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Author Topic: bumper crop  (Read 3413 times)


  • Joined Nov 2008
bumper crop
« on: July 21, 2018, 09:00:03 pm »
I have had a very good crop of strawberries this year. Made jam today and the rest in the freezer. I have blackcurrants coming on also and they are planned for jelly. My apple trees on the other hand are very poor. 3 trees, 3 apples. Only one has every given me a decent crop of apples the other 2 I bought from Dobies and they must be 3/4 years here but nothing. all are cooking apples. Is that my problem. Should I buy a differnt tree, maybe a eating apple. I have been watering them. They are about 8ft high now and had plenty of blossom in May. Look in good health.


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 09:39:54 am »
Berry crop here (mid wales) outstanding; I've given up picking blackcurrants - a shame and waste I know but no passing trade and I decided why bother with the work after giving away a kilo or so in town. I have fewer numbers of red and white currant bushes and just about picked them clean. It's a sad fact that postage to relatives would cost as much as them buying them local to themselves.The blueberry crop is amazing ..most years i fight the birds for a few but I have kilos in the freezer and leaving space for other fruits. I'm also experimenting with red, black and blue infused gins ;D
Apples I thought were lower in number this year but they seemed to set later and I'll have a glut of those as usual. Even my young pear trees are performing.
If you have problems with apples then down to a few causes... wrong varieties for your area, a late frost or a soil problem or late insects or too exposed. I'm no expert but would always advocate variety. While I love cooked apples i only have a couple of cooker trees as such... many apples are multipurpose and avoid the need for added sugar.
With the variety of roostocks and pruning options (touting my espaliers and cordons again) there is no excuse for not havng heaps of varieties even in urban areas... step-over apples around flower beds, family apple trees or ballerinas and cordons. And never forget pears... eat too many apples and get the squits but pears don't do that so much.
Plums and gages doing sorta OK (young trees). My one peach fell off and there's three apricots this year! Oddly the hedgerow sloes and damsons are poorly set though my orchard damsons are as mad as ever (exposure? late frost?)


  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 10:41:34 am »
Hi Sabrina - am I right in think you are in Aberdeenshire?
Anyway I'm in the shire in a pretty exposed area but this year our fruit trees have performed really well - at least up to now!
We have a mixture of apple trees - some old, some very old and several planted by us over the past 10 years or so. We have pears and a mix of eaters, mixed use, cookers and crab. Some years the flowers appear but the insects don't,  some years the set fruit is blasted off by dessicating winds and frost. We planted a victoria plum that shot up to a great height but has never produced fruit until this year. Last year we decided to hard prune all the fruit trees - pretty drastic it looked too! It seems to havepaid off helped by the good weather perhaps.
I plant blueberries in the polytunnel and this is the first year we have beaten the blackbirds to the crop. Our peach tree in the tunnel has produced it's first 2 ripe fruits this season with the promise of lots more. The grapes are coming along nicely as well. I've gone for quality rather than quantity and have pruned, cut back and removed lots of extraneous foliage and small fruits.
Back outside again and the rasps seem very small this year - lack of water maybe. Dessert gooseberries are doing well though. Red and blackcurrant are a lost cause every year to the bird population. Even the cherry which I transplanted from the polytunnel has a couple of fruits this time - blackbirds scored again.

My most miserable and expensive failure has been my strawberries - brand new sets planted in new compost and were growing nicely until mice decide they would strip the new green leaves and kill the plants. Mousetraps were deployed so I've had a minor victory.  The plants that were left have sent out lots of runners so I can hopefully replant this autumn.

We certainly get our 5 a day here!!


  • Joined Jul 2011
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 02:54:30 pm »
If you have bueberries in the polytunnel then I'd have thought a mesh door would keep birdies away?
As I wrote the birdies left me my soft fruit crop this year althugh today was the first day I spotted one stripping he smallest blueberry berry bush. I did cage a couple of my best bushes with soem temporray stuff and plan to make portable cages for next year. A fruit cage for the whole area would cost way more than buying the stuff but I;ve come up with a compromise... using cheapish roof tiling lathes and small size chicken wire I propose making up 5ft high by 3 wide panels which will clip together like sheep hurdles around a couple of my best blueberry bushes and some lower ones around my best redcurrants. 4-6 panels with a simple roofing panel will do each bush and cost isn't too bad. Birds here leave the blackcurrants until they've gone way overripe. Having the panels just temporary and storable avoids all the isses of keeping grass cut around the bushes or having a mess of weeds through the mesh.


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2018, 04:29:45 pm »
I have my main bed of strawberrys in my pollytunnel and they do so much better than the outside bed. The veg garden where my apple trees are is quite sheltered. I will give the 2 bigger ones another year and if no apples will take them out and try a plum tree. The other apple tree I bought local and has done better in the past. The idea is apples for the pigs, wine making and anything in the pie range is also nice. I am only 9 miles from Turriff where a friend has loads of apples every year from her trees. Picked more blackcurrants today and now in the freezer until I have them all then will make the jelly. I put my blueberry bush out in the garden in the Spring, very few fruit on it this year so maybe not happy with the move.


  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2018, 01:15:44 am »
Apple trees really only star producing when they are about seven years old.
 If yo nave only planted them insituation withing he last thre or four years  it will tke another couple for them to start producing .
 Feed the soil for a 2 mtr dia ring around each tree with two barrow loads of well composted manures & straw  use it as a mulch & water it well a couple of times to get the moisture leeching into the ground . Come autumn give them another feed of one barrow of composted manures &  straw , then in spring lightly rake it in the soil before adding another barrow load .

 If your soil is heavy cold clay you'll need to add some granules of lime to help break up the clay add them a month after adding the manure mulch .

 Staking the trees  is also to be recommended .
In the past I've used an angled pointed roofing batten hammered at 45 degrees  so it crosses the trunk of the tree at about 3 foot from the ground . Then tied the tree to the stake with a length of old cycle inner tube  ensuring that the tube  prevents the stake from rubbing on the tree . By the time the stakes had rotted the rubber had perished 7 the trees were giving lots of quality apples  .

   Keep an eye on weather forecasts    If a frost is predicted or your feel it will freeze cover the saplings with an old cotton sheet overnight to try to prevent the frost killing off the buds .

Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: where 2nd-home owners rule !
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2018, 09:26:11 pm »
[member=467]sabrina[/member] - Re your apples:  there could be many reasons why your apples are not performing.  However, since you mention that they all blossom well in May, a mis-match of flowering periods won't be the answer. 

Could you advise please on the varieties you have?  (I'm thinking you might not be 100% sure of the original apple variety, but probably can tell whether it's more like a Bramley or more like a Granny Smith.) 

If you can remember, or still have the Dobies' tree labels for the later 2 plantings, was/is the type of rootstock mentioned, e.g M106, M25, M9 etc ?


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2018, 08:40:34 am »
The trees are Bramley apples. The first one i bought from my local garden center it did well the first year I had it but since then very poor ( 5 apples this year. ) The 2 from Dobies have never had apples and are now about 8/10ft high no labels to check. i am wondering if i should give them a good prune ? A few weeks ago i bought a James Grieve apple tree still in a pot at the moment and it has 12 apples on it. Our soil is clay, maybe need a special fruit tree feed ? I have just finish picking the black currents and they have done well. They are next to the apple trees would this cause a problem ? At a loss of what to do.


  • Joined Jan 2018
  • Herefordshire/Shropshire Border
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2018, 10:15:09 am »
Our apples are about 50/50 this year, ie half of them have LOADS of fruit and the rest have none.  Different varieties that were flowering at different times and the impact of the never-ending winter weather is what I have put it down to. 

We only have a handful of walnuts too, but loads of hazel nuts. 

Virtually no strawberries - but I think that may have been due to the local birds! 


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: where 2nd-home owners rule !
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2018, 09:35:13 pm »
 Ah!  Bramley is a triploid variety (with 3 sets of chromosomes rather the normal 2, ie. diploid) and is self-infertile and cannot pollinate other apples:   as things stand you will have been dependent on insects passing on pollen gathered from any diploid apples (wild or otherwise) in surrounding area.  However, your new James Grieve (a partially self-fertile diploid variety) should sort things out as it is should blossom at about the same time thereby pollinating itself and the Bramleys.  However, planting yet another diploid variety (whether self-fertile or self-infertile) in flowering group 3 or 4 (I would suggest) will help ensure the JG crops well in due course and of course also contribute to pollinating the Bramleys while being pollinated itself by the JG.

Regarding rootstock: the type of rootstock will affect the potential for first cropping on young trees.  I doubt very much that your Bramleys are on very dwarfing rootstock and would bet they are grafted onto M106 rootstock (for medium size reduction), but they might be on something like M25 for a larger tree. On M106 you are probably in the “window” for 1st cropping (as long as you have a donor tree for pollen nearby);  on something like M25 rootstock cropping might be a bit iffy just yet on the younger trees.

You should definitely be pruning all your trees routinely and from the outset: a winter pruning as standard, but I personally recommend a summer pruning also (late July say), particularly for vigorous varieties like Bramley.  Summer pruning is traditionally reserved for trained apples, e.g. espalier training, but I recommend a summer hair-cut for free-standing trees also.  It helps the sun get in for fruit ripening (when you have some!) and can induce tree to turn more of this year’s new buds into flowering buds for next year.  To note, Bramley is semi-tip bearing so will produce some flowering buds on the end (or near the end) of shoots as well as on established fruiting spurs – so, to help maximise cropping, go light on pruning-out new Bramley shoots, particularly lateral shoots anything less than about 8 to 9”, except where you want to thin out to avoid congestion or to maintain shape or to contain tree size.  JG is a spur bearer so you can prune new growth without worrying quite so much about where you want fruit buds/spurs to develop in future.

Finally, I’m going to throw in a partial counter to cloddopper’s regime for feeding apple trees:  if a fruit tree is too happy with its lot in life, it might not bother much about “reproducing” itself via the production of fruit/seed.  ‘Tis said that a stressed or diseased/dying tree will put more of its resources into producing fruit/seed than into producing more vegetative growth.  On the other hand, stressing a tree too much will reduce its ability to fight off diseases naturally.   

 [I would mention that I have gardening clients with apples and black currants growing side by side very successfully - I don't think that is any part of your problem.]
« Last Edit: August 16, 2018, 09:50:52 pm by arobwk »


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2018, 09:44:03 pm »
Thanks for all the advice and I will prune the 3 trees. For the past 3 years I have given them manure over the winter months and I did wonder if maybe this was my problem as the trees grew and thickened quite a lot.


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: where 2nd-home owners rule !
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2018, 08:37:20 pm »
Maybe, maybe not Sabrina, given that Bramley is a vigorous variety anyway.  It will depend on the type of soil you have and how (inherently) rich it is in nutrients.  But soil testing is a chore, so unless it leaches readily or is heavy clay, I would suggest simply going easy on the "mulching" for now and see what happens next year.  (Of course, with the JG in situ, cropping should improve next year anyway, on the original Bramley at least, with or without a fertilizing mulch!)  After that, monitor health and growth rate and adjust your "mulching" accordingly. 
(One of my clients mulches with garden compost twice a year;  2 other clients don't bother and they still have more than enough apples. There is no strict formula.)
When planting your new JG, don't add fertilizer to the planting hole:  however, if your soil needs a humus boost, perhaps add a bit of garden compost well mixed with the surrounding soil. 

Enough from me - over and out (unless cloddopper should decide to give me a going over for suggesting a cut-back on the fertilizer for a while :D :D )   


  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2018, 08:14:12 am »
during the drought we had an amazing crop of berries off the fruit bushes, best we've had in years. Alas the day I planned to pick them the birds got them during the night, presumably, so never saw a single one left  ::)

Blackberries are coming along well also :)
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

Lesley Silvester

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: bumper crop
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2018, 10:57:40 pm »
during the drought we had an amazing crop of berries off the fruit bushes, best we've had in years. Alas the day I planned to pick them the birds got them during the night, presumably, so never saw a single one left  ::)

 :roflanim: Isn't that just typical. They were obviously watching like you were for them to be ready. We had some of our jostaberries before we went away, thinking I'd pick some more when we got back but the birds had had the same thought. The bush is now bare of anything but leaves.


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