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  • From: Ginda Fisher <>
  • To: NAFEX Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: [NAFEX] bagging apples
  • Date: Sat, 31 May 2008 15:18:38 -0400

My Jonathan tree planted in 2000 and the grafts on my crab (done in 2001) finally set fruit this year. I have no idea why it took so long, but my guess is some combination of lack of direct sunlight and winter moths, which eat the buds. I had very poor fruit set as a % of bloom, probably some combination of the effect of winter moths, which damage the fruiting parts well before the buds open, and the sprays for winter moths, which probably took out some of my pollinators.*

So today I went out and thinned/bagged the fruitlets. Last year I got a few blooms, and bagged 8 apples after they reached "marble size". That was clearly too late, as most had already been attacked by something, probably curlicue. This year I started bagging as soon as I could, promptly ran out of baggies, and bought more last night.

I removed all the obviously damaged/weak fruitlets, and in the rare cases where a flower cluster had set more than 2-3 healthy-looking fruits, I thinned to 2 or 3. Having waited so long for fruit, I am certain that I'd prefer more apples to larger apples, and I have no great faith that the trees will set fruit next year no matter what I do this year. :-) So I thinned less, not more. I bagged about 100 fruits, mostly Jonathan and Ashmeads Kernal, with a few Ribston and Tydeman's Late Orange.

Wish me luck.

Eastern MA, zone 6

* This was the subject of a previous rant. I finally contacted the tree company, which I'd hired to spray my oaks. They assured me that they hadn't sprayed anything that was actually in bloom, and that they'd come on a day with no wind, so there should be very little drift. The Spinosad they use has low residual toxicity to pollenators, so they shouldn't have done much damage to the population. In fact, the following weekend I had a huge amount of bee activity on the blueberries, so perhaps they told the truth.

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