Pruning my Anna apple tree

ecky_bay(z10 CA)January 2, 2006

I live in San Diego. I was reading my "Pat Welsh's Southern California" gardening book this morning. She suggests we cut all the leaves off our apple trees because it's not cold enough to make them drop their leaves in the fall/winter. The need, she writes, is due to the new leaves emerging in the spring. If they try to come in where there are old existing leaves, it will cause scaling which will eventually cause the fruit to rot.

Well, this is the first year I've heard of this. This is my second winter with the tree. It thrives and has beautiful leaves and lots of new growth AND lots of apples (in two seasons!) I definitely don't want to intervene when it's not necessary. But, perhaps it IS necessary, but the problem hasn't surfaced just yet.

Any help?

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Look up your local chapter of California Rare Fruit Growers and you will get the best local information FREE.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 7:45PM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

Yes, this is how apples are grown in tropical countries, stripping the leaves tricks the apple tree into thinking it's time to bloom. I learned this from a neat E-book, Growing Apples in the City. But Anna is one of those ultra-low-chill apples I think you probably don't have to do that and it will bear fruit anyway. Also, this is not the ideal time to prune, so put your secateurs away (also covered in the book).

Here is a link that might be useful: growing apples in mild winter climates

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 4:01PM
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kuffelcreek(z5 So. Calif.)

Anna is indeed a true maniac and needs no intervention on your part to fruit. Equally exuberant is Dorsett Golden, which needs absolutely no chilling or pollination, and has superior crunch and taste not only to Anna, but to any fall supermarket apple. Thin them both heavily when the apples are dime-sized. Be brutal.

Like many summer apples, Anna has a fine line between being hard and sour and sweet and mushy. It makes great applesauce. Dorsett Golden however, is sweet even when green and keeps quite well for a June-ripening apple. Wish I had one right now.

Both these trees will quickly grow spurs and bear tons of apples in a very compact space, and are worthy of anyone's garden. Both are available bare-root at Home Depot right now.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2006 at 9:26PM
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ecky_bay(z10 CA)

Thank you so much kuffelcreek. We have had several seasons of apples, now, from our Anna. All the apples, though kind of skinny, have been delicious. A little on the tart side (which is why we chose it) but never mushy. I do a lot of baking, so it's ideal for us in that regard, too.

After reading some other advice from a book sent to me from Greenwitch on this forum and some other sources, I PRUNED EXTENSIVELY today. I also stripped the leaves. I'm excited to see how this turns out. I'm also a little nervous, I must admit. But geez, once you get started pruning, it's hard to stop! Also, Greenwitch, I know the ebook talks about pruning in Summer, but it also says we can do it now. I figured that I can get away with it since I've never pruned this tree.

What I have learned from my research is that we should be limiting the vigor of the tree in order to encourage fruit. I pruned most of the vertical growth and any crossing branches. Once I was in this aggressive mood, it was easier to strip the leaves off of what was left. There were buds nestled in between the leaves and the branches, so it seemed to confirm the author (Pat Welsh's) claim that the new leaves would grow where the old leaves are.

I'll keep you all posted on this thread, in case anyone's interested.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2006 at 9:47PM
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The more buds you removed with your pruning the more the remaining buds will be stimulated to grow. Expect a lot of spring growth. Al

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 10:18AM
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jenn(SoCal 9/19)

Greenwitch -- thank you for posting that excellent article which I read almost from the beginning to end (I started at the point which most interested me at the moment....... varieties that do well here, and continued from there to the very end). I've read very few things as reader-friendly and informative as that article.

How would apple trees do in our side yard which faces south-east? I wonder if they'd be better espalliered against our back fence which faces south-west, along a path which is between the fence and roses.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 1:58PM
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I know this is old but does ANYONE have a picture of this tree? Not just the fruit....the TREE. I purchased an Anna and a Dorset Golden from Wal-Mart and it says they grow to 30' tall and wide but without knowing what they look I don't really know where I want to put them.

Anyone ever notice people always take pictures of flowers and fruit but never plants ;) Could be the most beautiful flower in the world and bloom once but an ugly plant the other 51 weeks a year.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 9:41AM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Sorry I don't know how to post pictures, but my Anna, at least 10 years old, is only 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. I don't have to prune much to keep it that size, I just prune to thin it out occasionally. It is on M III dwarfing rootstock. The type of rootstock will make a big difference as to the final size.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 3:09PM
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The photo on the right shows me holding an Anna apple (the left photo is a high-density orchard in New Zealand). The tree is 5 years old and will not get any bigger. Socalgal's M111 tree would get 20 feet tall if she let it, but she wisely prunes it to be the size she wants.

Your trees can also be kept any size by summer pruning.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 9:42PM
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ecky_bay(z10 CA)

Mine is about 8 feet tall, and we've had it three years or so. I started pruning it (that's why this thread got started) last year. It bloomed prolifically right after I pruned it, and set bushels of fruit that got to be about two inches thick before they ALL dropped. After the big fruit exodus of '06, it started producing tons of vertical growth. It didn't get any taller, but the horizontal branches I left after the pruning, each produced like twenty new little vertical branches full of fresh green leaves. As I write this, all the leaves have turned yellow and are falling all on their own. I guess it's a colder winter this year. Hooray!

I've read different things about the pruning, though. I don't want to repeat last year's mistake. I think I'll wait until after June, when I hope to get a regular apple harvest. Then I can cut away all those vertical branches. BUT can I expect any flowers or fruit on them, and if not, shouldn't I get rid of them now?

    Bookmark   December 31, 2006 at 11:20PM
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Thanks for the great pictures and information!!!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 8:43PM
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ecky bay:

When the Anna apples are the size of a dime, thin each cluster to the largest (usually center) one. Then keep 8" of spacing between the apples. This will help prevent the fruit drop you had in '06. You can do your first summer pruning right after you thin, so that you can see what wood is the fruiting wood.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 11:04PM
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Did you use another apple tree to polinate your Anna? Does it need one?

Here is a link that might be useful: How my garden grows!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 12:02AM
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My tree has been in the ground for 6 years. Last year was the first year for fruit and only 7 apples on high branches only and they fell off around June.
Hardly any of the leaves fell off this year and I noticed at the top there's one apple about the size of a Mexican lime and a few blossoms on the bottom.
I wasn't sure if I was aiding the tree in being fruitful. Will try to prune in June. Thanks for the tips.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 5:22PM
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Dorsett Golden is the only apple that blossoms early enough to pollinate Anna. Anna will fruit without being pollinated, however the fruit will be misshapen, resembling skinny columns. If only one or two pistles get pollinated, that side of the apple will be fat and the rest skinny and lopsided. If it gets full pollination, they can get humongous, especially if you thin hard. Having both varieties will increase the quality of the fruit on both. They will also grow spurs and fruit heavily each year.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 3:34PM
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I planted by semi dwarf Anna Apple here in Apple Valley, CA in March 2008. I pruned it back in March 2009. It has beautiful growth, but no fruit. It appears I should have a harvest next month. It gets water on a drip system three times a week with about 3/4 of water. It is well drain soil and I did fertilize some in April 2009. Do I need a Dorsett Golden in order to pollinate and if so when should that be planted. My Anna is about 2 or 3 years old.
Can you help me with creating my next Apple Pie?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Anna will bear without a pollinator, but the non-pollinated apples will be tall and skinny. Having Dorsett Golden as a pollinator will plump them up. You can see this by finding a really lopsided apple- cut it open, and you will see the skinny side has aborted seeds that are just specs, while the plump side has nice fat seeds.

By the way, Apple Valley used to have thousands of acres of apples planted in the 1920's until a root fungus wiped out the orchards in the late 1930's. You can grow just about any variety you want.


    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:27PM
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My Anna is covered with blooms. It is dec 12, should I pull them off?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 12:31PM
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No, it will do that every year. It doesn't hurt the tree or the crop next spring. Enjoy the display.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2010 at 8:57PM
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If my neighbor has an apple tree do I need one to pollinate? How close do the trees have to be to each other?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 1:29PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

If your neighbor has an Anna, you can scroll up in this thread to see that Anna doesn't require a pollinator. But self-pollinated fruit will be skinny (and not as many will set). If the apple is something else, then yes, it may need a pollinator. You need to find out what apple tree your neighbor has to determine the best pollinator. The pollinators need to bloom at the same time. You can visit Dave Wilson Nurseries to read up on the best pollinators for different apple varieties.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dave Wilson Nusery - Apple Trees

    Bookmark   March 17, 2011 at 3:39PM
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