Transparent variety apple tree advice please

excumbrianJuly 31, 2008

I have a mature (probably 30 year old) apple tree in the back yard. The apples appear to be Transparent variety or similar -- very early ripening.

I want to bring the tree down to a manageable height, as it's currently too tall to harvest without lopping off branches. I HAVE lopped off a lot of the recent vertical growth leaving the tree about 20 feet high. I would also like to try and rejuvenate the tree, as it's become less productive over the last 7 years since we've owned the house.

My question is: how much further can I safely bring it down without harming the tree? And should I get a professional to do it?

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Reduced production may be related to topping. Probably best to occasionally cut out whole branches that have become lacking in vigor and productivity and leave the rest alone. While still vigorous the tree will respond to hard topping cuts by throwing up vertical replacement shoots. These will not bear heavily until old enough to have arched over.

Topping of non-dwarf fruit trees is common here. All that I have gotten up into had severe problems with bark sun-burning and lifting off, due to the sudden change in light exposure to the previously well-shaded lower main branches that the trees had been whacked down to. And we have a dull summer climate.

Decay follows, some sad old veterans are derelicts with stem portions so decayed as to be like dugout canoes. It might be better to remove the tree and replace it with a new one on a fully dwarfing rootstock. You might have to plant more than one kind to achieve the desired cross pollination. This might also pertain to production of the existing tree falling off, there might have been a pollinator nearby that was removed or mal-pruned, resulting in a loss of it as a pollen source for your tree.

Harvesting from branches above ladder height is a pain but there are those pole-mounted fruit pickers available. At least with apples you are collecting comparatively large, firm and abundant fruits. Recently I was picking cherries from a 10' ladder. Some were simply out of reach, all were scattered among sometimes crossing branches. Had to work the ladder between these, climb up and get a few cherries, then climb down and fight with it again...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2008 at 7:25PM
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lazygardener(z8 OR ,Bverton)

apologise for jumping on.

bboy,

Are these guidelines relevant for Pears also ?

-lg

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 2:42PM
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excumbrian

Many thanks for your advice.

We had taken out two rather ratty-looking standard size apple trees to provide space in the smallish back yard. In retrospect, this may have been a mistake.

I think that I shall thin out the tree a bit as you suggest and add another semi-dwarf apple tree.
The yard gets afternoon sun (faces west) and is not particularly well-drained.
I would like a tree with the following attributes:
(a) semi-dwarf (i.e. pickable using step ladder or ladder)
(b) disease resistance (I don't want to use sprays)
(c) excellent flavour for eating raw (e.g Cox's cross or Fuji)
(d) small to medium sized fruit
(e) fruit does not go mealy (which rules out Golden Delicious!)

We would like to be able to put in a tree this fall / winter so it would have to be something that you normally carry from stock, preferably 3 years old.
I wondered if Kidd's Orange Red or Egremont Russet would be a suitable choice? Or do you have other suggestions?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2008 at 3:04PM
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muddydogs

New Transparent apple trees are usually available in March at most local nurseries if that is what you like. Chehaiis apples are way better. No disease. bears heavily every year.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 1:39AM
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