[NAFEX] Cut down apple trees?

mddorogi at comcast.net mddorogi at comcast.net
Thu Apr 3 15:12:44 EDT 2008

Thanks for the responses, all, here's what I can add.

Regarding bugs, we have them all, since I'm surrounded by old crabapples, wild apples, hawthorns, cedars, etc.  I think I have the worst case: a few small heirloom trees in the midst of acres of great habitat for all these bugs and fungii.  One year the curculio were so numerous I couldn't believe it; the next year, I almost didn't see any.

Last year I had my best results with three sprays (as I recall) of malathion/captan up until the apples were about nickel sized, then I bagged them with baggies.  Previously I used sulfur and Surround with not as good results, since more spraying is required and I have trouble keeping up with it (kids, job, etc), particularly in the summer.  I intend to keep going with the bagging; I'd like to get away from the malathion/captan though.

I think the biggest bug problem is codling moth.  The curculio are bad but are only there for a while; but I'm assuming that the codling moth have several generations that cause problems later in the year for the later ripening apples.  Oriental fruit moth are around too, since they are all over my peaches, but I don't know if they are bothering the apples.  I don't think that apple maggot are a big problem typically.  One year I sprayed a fair amount of Bt; I didn't seem to get good contol of whatever lepidoptra were there though.

Jim - the trees are kind of lawn trees: they are in a lawn, but in their own raised beds of ~ 4' diameter with cobblestone borders.  I did this since the soil conditions underneath were crummy (clay).  I don't fertilize the lawn much, but I guess once or twice a year I do spread some organic fertilizer (milorganite).  At the beginning of each season, I usually mix in a few shovelfuls of compost and some balanced organic fertilizer under each tree.  I did have the soil tested last year but I don't have the results with me.  It came back "OK" as I remember, nothing stood out.  I had been curious as to whether there were any soil parameters that would affect water core, since not only Tompkins King gets it, but also the Lymans Large Summer to a lesser extent, and I've even seen it in some of the other trees occasionally.

I'll read up on topworking and grafting; I hadn't considered that option.  I have Michael Phillips' book which I think covers it to some extent, but I've glossed over it in the past.


-------------- Original message -------------- 
From: "Alan Haigh" <alandhaigh at gmail.com> 
Another question is, how many seasons are these evaluations based on?  If it's less than 3 I'd be very suspicious- last year was a rare low curculio one over here in NY so I'd not base much on it.  It was also a low humid summer.  Even if you are disappointed in the varieties that certainly is no reason to cut them down.  If it's too late to graft new varieties this year, lop off some large branches and stick some new wood on some selected water sprouts next spring (easier for the beginner than cleft grafts and they grow like a bat out of hell).   If they are on dwarf rootstock than you might just replant if you don't mind the expense. 
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