Perhaps somewhere on the Alaskan peninsula, I'm not really sure. I'm also lost on how it is of such importance.
Floral, I learn stuff from folks here from all over and I've learned a lot from a gentlemen in the UK. I'll take help from anyone who cares to lend a hand or an matter where or what country they happen to reside in.
I just disagreed with your notion or implication that US folks could be of little or no help to beedie. That was after all your implication...was it not?
The relevance of Stephen Hayes is that I've watched, I think all his videos. I never recall thinking while watching "oh...well that don't apply...oh...we don't have that issue...scab...what's scab?...oh...that's only how you graft in the's different here...oh coddling moth, don't know what that is etc, etc".
It ALL applied. That's the relevance.
I don't see the irrelevance of a Bramley that Haye's has (he has them, of course) and beedies. Is it because he has 800 trees? You then go on to say:

Our OP has a single tree which is the same as a million other Bramleys in a million other UK gardens
Hmmm...lost me.

I'm not at all looking to be disagreeable and I'm not offended by spirited debate. Perhaps you are sensitive and I offended you...if so, I really am sorry, and I mean that.

Beedie's all your's floral in the spirit of keepin' it British.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:10PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Appleseed - I think you have misunderstood what I'm trying to get at with my responses. It is a misconception to think that I could be in anyway offended.

To compare any part of the UK with Anchorage shows little grasp of the nature of the climate in the British Isles. The comparison with Seattle was an attempt to illustrate the kind of climate we have here.You say you're lost as to its importance. Its importance, imo, is that it shows that your opinions, while interesting and welcome, are not based on an understanding of conditions here, other than some YouTube videos, and thus your assessment of what Beedie might want to do regarding the tree is on shaky ground. While some problems are common factors, they are occurring in a different environment, both physical and social.

This whole conversation started with your categorical statement: 'Apple trees need care. They MUST be sprayed.' I contend that there is no MUST about it and that it depends on circumstances. That's all.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:02AM
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blah, blah, blah

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 12:30PM
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