Nice surprise from apple tree

DixieGardner(7b)September 13, 2013

I have never grown any type of tree, fruit or otherwise. When I was growing up my grandfather had a limbertwig apple tree which was my favorite, especially for green apple pies and applesauce. 5 years ago I bought one (a year old whip) and it has grown taller than my house with about a 10 to 12 foot spread. This year it is loaded with apples. The first couple of years it was easy to prune. I read to cut distal 1/3 of each branch off, plus any branches pointed towards the center or crossing another branch. I could do that. This year I am crying uncle and getting someone who knows more about it to do my pruning. The surprise has been what apparently is the trait that earned the tree its name. The lower branches drooped almost to the ground. This was especially a problem since it was beside a garden path. Today I picked all the apples from the two branches over the path, filled a 5 gallon bucket plus all I could put in my shirttail. Now the branches are back in the air where they belong!

I did not thin them last spring and have never treated the tree for pests. A lot of the apples are misshapen and bug and bird munched on, but most are round and sound.

Beside a good pruning and thinning next spring, do you have any advise for me? I am thinking dormant oil spray this winter. What else organic treatment should I add? I'm good with sharing with the birds.

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do not let pests develop. You may end up with all apples with a bug. You could cultivate under the tree to expose overwintering grubs for a start.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 10:21PM
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I have noticed that this time of year info can be slow to get on this forum. The most knowledgeable people are busy doing and don't have much time to talk about it. If you don't get all the info you want try again in January & February. I want to develop a solid organic type pest control program too.

As for your pruning, you have not given any info that indicates that there is anything wrong with your method. However, one thing I might suggest, given how tall it is you might want to cut back your central leader so you don't have to deal with apples so high. Not only that, but the upper portion is probably not very strong. If you cut the central leader one or more top buds will shoot out a new leader. So make sure it is just one and going straight up and let it go, but revisit each spring for pruning. I wish I had included leader trimming in my yearly pruning from year one. Start looking at your leader now to pick that prune point so it is well thought out when you get there.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

If you don't have any diseases on it you may not need to dormant spray. The most important spray you can do is use some Surround in May next year, keep the tree covered with it from petal fall through apples dime sized. That should limit the damage from the curculio which is what is making the apples misshapen. Besides that keep a look out for problems and add more sprays as they are needed. I get my Surround from, its a good organic supply place.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 10:03PM
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