Staking a leaning apple tree

mcckkey(MI zone 5)August 23, 2014

One of my honeycrisp trees has a serious lean and has gotten worst over the last few years.I'll admit I probably didn't do a very good job with pruning the first few years.I had to fence the trees in with wire mesh circular cages to keep the deer from destroying them.

Scratching my head trying to come up with a way to prop it back up......I thought about those 36 " inch mobile home anchor rods use for hurricane support on each two sides attached to the tree with some heavy cable and maybe a piece of heavy rubber to protect the tree bark from chaffing where the cable wraps around the tree. I could use my winch and my ATV to pull the tree back vertical but I'm worried I might snap the tree or damage the root ball? Any thoughts or suggestions welcome?

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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

For some reason only one picture went through here a more detailed pic.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:53PM
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appleseed70

Use the anchor rod like you said, but for crying out loud don't try to winch it all at once. Just put a little pressure on it and tighten it a click or two every few weeks. As badly as that is leaned it will take a few years to get it straight.
That will never pull up straight in one go without breaking the tree or separating roots.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:09PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Wait after the harvest and first frost, ...I might be inclined to dig
around root ball and then turning it straight up,..make sure you anchor it good, at least on 3 sides.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:23PM
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alan haigh

I would begin the process right away, at least to make sure it doesn't lean more due to the weight of the apples. It can take a little upward pressure without snapping roots. Just make sure the ground is very moist.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 2:38PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I actually had the same problem 2 days ago with an asian pear, Most of my trees are staked, but this one is on Beutifolia rootstock, which shouldn't theoretically need staking. But, with a young tree and a heavy load, mine was leaning almost as much as yours- maybe a few degrees less.

About 2 feet from the tree, I sank a 7' U-post into the ground as far as I could get it. I then secured the post by driving a large, relatively flat stone into the ground next to it, using a heavy digging bar as the hammer.

Then I used some insulated wire to slowly bring the tree almost (but not quite) vertical. I was pretty nervous about losing my grip on the wire, as if I had the tree would have fallen back and probably snapped off. I should have gotten my daughter to hold it, while I tied it off.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:58AM
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alan haigh

I just find a sapling in the woods with a U shaped codominant leader (crook) strong enough to support the tree and work it under the tree at a point where there is a branch to stop it from slipping and either push the whole thing up myself, or with a bigger tree have someone help and/or use a hand wench. Sometimes I use two or three such crutches in larger young trees.

For a tree that has been leaning for a while, I push it up gradually if it seems like I'll snap the roots otherwise.

After the last hurricane here I was going from site to site propping up trees that had fallen over but are now, two years later, straight and stable. At one site two hundred year plus, very large trees fell over and several of us used wenches and 4X4's to hold them up and used numerous duck-billed wire anchors to create a semi-permanent support system- the roots held and the trees are growing with equal vigor and health as three other trees next to them that didn't fall.

At another site, I could have been killed when the roots and part of the trunk of a similarly sized tree snapped while we were using a wench and an improvised crane to lift it up and it crashed to the ground. We are regrowing the tree from some remaining water sprouts. In about 80 years it will be as good as new.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 6:01AM
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achang89(Z6)

Since the tree leans heavily, I think you'll need to dig the soil around the tree to lift it. Then you need the heavy wires used to support utility posts and anchor the wires well.

I'm surprised that you only need that much wire mesh for the deer protection. In my area, deer just loves anything about apple. I lost all my apple trees to deer.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:25AM
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rayrose(8)

I had a silimar problem on my Grimes Golden this year.
I had to remove a lot of the fruit and do some pruning, in order to relieve some the weight. Then I drove a 4ft. long piece of rebar half way into the ground. I pieced some wire cable through a length of excess garden water
hose and wrapped it around the base of the tree, while a friend pushed the tree upright, while I secured tha cable around the rebar. The water hose keeps the cable from digging into the tree. We got the tree to stand totally erect, and it carried the remainder of the fruit to harvest.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:48AM
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appleseed70

I seen a guy pull up a big tree (not a fruit tree), much bigger than this using nothing but an anchor rod with a cable from it to the tree trunk about 6' from the ground with nothing but a single cement block suspended from the middle. The weight of that single block over the course of several years pulled the tree up straight.
I was surprised that it worked and wondered how that man knew it would work.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:53AM
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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

Thanks for the advice and help everyone :). I think I'm going to try driving some 5 Ft T-posts into the ground and try those first to see how they hold up.I can't find the hurricane anchoring kits locally,and the ones I did find on Amazon had some mixed reviews that they didn't work that great. Hopefully I can get it done this week and will post an update with pics.

achang89 I had to drive cedar posts in the ground and have a five wire solar powered electric fence around my little orchard.It if wasn't for that they would had destroyed my trees long ago.I still a few young fawns this slip through the fence, but Luckily they don't do much damage.The older deer have been shocked a few times and stay clear :).

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 11:17AM
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achang89(Z6)

No wonder. I can tell that deer really loves apple trees. I'll try to build a electric fence with my fruit tree area. I have about a dozen fruit trees now.

Your apple tree looks nice with all the fruits. I'm sure you can put the apple on its firm feet.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:09PM
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alan haigh

I love the idea of using a weight to gradually pull a tree upright. Very clever concept. I have certainly noticed how the weight of fruit lowers even the thickest, oldest scaffold branches over the seasons.

I've been crutching up loaded branches on my own property today to keep them above the browse line. The peaches and other fruit are so big this year from ample early rain and aggressive thinning.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:19PM
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nyRockFarmer(5A Southern Tier, NY)

If the tree is well anchored and there is lot of clay in the soil it can be loosened it up by saturating the soil. Also, the post should be deep enough for support when the soil does become saturated during the rainy season.

The clay content is so high where I live that it hardens into concrete during dry periods. During the wet spring rains it will barely support a human, let alone a tractor.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:22PM
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achang89(Z6)

mcckkey.

Can you let me know how you install your electric fence? You can send email to me at achang989@gmail.com. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:27PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Rayrose, I'm surprised that you've already picked Grimes Golden this year. Isn't it supposed to be a late apple? What do you think of it?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:06AM
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appleseed70

That's what I though harvestman...slick. The beauty of it is that there is never any readjusting necessary. You just mentally figure the amount of angular deviation required and then adjust the weight's height accordingly, when straight, the weight sets on the ground relieving tension. I guess you could affix a length of dangling logging chain to prevent the wind from swaying the weight.
I drove past it everyday and watched it slowly pull this big tree up straight as an arrow. It's got to be very gentle too.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 1:00AM
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rayrose(8)

I'm in SC, and most apples ripen much sooner here than where you are. I also pick GG, before it turns totally yellow. To me, it looses a lot of its flavor, if picked too
ripe. It's one of my favorites, and I grow 12 different varieties. It's big, hard, crunchy and it has a robust flavor. My kind of apple. I like it better than Gold Rush. It's also a very good pollinator.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 8:40AM
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lucky_p

High water table here, with a GOOD clay soil, and exposed site, with quite a bit of wind.
Many of my original apples, on combo M9/M111 - despite M111's reputation for good anchorage - leaned badly, and were continually getting worse.
Pulled 'em as close to upright as I could, during winter, and propped them in place, more or less as harvestman suggested.
They were big enough by that time that a t-post, or multiple t-posts, were not going to be strong enough to hold them in place - they'd have either pulled right up out of the ground, or bent under the strain.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:36PM
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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

Well finally found a store in the area that had the 30 & 40 "h inch steel eartanchors rods in stock.I Bought some 3/16 " steel wire cable and clamps.Decided the T-post probably weren't the best idea and would be a major pain if I ever had to remove them.I thought I would be able to winch the tree back up in place using my 4 wheeler & winch but was too much weight for the little Honda foreman 450

I used my tractor bucket hook and a tow strap around the base of the tree and slowly backed up little by little until I didn't feel comfortable going any further in fear of snapping the tree off at the base. I sunk one of the 40 " earth anchor by hand with a piece of steel rod through the hole in the top and was wore out and back was aching......I only used a 30 " on the other corner and was much easier going in :).

I moved the tractor forward enough to take the pressure off the tow strap and the one of the cables pulled loose through the cable clamps.I only used two per end,I added another cable clamp and tightened them down and tried again and it held.

I didn't want to push my luck and thought I'd wait until I harvested the apples next month and then maybe without the added weight,I'd try to winch it a little bit more in the vertical vertical position.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:40PM
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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

A few more pics

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:43PM
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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

Last pic

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 4:46PM
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insteng

Looks like you got it pretty good. I would let it settle in for awhile then slowly straighten it some more later until you get it back straight.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2014 at 6:10PM
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appleseed70

Yep...you got it way straighter than I'd have thought possible in one go. Do you think you broke any roots in the process?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 1:47AM
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mcckkey(MI zone 5)

Appleseed70

Didn't appear to damage the root ball at all......But I could feel the auger disk running into some roots in the process of screwing it into the ground.Hopefully it didn't do too much damage.I've still got a couple other trees that I need to to do,Their not leaning as bad and thought I'd wait until next month after they drop their apples.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2014 at 8:02AM
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