[NAFEX] Apple Bagging

John Barbowski jbarbowski at gmail.com
Fri Mar 4 15:36:34 EST 2005


Hello All,

I followed with interest the thread regarding apple bagging that
appeared about a year ago.

I have two 24 yr old apple trees, a Mac and a Red Delicious (RD), and
a Golden Del (GD) that is about 16 yrs. I put the RD in about a year
after I moved to my new house and the GD about 8 yrs later when my son
voiced an interest in them. They were supposed to be semi-dwarf,
whatever that meant at the time. Crops were haphazard, following a
boom-bust cycle, but more bust in the last ten years. Each winter I
pruned about ¼ of the trees only to see massive growth the following
summer with minimal apple production. I sprayed whenever I could, but
under no strict regime. The apples that were produced invariably had
scab, apple maggots, plum curculio and probably a few other maladies.
It was intensive labour with sparse return.

3+ yrs ago, I decided to go with M9 dwarfs, and over time, replace the
older trees. M9 rootstock was something that had twigged my fancy when
trying to get info over the net. That's when Tom Olenio heard of my
search for M9 rootstock and informed me about 'The List'. I joined and
have been enlightened ever since. I never did get my rootstock, but
picked up a number of trees from Woodwinds in Ontario, whips mostly on
M26 and a few on Ottawa 3. The new apples included the likes of
Strawberry and Scarlet Pippen, Liberty, Honeycrisp, Fulford Gala,
Empire, Shamrock, Ida Red, Fiesta, Burgundy, Priscilla, Northern Spy,
Gravenstein  and Blenheim. For the last three summers, I have been
pruning in the summer and gradually getting the larger trees under
control.

But back to bagging. I didn't have the time to be formal about records
and bagging, so I proceeded on my own. When my apples were about
quarter size, I started the bagging process. I had accumulated a few
4x6 paper bags that I used, and decided that plastic zip locks (ZL's)
were the cheapest and easiest for me. The paper bags, stapled closed,
proved to be a little awkward. Rain and wind got rid of 3 of the 5
that I used. I bought 100 ZL's for $1.79 Cdn and commenced. I was
amazed to run out. I bought more bags and used another 90+. Not having
many apples, I even bagged the doubles. I just zipped the bags – NO
STAPLES. The trees looked like Halloween in late June. I knew I had
bagged a little early, but in one week, I would be gone on vacation
for a month and didn't know how my time frame would work out. Within a
week, I lost twenty bags through apple drop. I did re-use the bags and
un-doubled some of the clusters.

I returned a month later. While away, about 25 more bags dropped off.
Some through additional apple drop, some through poor installation,
and some through water accumulation. I quickly took my scissors and
nipped the corners to permit drainage for some problem bags. Over the
month of August, the apples continued to grow. The odd bag would come
off from the wind, but it was soon replaced.

On Sep 1, I remove the 25 bags from the Mac. This was to allow a two
week period for the fruit to mature and fully colour. Of the 30+
apples, I'd say only one or two were unedible. The rest matured and
proved to be the best quality apples ever borne by the tree. There was
the odd bump and scab, but in view of previous crops, the quality was
excellent. This from a tree that would produce 1 good apple out of 50
– with spraying!

On Sept 30, I removed the bags from the RD. This tree, when it was
young, had good quality apples. But lately, like the Mac, 1 in 50 was
a good ratio. Of the 60 or so apples, there was perhaps one that was
not edible. One in five had a small bump, and scab was almost non
existent. No maggots, no curculio, no preponderance of purplish
deformities that were so prevalent in other years.

The GD was next. It had the most apples, and bags. I could tell that
the apples would be of similar quality to RD and Mac. I removed the
bags around Oct 5th. A week later, I noticed about half of the apples
were missing. I thought my son had indulged himself. Too many missing
for squirrel behaviour. I never did confront him about it. A week
later, all but one of the remaining apples were gone! This time, I did
question my son; he knew nothing about the apples, but did say he was
looking forward to the feast! The last one that was left, quite high
up, was excellent, both in form and taste. Time for a good guard
dog!!!!!

My bagging experience was very positive. I don't like to use
chemicals, (this time, only dormant and 1 spray at ¾ petal fall),
hence bagging was ideal. Besides, the pastime of spraying is not high
on my list of favourite activities. It took about 2.5 hours to put
about 200 bags on the trees. Furthermore, the bagging and summer
pruning has probably saved the lives of my older trees. I will repeat
bagging this year.

It was interesting to see the colour difference between the paper bags
and the plastic bags. Plastic allowed the apple to achieve about 50%
of its potential colour. Paper bags allowed almost no coloration. The
paper bag apples did colour within two weeks after the paper removal.
Other than colour and ease of application, there was no real diff
between paper and plastic. In case some might be interested, I have
posted a few pics on the following site:

http://www.spymac.com/gallery/show_memberpics.php?memberid=233376

One can see the apples, some bags, water accumulation in one bag, part
of the tree and the colour diff achieved between plastic and paper.
Click on an apple to enlarge it.

Sorry for the length of this. My ambition of only one page was not
achieved, mind you, I could have used a smaller font.

jb



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