Plant new apple tree or wait and see?

sam_ny(5)September 10, 2012

Wonder if anyone has an opinion on this whether a tree is worth trying to save. Last year I put in a few apple trees, including a JonaFree on semi-dwarfing stock (m.7). In 2011, we had an unusually wet spring and summer and the field stayed wet almost all summer long (my father-in-law started calling my trees swamp apples).

Anyway, this year was dryer (maybe a little too dry) and most of my second year trees seem to be doing okay. However, the JonaFree got hit with what I think is Cedar Apple Rust (see picture). It seems to have grown almost not at all after the early bud growth. And recently it lost almost all its leaves. It was also the one that was in standing water for much of last summer.

What's the conventional wisdom here? Something like, "even if it does come back, the growth will be stunted and it'll never grow right"? Or, "I've seen this happen to trees and then they bounce back and do great. Just hit them with Immunox in the spring and see how it goes"? Or something else?

I have a bunch of grafted seedlings in a bed and I could easily replace the JonaFree, but it seems a shame to give up on two year's effort. What would you do?

Thanks for any thoughts.


PS - By the way, can anyone confirm from my blurry photo that that's CAR?

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Yep, CAR.

One year of CAR, in itself, isn't going to kill your tree.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:52PM
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alan haigh

Car can completely defoliate a tree by now and it may not be why tree is growing slowly. I've seen trees hit as hard as that put on growth after CAR slows down or stops later in the season- happened this year in my own nursery. Your tree is what I might expect when hit by CAR on year of transplant.

I'm surprised Jonafree isn't more resistant- guess it's only scab-free.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 6:29PM
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I'm wondering if the slow growth is due to the "wet feet" from last year.

For what it's worth, of the resistant varieties, My William's Pride was untouched by CAR and Liberty (which is right next to some cedars) did almost as well. My MacFree has a few spotty leaves as well, but nothing like this. (Note: I'm not allowed to cut the cedars down.)

The running problem on the MacFree are caterpillars of some sort. Maybe I'll post some pictures of those.

Anyway, I guess the consensus is to wait and see about my leafless JonaFree. In spite of the water last year, it was the healthiest looking until this summer, so maybe there's hope.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:00PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Sam, if it makes it through this winter it should recover. It got in a lot of root growth so it will be much more energetic next year.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:49AM
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Since you have the seedlings available, why not plant another tree alongside this tree? Some people have planted several trees in one hole and then pruned the adjoining sides heavily. If you planted another apple variety near this one(how near would depend on how much space is available), if both survive you could prune the adjoining sides as necessary. If one dies, then you still have the surviving tree. Considering how long it takes for fruit trees to mature, I wouldn't just wait to see what might happen. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:33PM
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Yet digging out the hole to plant another tree right alongside is likely to damage the roots of the existing tree.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:47PM
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northwoodswis4, I have other trees around it as close as I would ever want to put semi-dwarfs, I think. All new trees are going in a different field, I just thought I could reuse this hole if it wasn't likely to rebound next spring.

Digging a tree hole here results in two equal piles: one dirt, the other rocks. The prospect of digging one fewer hole and driving four fewer posts for the deer fence is a welcome one if the tree that's there is going to die anyway.

Thanks for the feedback, all. I'll leave it there through next summer and report back. Hope to get the CAR under control next year, so maybe can remove that variable.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:35PM
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alan haigh

I bet I deal with as aggressive deer as you but I rarely need 4 stakes to protect a tree. Try using 14 gauge galvanized fencing 5' tall- about a 12' length and when you cut the fence leave long pieces of wire on one side and have the other flush. Attach the fence to a single metal or wood (treated 8', 2X2") post and close the fence around the tree with 2 or 3 pieces of the extended wire (deer don't have fingers so no need to spend extra time closing and opening the fence.

The point is to have a cage wide enough to grow the tree above the browse line without too much damage but to be able to easily access the tree and nearby ground. If the fence is secured to the post it opens like a door with very little effort.

I hate it when my customers over build their fence protection and I have to waste time getting access to the trees.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:56AM
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Thanks harvestman. I've been thinking 4 stakes is overkill and have been looking into ways to save some money on fence and stakes (and hours).

Any tips on where to find fencing like that inexpensively?

I read or saw some place where a guy used two stakes (at 12 and 6) with fairly rigid fencing (concrete reinforcing wire maybe) and then left a gap (maybe 12") between the fence and the ground to provide for easier mowing. Any thoughts on that?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:49AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


Any chance you could post a picture of your deer fence?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 1:53PM
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I'm using cheap deer netting that is $30-$70 for 100 feet long and 7-8' tall.

I push three 3/8" steel rods that are 8' long a foot or two into the ground forming a triangle around the tree and then wrap the net around and secure with spring clips designed for electric fence fiberglass rods.

I'll also use clothes pins to hold the bottom down (cheaper and easier than the clips), or to hold the flap shut.

It works out to a few dollars per tree and is reusable. The cheapest deer netting may only last a year or two, I expect the more expensive ones to last much longer.

I'll probably take them down after the leaves drop and put them back up in late winter/early spring before they leaf out.

So far its worked very well for quince, plum, mulberry and persimmon. The hardy kiwi likes to grow through sometimes and what pokes out gets browsed.

Figs, feijoa, honeyberry and olive have been left alone unprotected so far.

I thought I might be able to get away leaving out black currants, persimmon, and aronia but no such luck.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 2:12PM
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alan haigh

Concrete wire is very thick and difficult to work with. 14 G. fencing 5' tall (2X4" spacing) is available at Home Depot for about $40 a 50' roll and should last about 10 years before the welds start to give. Higher quality galvanization used to be standard when the fencing came from Georgia instead of China and you could get about 20 years. This higher quality fencing may still be available from fence supply stores.

Being able to mow under a tree is not an issue for me. I want easy access to my trees for my hands. I have dealt with concrete wire and plastic netting at various sites and I much prefer my method because entry is so much easier. But then, the 5' or so diameter rings inside the fence are usually mulched and a mower is not used. Weeds are pulled by hand. If and when I stop mulching, the tree is already above the browse line and the fence is removed and replaced with a narrow buck guard to protect the trunk from rubs.

Sorry, no time for photos this week. I have to get my wife's help to accomplish that. I'm a techidiot.

Drive one stake into the ground a couple feet from the tree, weave the end of fencing with flush cuts through the stake (if it's smooth wood) wrap the fencing around the tree and close the tube you've made with 2 or 3 pieces of the fences own wire. Total time- about 10 minutes including measuring and cutting the fence piece.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:34AM
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Thanks, harvestman, for the detailed description.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:43AM
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