ReptileAddiction wrote:I am sorry but I strongly disagree with Gary. Fertilizing an apple tree every week is ridiculous. I recommend fertilizing once a year in the spring then using compost the rest of the year as a mulch. If you fertilize every week then 95% of it will not even be used by the tree. I also highly disagree with using peat. It is a non renewable resource that has very little nutritional value. Your tree will do much better if you use compost which will also improve your soil. Furthermore when peat dries out it is very hard to re-moisten so the water will just run off.
I do agree though with removing the central leader and just overall getting the tree size down. I also agree that the chickens need to be kept away from the trees. I would do a small fence 3 feet out from the tree in all directions. Goodluck!
Jeffross1968 says he has clay soil. Where I lived in TN the soil was clay, my apple tree made no apples without fertilizer. 1/2 cup of fertilizer once a week is not a big deal for a tree that size, the plant will starve to death in poor soil. The best he can do for the tree is cover the ground with 6" peat moss and compost and fertilize so the roots will grow up into it. I almost forgot to mention not to fertilize when the summer temperature gets above 80 degrees. Fertilize in the spring starting as soon as the tree starts to make leaves then no fertilizer after it gets hot. Then fertilizes a couple of times in the fall.
I'm afraid its a big mistake to think that clay makes for the need for greater requirements for fertiliser.
The clay colloid is in fact one of the best types of soil for retaining fertiliser as it does not leach the nutrients out anywhere near so quickly as the lighter soils do.
Yes it will water log easier and needs more attention in the first few years of a trees growth....but once the tree is established it will make control of the growth of the tree much easier.
Also it usually is a more neutral soil as regards PH.
We grow our orchards here on the Sussex Wealden clay....and it don't get much denser than that stuff.
Providing the soil is given plenty of organic material added at planting there should be no need for fertiliser other than an annual topping up with a general mixture and a good mulching to help keep moisture in the soil.
Excess of nitrogen in the soil....and chicken manure can rapidly give this....will induce the tree to grow too strongly at the expense of producing fruit bud. Also large amounts of nitrogen in the fruit will affect the storage quality of the fruit and may well assist the cause of Bitter Pit problems in some varieties, although Calcium deficiency is the main culprit.
If a tree appears to need a rapid pick-me-up in the summer months through heavy crop etc. then a quick response can be given by a direct spray of Urea of liquefied sea weed extract.