Sunflower7
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Question about pruning old apple trees?

This is question about pruning of old neglected apple trees.
I am trying to learn how to rejuvenate my apple trees by pruning and found many sites to explain how to prune.
What I want to know is when I was reading 'Shape the tree the next year by removing another third of the tree's growth' I wasn't sure if removing 1/3 of tree height or 1/3 of branches on tree.
Is it safe to remove 1/3 of tree height every year?
If I decided to renovate my apple trees, I need reptable fruit tree specialist who is knowledgable and skillful to work on my apple trees but it is so hard to find fruit tree specialist around Philadelphia area.
I don't want hire people who know nothing about pruning fruits trees.
When tree service people pruned my apple trees, they pruned top of these trees horizontally straight like pruning hedge.
Is it right way?

Can you imagine how difficult for me to explain about everything by using second language?
gardening is my hobby

JONA878
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As you say Sunflower..it is very difficult to explain how to renovate old trees in writing without being able to see the trees.

It would help enormously if you could take a few pictures of your tree so that we could have some idea as to its actual size and density.

The usual problem with very old trees is that they have either grown far too high to be useful or are far too dense to be giving good quality fruit.

Either of theses would not be helped by just ' scalping ' the tree.
That would just promote even more growth and not improve the trees appearance or fruiting.

Can you get a few snaps?
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Sunflower7
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Reply to Jona878

JONA878, thank you for your reply.
Yes, I need to take picture of my apple trees and post it.
When my daghter get home, I will ask her to post picture.
My guess is it is better to get rid of these trees and expand my garden so I can plant what ever I want to plant.
One thing is sure, I never want to plant full size or even dwarf size apple tree anymore.
Only apple trees I am interested is columnar apple trees knowing I can plant these in large pot.
There are large potted blueberries and goji berry plants to replant in garden so I need more ground to put these plants plus I love to plant more vegetables.
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JONA878
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Don't give up on apple and pear trees Sunflower.
Large ones can be magnificent features in a garden if properly cared for and modern rootstocks and careful training can give you step over trees around your veg patch, espalier and cordens against fences and walls as well as fan walls for deviding areas up. Even pear arches to shade a pathway. All without taking up much room at all.


Look forward to seeing those pictures. :lol:
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

cynthia_h
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I agree: keep the old trees! Rejuvenating them will provide you with beautiful flowers and lots of fruit years sooner than starting all over again with young trees.

Wait for the pictures, and then follow JONA's advice.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Sunflower7
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I was ignorant and I am so mad!

Thank you Jona878 and Cynthia_H for taking your time to reply.
Tonight (2/24) I found out about miserable condition of my 1 apple trees and 2 Asian pear trees.
When I hired tree service people, they topped these trees to shorter height and now there is no way for anybody to rejuvenate to have decent fruits.
Why I did not know topping destroy trees!
How ignorant I was and how irresponsible tree service people are.
I was keep thinking maybe I can hire professional fruits tree specialist and rejuvenate my 3 trees without knowing my trees are ruined by tree service people and suffering.
I had no idea about how much damage topping does to trees and now I am heartbroken knowing that was real hell to plant those trees in clay soil.
Tree service people killed my trees slowly and I am so mad.
My guess is they knew what they were doing is destroying my trees but they did to get my $$$ or they are totally ignorant about pruning trees.
How foolish I was not knowing my trees are completely ruined.

I finally found professional fruits tree specialist to hire to rejuvenate my trees but I need to explain to him why I need to cancel and get rid of my trees.
How can I express my anger toward tree service people who ruined my 3 trees?
I feel almost like my trusted doctor end up killing my children!
I am sure if tree service people had integrity, they did not topping my trees to ruin.
Last edited by Sunflower7 on Fri Feb 25, 2011 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JONA878
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Do not give up Sunflower.
Try and get some pictures taken of your tree and get them here on the board.
It is extremely hard to kill full grown trees like that. More likely they have just made a mess that can be repaired with a little care.

As to the clay.
All my orchards are on real solid Sussex wealden clay.
It's not the best of soils by any means but it can be tamed and it has several things going for it that the light soils do not have.
The main thing is to prepare it well before planting and in the case of fruit trees, to be careful in the choise of rootstocks used.

So Sunflower....get those pictures and lets give your trees a fighting chance.

Good luck
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

DoubleDogFarm
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Yes, I agree with Jona878. Don't give up and please post some pictures.

There are many styles of training. Central leader, Open Center just to name two. We see a lot of standard fruit trees around here that look topped. More umbrella shape to be more specific.

Branches are trained into the fruiting angle. This is my Orcas pear, it may look funny to you, but it is very productive. The branch is most productive below the apex down to the tip. Most of the water sprouts grow at the apex.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Orchard/DSC01668.jpg[/img]

Same tree close to harvest time.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Orchard/Fruit003.jpg[/img]

and the clay issue. My orchard is the blue /grey clay variety. I decided to go with berms and swales to get up and out of the water logged soil. Just like my vegetable garden. Walk mostly in the swales not to compact the berms.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Orchard/DSC02874.jpg[/img]

Eric

cynthia_h
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Sunflower, I have a double Coast Redwood tree in my backyard. Actually, the tree *is* my backyard. Sometime in the early '70s, best guess from an arborist, the trees were topped. This has weakened them, because redwoods are the epitome of a primary leader tree.

Driving towards my house from the west, one can see four leaders for the two trunks. :( We have the arborist come examine the tree every three years because if its health comes into question, we'll have to remove it. It's so tall that, were it to fall (a storm?), it could take out any of the nine houses on this end of the block and damage a couple more, depending on which way it fell. We ourselves would be its most likely target given prevailing winds, but you just never know....

Since the tree was a very strong reason for us purchasing the house, removing it would be a major wrench.

The arborist said that topping of trees was "a fashion" for about 20 or 30 years, until tree people realized they were actually doing long-term damage to trees' health, and he also said that not everyone has gotten the word about that YET. :evil: So your tree probably suffered at the hands of someone who *thought* he knew everything but was ignorant. :x

Please do post photos. Fruit trees can be encouraged to bear *and* to be healthy in a number of shapes, all of which permit good sun and air circulation through the branches.

Best wishes.

Cynthia

Sunflower7
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Thank you for your replies

Jona878, DoubleDogFarm, and Cynthia_h, thank you for taking your time to reply!
Yes, as soon as my daughter comes home, I ask her to post pictures of my 3 trees.
What I am thinking right now is to plant new dwarf Asian pear 'Hosui' to have decent pear tree that bear perfect delicious fruits.
'Hosui' doesn't need another pear tree to polinate but it is better to have another different kind of pear tree.
The reason why I want dwarf type of fruit tree is because it is easier to prune and spray than having standard tall trees.

I learned lesson by hiring irresponsible tree service people who ruined my precious trees.
Before we decide to do something, do intense research and learn as much as we can to avoid disappointment and anger.
No matter how angry I am, I must forgive people who done harm to me.
Life is all about learning before we get to heaven.
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Sunflower7
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About my apple tree

This morning, I had conversation with professional fruits tree specialist and when I explained to him about how tree service people ruined my tree, he said he is coming next week to see my trees.
He asked what name of tree service did you hire?
When I told him name of tree service company, he said "They should know better."
My main concern is safety of next door neighbor because my apple tree and Asian pear trees are planted near the windows of next door therefore I am afraid if my trees fall on their windows to damage.
I don't think fallen trees kill neighbor but who knows?
Yes, that is something I need to think about.
If I decided to plant new tree, I am going to make sure to plant new trees far away from neighbor's house.

Below is what I learned about pruning apple trees.
Remove suckers,diseased or broken branches, downward and upward growing branches, competing leaders, narrow crotches, clossed branches,and whoris.
What is whoris?
I checked in my dictionary but not listed.
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Sunflower7
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This morning, professional fruits tree specialist came to take look at my apple trees, asian pear trees and persimmon tree.
After he examined my neglected apple tree, he gave me honest opinion.
He said it takes about $1500 to prune apple tree and after spending that much $$$$$, I cannot gurantee if you are going to have decent fruits or not.
Now, I am 99% sure to get rid of my apple trees and expand my gardening area.
Asian pears are almost like my kids, I cannot get rid of these trees so easily so I am willing to improve these trees by doing correct pruning.
He showed me vertical branches and suckers I need to remove.
When I asked him about tree damage by removing large branches, he said it doesn't damage pear trees.

I will never plant another tall(standard size) fruit trees anymore knowing it takes lots of $$$$$ for maintenance.
Dwarf or miniture trees are easy to take care of if we know how to prune and what to spray to avoid insect and diseases.
gardening is my hobby

cynthia_h
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It sounds as if you have an excellent tree for *learning how to prune it yourself*! Since $$$$ is incredibly expensive....

Please have your daughter post the photos according to the guidelines the webmaster has provided at https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3724 so that (probably) JONA can get you started. After all, there's nothing you can do to make the tree worse, so working on it will help, no matter what you do.

Rejuvenating a neglected tree can take three years. At least, the two trees (both of them figs) that I personally have brought back into order took three years. It's not adviseable to remove more than one-third of any plant at one time, and I was reluctant to remove more than one-fourth of the branches of either of these trees at any one time.

The first year on Trees #1 and #2, I removed no *major* branches, but many, many secondary ones, all the crossing ones, suckers, water sprouts, and otherwise undesireable growth. The second year, I reduced the height/length of the *most* undesireable main branches, and the third year, I reduced the height/length of the remaining main branches.

All the while keeping in mind that the June (smaller) crop grows on the previous year's wood, while the September (larger) crop grows on the current year's wood. The owners of both fig trees wanted production to be as continuous as possible during the rejuvenation process, since there's nothing as sweet as a fully ripened fig. (Getting to eat it yourself is another proposition entirely, since the birds know about this sweetness, too...)

Please let us see the photos so that you can "learn" on the apple tree and be ready for the pear-apples when they need pruning later on.

Cynthia

DoubleDogFarm
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$1500. :roll: Crazy talk!


Eric

JONA878
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Ye Gods.....I think I should depart straight away if I could get that amount for pruneing apple trees.
Were on earth do they dig those amounts from?

As Cynthia says.. it can take up to three years to rejuvanate an old tree and is usually down to common sense and just a little careful thought as to what to cut and how much.

Almost always on great old trees the work needed is based quite low down in the tree and is a few large cuts each year to reastablish a working frame on the tree.
Don't give up sunflower...just get those pictures ....please.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Sunflower7
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cynthia_h, thank for your concern. Problem is my apple trees are diseased and my old age, I really don't want to be bothered with tall trees knowing every year, I must hire people to prune.
With money I end up paying to people for pruning, I can buy more than enough organic fresh apples for life because I have organic fruits and vegetable delivering service call 'Door to Door organic fruits/vegetable delivery' in winter time.

I am thinking about planting miniture or dwarf apple trees to replace my diseased trees but it is necessary for me to check soil before plant new trees because I don't want new trees to have same disease.
Needless to say, diseases can be controled by spraying.
I just don't want to spend $$$ to hire people knowing there is no guarantee to have decent fruits.
Dwarf apple trees grow 8'-10'. I wish I can find miniture apple trees to bear enough apples.
Single stemed apple trees only grow 8' but not enough fruits.
Training apple trees horizontally is interesting.
Maybe I should try.
Oh, I am confused what I really want now.
One thing is sure, I don't want tall standard size trees anymore.

DoubleDogFarm, thank you for reading my message.
I know it is too much.
Pruning 2 Asian pears, 2 apple trees, and one persimmon tree is $1500.
I guess when people are professional, they can ask for top $$$$$ plus one of my apple tree is super giant and takes long hours to prune.
Like I said, I cannot afford it.
gardening is my hobby

JONA878
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You say that your trees are diseased Sunflower...what is the disease?
Unless it is soil based there is no reason why you cannot re-plant on the same sites, and even then if the trees you plan to plant are high worked on their union they should be ok.

As to age ...I'm 71 but still quite able to deal with my oldest trees which are over 80 years old.

As to time taken.
Just because a tree is tall it doesn't mean that it will take hours to prune.
I don't think that you would want such a tree to be spur pruned which would be the only method to take such a long time.

When you talk of single stem trees I guess you mean columnia trees.?
Pretty trees but still very limited in their varieties...and expensive.

A standard centre leader tree growing eight to ten feet and with a six foot spread all round would give you up to 60 odd pounds of fruit each year.What could be easier?

Still think those old girls are worth having a go at though....
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Sunflower7
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Cynthia_h, thank you for your concern.
My main reason to get rid of huge apple tree is thousands of diseased branches
and after spending $$$$, there is no gurantee for this tree to have decent fruits.

My daughter didn't come home to help me to post picture but if I can find somebody else to help me to post it, I am going to post.

DoubleDogFarm, Yes, $1500 is too high despite he said $1500 including pruning 2 apple trees, 2 Asion pear trees, and one persimmon tree.
I love cute animal friends you have!
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Sunflower7
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JONA878, 2 years ago, I sent sample of diseased leaves to Penn State department of pathology.
Result of test was 'anthracnose leaf spot caused by the fungus Colletotrichum Sp'.
Last night, I was looking at DWARF 'Red Delicious' and 'Heritage delicious apple trees on Starkbros catalog.
These trees grow 8'-10'
Another choice is 4-on-1 trees. This apple tree has Red Delicious, McIntosh, yellow gold delicious, and Nrothan Spy.
I really atempted to buy this because self pollinating, hand grafted on DWARF ROOT STOCK. Just like having apple orchard on just one tree.
In your opinion, which is better choice?

You and I are almost same age.
Last edited by Sunflower7 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JONA878
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Hi Sunflower.

This disease that you have on your trees is one from a group of fungal problems that effect many plants.
In apples and pears it shows itself as the fungus called Scab. This is a very common problem of top fruit trees and unless you are prepared to spray your trees constantly it is something that growers have to tollerate to some extent as most trees will be effected to some degree. The fruit may be a little scabby but the taste is not affected.
The secret to help control the fungus is to keep the tree open and airy.
The fungus sporolates....spreads its spores...when the weather is warm and damp, so the drier you can keep your tree the better.
So although your trees have the problem...it is not the end of the world for them.



As regard the new trees you are thinking to plant.
The easiest by far is to plant single variety trees.
Multi variety trees are a novelty to grow and can be a great success....but...you have to maintain a tight control over the various types on your tree.
If one variety should grow a lot stronger than the others then in a very few years the whole tree can become dominated by that variety. So careful pruning is needed.
Single variety trees need not take up a huge amount of space, and with careful choice of rootstocks care of them can be very simple to do.

By the way...nearly all the golden based varieties ...Red Del.etc are very prone to scab and will need at least a little spray protection in some years.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

DoubleDogFarm
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Single variety trees need not take up a huge amount of space, and with careful choice of rootstocks care of them can be very simple to do.
Well said. :D

Eric

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You may want to do some reserch on the effects of copper on apple trees. I read a article many years ago that said many states lacked copper in the soil and a lack of copper effects production especially with older trees!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

DoubleDogFarm
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Frank,

You have to be careful. I've also read that what looks like a copper deficiency is a over application of nitrogen.


Eric

Sunflower7
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Jona878, you are very knowledgeable about fruit trees and I appreciate your explanation about different kinds of apple trees.
My daughter called me from New York and asked me to save huge apple tree because our cats love to climb on.
I told her that our cats can climb on other apple tree on my vegetable garden.

DoubleDogFarm, your fruit tree doesn't look funny at all.
Yes, horizontal branches have fruits but vertical branches need to remove.
Sometimes, when I read back what I typed, I need to correct myself because of carelessness of typo and grammar.
People who were born and raised in English speaking country are lucky.
I lived in USA long enough but still struggle with English language.

About 10 years ago, my Asian pear trees had fireblight and I had to remove many infected branches after I disinfected shears.
My over application of Nitrogen in early spring was cause of fireblight.

Bobberman, you and I live in same state.
Last edited by Sunflower7 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 5:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Bobberman
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That is something since me favorite plant is a sunflower. Need some free sunflower seeds. I have plenty. I read more about apple trees because I plante three in the last three years. My one tree has 3 different apples on it and should do better this year.
+++I put leaves around the small apple trees to protect them from the cold! I am going to look into the copper sulfate solution to protect from disease this year on my 2 bigger apple trees! Apples have spots and rot and some are very nice. Any suggestions!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

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applestar
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Today was My daughter's birthday and I haven't been able to spend much time here in the last couple of days. Sunflower7, I'm sorry to read about your predicament.

Single most important recommendation I can make is to research the prevalent diseases in your area and, when buying new fruit trees, to choose varieties/cultivars with SPECIFIC RESISTANCE to the most common diseases.

I highly recommend Adams County Nusery website for apple variety as well as some other fruit variety RESEARCH. They have downloadable disease resistance charts with point system for each disease. Their pollination charts are pretty useful too.

Caveat: I have not actually purchased from them due to large quantity minimum order requirement. They are located in Pennsylvania. If you live near them, I believe you Have more options.

Sunflower7
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Bobberman, most people love sunflowers.
I know seeds of sunflower have nutritional value and seasoned roasted sunflower seeds are good snack.

Applestar, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUR DAUGHTER!
I am so glad you reminded me to choose disease free apple tree suited in our area.
Last night, I was searching for landscape pole saw and I almost decided to order HAYAUCHI sILKY 179-39 telescoping one.
It is very expensive but superior product and man who came to see my fruits trees was so happy to have HAYAUCHI products.
My husband thinks I need electric one because it is much easier to finish job.
What is your opinion?
People, I'd like to hear your opinion too.
What kind of telescoping lanscape saw do you have?
I cannot afford $1500 pruning fee but I don't mind to spend superior gardening tools knowing I can use every year.

I also need to buy untreated lumber to make raised bed in my vegetable garden.
Do you have any suggestion about what kind of lumber is reasonable price and best?
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