AlwaysWantedA55
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Location: Twin Cities (Burnsville), MN

Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

Hi, last year I planted 4 semi-dwarf apple trees; Honeycrisp, Sweet 16 and Zestar. All produced fruit last year. This year, only the Sweet 16 had any blossoms at all, and probably only 4-5 total on a single branch. Any thoughts on whether there's a problem? Or is this typical for newly planted trees (each were about 6-7' tall when brought home, so I'll guess maybe 3 years old then?). Here's more detail:

I live by Minneapolis. The trees get about 8 hours total direct sun throughout the day Spring thru Summer; however, I noticed last fall that with the changing angle of the sun, that was reduced in the final weeks of the season. Last year, the first year the trees were in the ground, I thinned the fruit. I also pruned early in the season last year, but not at all in the Fall, and not at all this year. I have not fertilized the trees.

This year, the trees seem to be producing far more leaves than last year. Some of the leaves seem larger than what I recall from last year.

So back to my question. Any ideas why no flowering/fruit this year?

Thank you!

CharlieBear
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Re: Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

They may be growing. I am assuming since they are semi-dwarf they are not espaliered. The reason they fruited last year maybe that the nursery used heavy fertilizer on them to as it were force them. Without forcing, fruit trees usually don't produce much fruit in the first few years. They need to establish themselves and grow. Be sure they get at least 5 gallons of water each every week, unless it is raining hard until your fall rains begin. While you lighting is not ideal, what you are seeing now sounds like normal behavior for those trees. As for pruning the rule of thumb is no more that 25-30% in any year. Also, the current agricultural view on fruit trees is to open bowl prune them as that produces the strongest trees. As for time of pruning actually very early spring before the buds begin to swell or during the time period between about july 15 and Aug 15 are usually the best times to prune. Spring pruning promotes more rapid growth, which in an older tree can lead to more water shoots. The summer pruning is harder to do because of the leaves and when the trees are old the fruit that you have a hard time sacrificing, however the trees heal the fastest then. Pruning in the fall is harder on the trees as they heal slower and adds to the risk of disease setting in. If the leaves look good and they are growing, I would say be patient. Let the trees mature a little. I have 14 dwarf and ultra dwarf apple trees. The newest ones have only 3-6 apples on them this year after June drop. The most prolific apple varieties started out with 2 dozen or so apples and then more each year until they got up to speed.

JONA
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Re: Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

Hi,
Just a few points to add.
Both Sweet16 and Zestar are triploids. This means they are are not capable of pollinating another tree but need polination themselves. So...they are both relying on your Honeycrisp to pollinate them.
As it had no blossom this year that was the answer to one problem.
Fruit bud production relies on several things.
The tree must not be too vigorous in its growth...it produces wood instead of fruit. So keep the pruning light until the trees settle.
The fruit bud is produced on the tree in the late summer. It needs good light and as said, not too strong a growth. Tying down branches to get good light on them can be a great benefit in the first few years of growing. It also makes the training of the tree so much easier, as it slows down the growth rate along that branch.
Honeycrisp has Golden Delicious parentage and as such is normally a very good cropper...so give it time and you should be rewarded.
John

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sweetiepie
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Location: York, ND (Zone 3b)

Re: Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

I don't know if in MN you experienced the snow and then the late killing frost and freeze the end of May but that set back almost all of my fruit trees. Most had blossoms froze off or they are very slow to even leaf out. I am just happy they survived. I have heard it was not a very nice spring for fruit trees in general around here. So if that happened to you, next year should be better.

AlwaysWantedA55
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Location: Twin Cities (Burnsville), MN

Re: Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

Thanks everyone for the great information!

JONA
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Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:11 am
Location: Sussex. England

Re: Almost no blossoms on apple trees this year

Another thought has come through........neither the Sweet or the Zestar can pollinate your Honeycrisp....so if there are no other apple trees near you then you may have to buy another tree.
Any Malus will do the trick if you have enough apples.
John

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