Bokashi
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Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Doing a search in the forum I found the following answer to apple trees that alternate fruiting years:
damethod wrote:Some fruit trees have a habit of 'alternate bearing'. Meaning they will produce a huge crop one year, then little to none the next. If that is the case, you'll have another large crop next year.
My question is if anyone knows if alternating fruiting is part of the plant species or if nutrition or another method can "force" the tree to fruit yearly?

I love canning applesauce each year but don't like having to beg the neighbors to pick theirs every other year... :D
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JONA878
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Bi=annual bearing......the correct term for this sort of cropping on apples ..... is caused by two things.

The first is when the trees have been affected by outside sources.
This is where cultural reasons have caused the problem.....bad pruning, over cropping, frost damage to the preceding years crop ,etc. The major one here being over cropping.

The second though is that some varieties, no matter how hard you try to alter them, will consistently revert to bi-annual bearing.
Two that comes to my mind straight away are Millers Seedling and Blenheim Orange. We have deliberately planted Blenheim on separate years and for just a while they have cropped alternatively to give us a steady crop. Then they have chatted to each other and somehow reverted to the same cropping system and given large crops one year and just a few fruits the next no matter how hard we have tried to break the trend.

It's what can make growing fruit so darn interesting and frustrating.
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tomc
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Will reducing crop also reduce biennial cropping? I dunno, but its good for your tree.

As in it will reduce breaking limbs and other stressors.

Planting more than one cultivar [and watering all in drouth is probably as important as anything else you do to an apple.
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Bokashi
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

I've been in this house for 5 years and I've reduced pruning the tree to see if it made a difference but got one apple this year :( I suspect it had a history of poor pruning well before I came along that perhaps conditioned it this way. I wish I knew the variety. There are two trees and both flower/fruit on the same years so it's probably the variety.

Good apples though, and when I do get them make cracker jack pies...

Thanks!
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tomc
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

I guess my last sermon is: Mulch, mulch, mulch. A clean space free of drops, brush, weeds, will go a long way with that mulch to help feed an apple.
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applestar
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Just curious about the chain of events -- the trees in question bloom, make little green apples, then drop them all on alternate years when they "don't fruit"?
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imafan26
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

While there are only a few apple growing here we also have problems mostly with lychee of alternate bearing years. It seems that it has to do with the El Nino and La Nina. In LaNina years when it is cooler, the lychee bear better and the mangoes worse and the opposite is the case with El Nino. The El Nino cycles about every two years and that is consistent with the cycling of the fruiting trees. If it doesn't get cold enough no amount of fertilizer or girdling (which is the most common practice here for improving fruiting by stressing a tree), makes much difference.
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JONA878
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

imafan26 wrote:While there are only a few apple growing here we also have problems mostly with lychee of alternate bearing years. It seems that it has to do with the El Nino and La Nina. In LaNina years when it is cooler, the lychee bear better and the mangoes worse and the opposite is the case with El Nino. The El Nino cycles about every two years and that is consistent with the cycling of the fruiting trees. If it doesn't get cold enough no amount of fertilizer or girdling (which is the most common practice here for improving fruiting by stressing a tree), makes much difference.

Hi Imafan.
Interesting to hear that 'girdling' is still used to control tree growth over there. This was used a lot here many years ago before better controlling root stocks were available. It was known as 'Bark ringing'.
On the modern 'intensive' plantings that are being used nowadays the same principle is being used by root cutting on alternative sides of the trees every few years.
Fully mechanised machines to do the job now, so no back breaking work!!
I guess the perfect growing conditions there make for a very rapidly growing tree, and as you say, not enough cold-temp for fruit initiation to take place...so all the tree has to do, is grow.
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Bokashi
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

applestar wrote:Just curious about the chain of events -- the trees in question bloom, make little green apples, then drop them all on alternate years when they "don't fruit"?
The "off" years result in 0 flowers whatsoever. The on years produce a plethora of them and a good number fall before harvest.
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JONA878
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Bokashi wrote:
applestar wrote:Just curious about the chain of events -- the trees in question bloom, make little green apples, then drop them all on alternate years when they "don't fruit"?
The "off" years result in 0 flowers whatsoever. The on years produce a plethora of them and a good number fall before harvest.

If you can't find the variety Bokashi then try to do a very heavy thinning on the ' on year'. It may well be that the tree has just got into the habit of bi-annual cropping through over production on its 'on' year.
By heavy thinning I mean taking the fruit down to only one or two fruits per cluster and at least six inches between clusters.
Do this when the fruit has finished its usual drop period ...around 6-8 weeks after full bloom.

I understand that over your side of the pond Sevin ( Carbaryl ) is still in common use. This chemical has the side effect that if applied to the fruit when it has reached around 12mm in size ( large cherry size ) it can act as a thinning agent to the fruit and could save you a great deal of work. Once the fruit gets bigger than this its effect diminishes considerable. Use it though only on these very heavy fruit sets to avoid too great a drop of fruit.
You also get the benefit of the chemicals insecticide properties for early moth and late aphid.

HOWEVER.....this is a dangerous chemical...banned in Europe completely....but we do miss it due to its use as a great thinner.
An apple a day.....keeps me in work.

Bokashi
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Re: Alternating Year Apple Fruiting Issues - force fruiting

Thanks for the tip, I'll look into that and try a heavy thinning in the spring.

thanks!
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