The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Growing => Fruit => Topic started by: Bodger on May 14, 2013, 09:07:36 pm

Title: Apple tree problem?
Post by: Bodger on May 14, 2013, 09:07:36 pm
I took these pictures this evening and I think that the pictures say it all. Here are the trees that I planted two years ago. They have plenty of leaves and blossom.

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Now here are my five year old trees, hardly any leaves and not a sign of blossom.
These trees are Kingston Blacks and Dabinetts. I had a good crop off the Kingstons last year but hardly a fruit from the Dabinett and they hardly produced any leaves.


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Kingston Blacks.

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I am quite concerned about my older trees and at a loss as to their behaviour. Anyone got any ideas? :scratch:
Title: Re: Apple tree problem?
Post by: Nortonhillbilly on May 14, 2013, 09:59:27 pm
I guess the first question is what kind of soil is it? Ideally apple trees like rich loam, slightly acid, so shallow chalk for example is always going to be a challenge. Heavy soils are ok if they don't get waterlogged and are betetr if you work in organuic matter before planting. We tried to keep grass away frommthe base of the trees ina  2 foot radius - I was told that the grass will take a lot of nitrogen from the soil and so you should keep competitive weeds and grass away untilt eh trees are welle stablished. We found however that the chickens made a bee line for this area and scratched away merrily, so eventually had to keep them out.
Title: Re: Apple tree problem?
Post by: Dan on May 14, 2013, 10:18:36 pm
What variety are the two year old trees? If they are a lot earlier cropping than the Dabinetts and Kingston Blacks that could explain it. Are there any fruit or leaf buds on the older trees?
Title: Re: Apple tree problem?
Post by: Scrumble The Goose on May 15, 2013, 08:09:31 am
I'd consider polination partners.
Have you a crab apple tree nearby, or moved / taken away any trees close by that could have been polination partners ?
Some varieties only fruit every other year,some only every three years, and have to have the correct conditions. I seem to recall that Dabinetts are one of these varieties.
I'd clear way the grass around the base of the trees and water well.
(You may want to consider testing the soil around the base of the trees, as the grass looks very green. This could mean that the  minerals around the base of the trees has been leached out by the grass, and the trees are deficient. Likewise if the roots have grown significantly into ground that is poor in minerals or very had lots of chickens in there?) 
Can you post what Rootstock these are on, and I'll have a look in my library of Cider / Apple books for you.
A aka Scrumble the Goose
Title: Re: Apple tree problem?
Post by: HesterF on May 17, 2013, 12:37:39 am
Yep, the base of the trees should be clear - about 1m around - there's a lot of grass competition there.

Also how have you pruned them? I'd be expecting to see more branching. If you want to promote vigour in weak trees, good pruning helps - the more you take off, the easier it is for the tree to focus its efforts in the part that's left. But that's normally for old trees that have lost their vigour through age. In your case you need to understand why such young trees are lacking vigour (although all trees should be pruned yearly, just less harsh if it's just for maintenance).

Only other thought is how long they have been cropping? My understanding is that you shouldn't let an apple tree bear any fruit at all for the first three years so that it gets a chance to get it's feet down and build up its frame. You sound like you've had at least a couple of crops before from them so I wonder whether that has made them slower to progress too?