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Caring for Apple & pear trees

 
 
Montana
 
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 04:33 pm
I have some apple trees and 2 pear trees that I have no clue how to care for. The trees were here when we bought the house and I am just starting to think about them now. My neighbor and I were looking at the trees awhile ago and he agreed to do some of the work so we could share the apples. The problem is that neither one of us have any clue how to care for them. Worms are the worst problem we have. Any help would be appreciated.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,947 • Replies: 16
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 05:30 pm
Hi Gezzy! You need to get a product called dromant oil. You spray it on the trees in the early Spring while they are still dormant. Here is a recipe for a "less toxic dormant oil." http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/x/experts/tribune-review/news/s_145964.html
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 06:05 pm
Thanks Swimpy. I appreciate that. You wouldn't know anything about pruning them by any chance?
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 06:06 pm
By the way Swimpy, who is that in your avatar? I've been meaning to ask you.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 06:12 pm
LOL! Swimpy, that link led me to a story about a couple who won the power ball lottery. If I won that kind of money I'd hire someone to do the trees ;-)
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Portal Star
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 06:18 pm
Swimpy-
I forget, who did the portrait that is your icon? It's an American painter, I think, but I forget who.
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Ruach
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 07:37 pm
I sounds like you have neglected trees. When pruning you want to open up the tree, which means pruning so the inner tree and growth is not crowded.
Prune moderately for two or three years, remove dead, diseased, and dying wood , lower the height of the tree and reduce overcrowding. Cut off old pruning stubs if there is any.
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 07:51 pm
Thank you very much Ruach. That helps a lot.
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Ruach
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2003 08:53 pm
I might also add that fruit trees are hard to keep in good shape. They are very prone to disease. The oil sprays recommended and the insecticidal sprays need to be used probably every year.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Sep, 2003 06:32 am
Ok. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Sep, 2003 06:22 pm
Oh, jeez, Gez! Sorry about that. That link was left over from another thread. I'll be back in a minute with that link.
0 Replies
 
Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Sep, 2003 06:39 pm
Sorry, I lost my connection. I promise this is a link to dormant oil Wink

http://www.care2.com/channels/solutions/guides/43

The picture that is my avatar is of Mr. Raymond Douglas Davies of the Kinks. I don't know the origin of it except that it is featured on the cover of a tribute album called "This is Where I Belong." I highly recommend it.
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Swimpy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Sep, 2003 06:44 pm
As for pruning apple and pear trees, make sure that the interior of the canopy has plenty of air an light penetration. Trim any suckers that grow straight up. They will never bear fruit only leaves.

You can also buy red balls that you paint with a sticky substance and hang from the tree. The apple maggot fly or moth is attracted to it and gets stuck. Apple maggots are the worms.

Here's more info on apple maggots and traps (I think Wink ) http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/plants/BG515.html
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Tue 30 Sep, 2003 07:55 pm
We've had good luck & bad luck with fruit trees. We don't spray at all at home. My sister & her husband have commercial fruit orchards of both apple & pear trees. They spray like crazy and he complains that the best, most effective sprays have been taken off the market. (In this state anybody spraying an orchard has to have a license and training in order to do it safely.)

An orchardist is as likely to rip out and replace a tree as we might do with a petunia, so the first thing you might want to decide is... do you really want to keep those trees. Do they have good fruit? If so, then you have to make a plan. Do you want to lower the canopy of the tree - spread it out for easier picking? Get more fruit? Get larger fruit?

It is very important if a tree hasn't been pruned in a while that you go slowly... you can shock it into never producing again (been there, done that). We live in what was originally an orchard, planted a hundred years ago. We still have one tree left from that orchard... it is ratty-looking but we keep it for sentimental reasons and I give its wormy fruit to my horse. We've also planted a couple of small apple trees, one bears well but has mushy fruit which was supposed to be good for cooking (yeech), the other, an Akane, bears okay and has super fruit. It is never sprayed -- it was bought to be naturally resistant. One weird thing I've been told is that an apple tree doesn't do well in acidic soil. If it is left for years to its own devices, with every year's fruit falling & rotting, it gets into a very acidic soil condition which needs to be fixed.

A pear tree normally won't bear fully every year. You should also know that you never allow pear fruit to ripen on the tree -- it is taken green and allowed to ripen slowly in cool conditions off the vine. Pear trees tend to have lots of water shoots, those are the ones that go straight up. You cut them but they return, year after year, and look hideous. I took a pruning class a year ago and was told that the new thinking is to cut them shorter, but not try to eradicate them and they're not as likely to come back.

Anyway, the first year of pruning an old tree, the best you can usually do is to take away the dead branches, opening up the center. Cut any branches close to the base, but at a slight upward angle so that you don't lose the little lobe of growth tissue at the lower side of the base closest to the ground. You don't need to cover the cut end with paint, oil or anything else. That is now considered bad practice and likely to pass pathogens around. The tree will quickly seal itself without your help. Use a good, sharp scissor-type clipper, not one that only has one cutting edge, and a sharp branch saw. They say to keep the tools clean. You can spray or wipe them off after each cut with bleach, but antiseptic mouthwash works as well and won't wreck your clothes if it spills. You definitely don't want to transfer pathogens from one cut to another. Cut no more than 1/3 of what is needed to be pruned that first year. You should clean up around the base of the tree to the root line and test the soil, probably you'll need to add lime. You should also add soil building stuff like compost, manure and peat moss, and any aerating of the soil is also good as long as you don't damage the roots. While you're waiting around during that year, attend a pruning class -- they're offered from lots of different sources and the best are closely associated with a university or research station. You just have to have hands-on practice.

Fruit trees can do pretty well on their own, once established. Their biggest need is to be pollinated. Do you know what varieties you have? There are hundreds of apple varieties and most of the older ones are not self-pollinating. Sometimes, even if one tree doesn't bear well, it is the pollinator for the others, so you need to keep it.

Hey, good luck. There's a great organization called Plant Amnesty which gives advice on pruning landscape plants. They have a special set of classes on pruning fruit trees... I checked and you have to become a member in order to get their info.
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2003 07:54 am
Great info everyone. Thanks :-)

Piffka
Sounds like a lot of work. We have 4 apple trees and one of them are those fancy apples, #2. is Mcintosh, and I don't know what the other 2 are. Thanks for all the information.
0 Replies
 
Piffka
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2003 10:07 am
OH dear, I did go on and on. Blame it on jetlag. Apples is easy, Montana! :wink: So are pears. Very Happy

If you want to prune them, and haven't done so in a long while, then you shouldn't prune 'em all at once. Three years is what all the experts will recommend. Dormant oil should take care of most of the worms and you don't have to do that until spring. The best for the soil is to try and clear off the old fruit because it makes the soil too acid.

Worms in apples aren't always a bad thing. When I was growing up we used to make cider on an antique cider press... old wormy apples made the brew just a little bit better. Cool You see, the worms only go for the best fruit.


Try not to use anything besides dormant oil... you know this song, doncha?

A hit by Joni Mitchell peaking at # 24 on 1-25-75 (It was a live version)

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
and a swinging hot spot
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Please!
Dont it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took away my old man
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
0 Replies
 
Montana
 
  1  
Reply Wed 1 Oct, 2003 04:35 pm
Thanks Piffka. I appreciate all your help ;-)
0 Replies
 
 

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