jewels07
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Severly pruned apple trees....not sure they will make it?

Hi Folks,

My boyfriend decided to prune our apple trees down to the nub. He took all branches off. The two trees I'm guessing are 5-7 years old. I told him not to do it, and explained the growth comes from the little spurs on the branches and that we just needed to thin it and take unhealthy branches off but he insisted that the whole thing needed to be hacked and wouldn't' listen to me.

He claims he did this with a friends tree and it didn't bare as much fruit but came back really healthy.

Will the trees make it? I'm so sad about this. :( Is there anything I can do to help the tree? I realize it probably won't bare any apples this next season and that energy will go towards new growth if it survives.

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PunkRotten
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Got a pic of it? As long as there are some growth buds left the tree will come back. He is right that pruning is healthy for the tree. If these trees were old and had a lot of unhealthy wood this was the best thing to do. It also helps with size management. You're right it will be a season or more before you see fruit again. Do yearly pruning to keep your trees healthy. What you can do to help the tree is give it a nice fertilizer as soon as it breaks dormancy.

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applestar
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Not sure where we are without seeing some pictures, but I've only heard of buckhorn pruning -- if that's what he did -- citrus trees and avocado trees so far after pretty obsessive Internet searching of fruit tree pruning techniques over the last four years or so.

You CAN pretty much POLLARD apple trees but that I believe is usually done with old neglected trees that have lost production vigor due to significant neglect, and not so young as 5-7 yr old trees (?)

I have to note, though, that most pruning books caution not to remove more than 1/4 to 1/3 of each branch when making heading cuts and not more than 1/4 to 1/3 of entire branches when making thinning cuts, and not remove more than 1/3 of the entire tree at a time. Otherwise, you can send them into "shock".

-- yeah, mostly "book" knowledge with smattering of experience with my own few trees in the last several years -- folks with more hands-on experience may be able to advise better on the specifics... But here goes :wink:

The theory with deciduous trees is that when they are pruned while dormant, all the energy that had been sent down from the leaves and stored in the roots in the fall will now be concentrated in growing the remaining branches and growing buds. So you get vigorous re-growth in spring and during the growing season. Latent buds that would not have grown before will be forced into growth.

Assuming correct precautions were taken not to introduce any diseases due to cutting larger limbs and these trees remain healthy, if they have been pollarded, what you can expect is A LOT of shoots explosively growing all over the trees this spring. And these need to be carefully thinned to create a new desirable scaffold/branch architecture for the trees.

I believe some apples bear fruit on the branch tips, but even then, the fruiting buds I think develop from existing buds from last year's growth. Typically though, I believe the goal is to develop fruiting spurs along established scaffold branches. What kind of apple varieties do you have?

As for care, you may need to be extra cautious of diseases and burrowing pests entering the cut surfaces, and be on the look out for pests that will target the tender new buds and shoots. You may not be able to use as strong measures on them... I'm not sure.

Mostly, I would spread compost if you didn't in the fall and mulch well. Don't feed excessively (if at all...) -- compost should be enough since all that energy is going to come back up from the roots, and overfertilizing can lead to weak pest-ridden growths -- and be prepared to prune carefully this season. Maybe your boyfriend knows what he plans to do?

In my humid summer climate, I have a period during early - late summer when fireblight is a significant threat and I shouldn't prune. Do you have to watch out for that too?

jewels07
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Thank you for the reply's/info.

I will try the fertilizer when it breaks dormancy.

I'm not sure what type of apples these tree's produce. All I know one has green apples, good size and not to tart in season and the other a sweet red apple. I know that doesn't help much but we moved here about 6 months ago and inherited the tress so I'm just not sure.

As far as how much he cut...well you can see below.

Thankfully we did not see the fire blight problem here in the trees, sorry to hear you've had that problem.

Image

Image

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applestar
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These are definitely older than 5-7 yr old trees. And the severity was not as bad as I had pictured. :D

My recommendation was NOT to fertilze but to spread a layer of compost -- specifically few inches from the base of the tree all the way out to (what would be) the tree's drip line, then mulch well -- preferably with organic (i.e. not synthetic) mulch. :wink:

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PunkRotten
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Looks ok to me too it will definitely grow back.

jewels07
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That makes me feel so much better. Glad to know they should be okay.

From what I had read and the way I've watched neighbors prune their trees it seemed so severe.

I was just mentioning the fertilizing after they come out of dormancy as punkrotten had suggested.

Mulching sounds like a good idea....will do.

Thanks so much for the feedback.

JONA878
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I would add one other thing Jewels...don't do any other further cuttting until you have established what variety you actually have there.

As Star says..there are many Vars that are tip bearers ...most of the triploids are....so any pruning done has to take into account the fact that you will be cutting off fruiting buds.

Your tree will probably grow away with great vigour now and it will be next year that you see the first sign of fruiting wood, Good luck.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

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!potatoes!
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with al that cutting you'll probably have lots of watersprouts/vertical growth. i'd expect to need some june pruning to keep things somewhat in check. though, like jonah says, it should maybe wait until you know what you've got.

tomc
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I think I'd file the teeth off your boyfriends saw.

One problem you will have for the next few years is an overabundance of water (verticle) shoots. That will need to be pruned out.

Malus don't prune that well into broomstyle trees.

Keep the tree, give away the boyfriend.
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jewels07
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I definitely won't do anymore pruning until we see how it's growing out and know what we have, and I do want to be careful of not cutting off the fruiting buds. Though it sounds like the vertical sprouts are going to be a challenge.

tomc....I like the idea of filing off the teeth of boyfriends saw, though I will need it for the other two trees that need pruning, which I've suggested we tackle those much more conservatively. :wink:

My mother would agree with you on this,
Keep the tree, give away the boyfriend.
but that is a subject for a whole different forum.

Thanks to everyone for all the feedback, very helpful.

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ElizabethB
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Your BF really butchered your trees. So sorry. Kill his chain saw. Like break it up. This is a good link. You have to scroll down to get to the pruning section. Hopefully this will help you salvage your trees,

https://www.lsuagcenter.com/nr/rdonlyres ... ghres2.pdf

Good luck - hope you can salvage your trees.
Elizabeth - or Your Majesty

Living and growing in Lafayette, La.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Gkwilsongardens
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Tree Pruning

I think the pruning is quite severe but I think after about 3 years your tree will be fruiting again but you will need to take a few careful steps, you will get an abundance of soft whippy growth over the next 12 months so prune out all the weakest of growth and try to prune to shape, reduce the whippy growth by a third also, water regularly and feed and mulch also keep an eye out for pests and diseases and spray accordingly!!
Winner of "Best In Catergory" and Silver Gilt at RHS Tatton Park Flower Show 2012.

valley
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07, Living in Southern California your trees should have sprouts and leaves by now . Update your thread, pictures would be nice. Thanks

Richard

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Gary350
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The mistake most people make with fruit trees is NOT trimming the tree enough. What you have done is the best thing you could have done for the tree.

When I worked in the orchard 1968 the guys would trim the trees in November. I was told if you trim a tree too late in the season it will not make fruit that year.

When your tree starts making leaves wait about 2 weeks then start feeding the tree with nitrogen every 2 weeks with about 5 gallons of water each time. Urea works great, sprinkle about 1/2 of a cup evenly around the tree in a 10 ft diameter circle. Then water the ground with the garden hose. When the temperature outside gets above 85 degrees F no more fertilizer, water only. Do this every year.

Give the tree 1/2 cup of 15/15/15 fertilizer in the spring once a month until 85 deg weather.

You might get apples this year maybe a bushel basket full but next year you will probably get 10 bushel.

FULL SUN all day is the TRICK to getting ripe fruit. Not enough sun you still get 10 bushel of apples but the fruit will be as hard as a pine board.

Spray your tree ONCE a week with fruit tree spray. A 16 oz bottle will last all summer. Here is the link. You can probably find this cheaper at Farmers Co-op or your local garden center. Shake well before you turn on the water. A quick 60 second spray is all you need to have good fruit.

This is the type sprayer you need. It screws on to the end of your garden hose. You can buy the empty bottles at ACE HARDWARD. The sprayers are rated in volume per minute. Buy the low volume sprayer so you don't waste your spray. This thing will spray about 25 ft. Pour your fruit tree spray into the bottle then attach it to your garden hose. There is a lever on the bottle that turns it on and off. Spray a spot on the tree turn off the liquid walk about 5 steps to one side around the tree then spray some more. This link is the wrong sprayer but it gives you an idea what the bottle looks like. I think the sprayer is made by Ortho $5.

JONA878
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I would be a touch careful
The chemical above is a mixtuer of Captan, carbaryl and malathion.

Malathion is an Organophospherous compound. Very rarely used by growers as it is a killer to all ...good and bad. Also unless it attains full efficacy, resistance can build very quickly.
Captan is getting towards a banned substance as I understand it on both sides of the pond.....especially near to harvest as it is believed to be a carcnogenic.
Carbaryl is already banned in Eurupe for the same reason.

As to the Nitrogen. Avoid useing it around the period Pink bud through to June Drop. As it can cause the tree to drop excessive amounts of fruit if it gets into a rapid growth mode.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.



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