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Old apple tree questions

Old 06-29-2005, 05:32 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default Old apple tree questions

A friend has a 100 acre farm in an area with good deer and turkey populations in central Ontario. There are several old apple trees around the farm on the edge of fields and bush that are in bad shape, they don't produce fruit and are very bushy and tight, but they are pretty in the srping when covered in blossoms.
I've been told to prune the heck out of them to get them to produce apples again but I'm not sure about how. A quick search on google found lots of info on training fruit trees but nothing on pruning a tree that hasn't been touched in 20 years.
Can I prune this time of year?
Would I be wasting my time?
For all I know these trees may be crab-apple trees, would these benefit the deer and turkeys?

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:28 PM
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

The only bad thing about all fruit trees is that after a storm branches and such fall off, and this can be fatal to the deer(not sure why, I read it once, might have to look it up again to explain it some), just because of that I would reccomend leaving the trees alone, and not put in the extra effort.
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Old 06-29-2005, 08:35 PM
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Prune fruit trees in the winter when they are dormant
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Old 06-30-2005, 08:50 AM
Fork Horn
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Rocks, the only way a falling apple branch will hurt a deer is if it falls on him, not if he eats it.Cherry leaves, especially if dry can poison cattle, but not deer.

If the apple trees blossom, but do not produce fruit, it usually because there is no pollenizer tree nearby. Apples are not self fruitful like peaches or cherries, and need another variety for pollenization.
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Old 06-30-2005, 02:56 PM
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Pruning the trees will really help them to produce, if done properly. With old trees you should prune any dead, diseased, or broken branches. Also, any branches that are touching or rubbing against each other should be pruned. Try to cut away any brush or undesirable trees near them to reduce competition for sunlight and nutrients. To answer your other question deer and turkeys will eat crabapples.
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Old 06-30-2005, 03:32 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Prune out the dead branches first. Then remove anything that has diseased sections of wood. The best time for pruning is when the tree is dormant as it will have the greatest effect on the new growth but you can generally prune at any time. An exception is nut trees which "bleed" if pruned at the wrong time. After that you need to work on a long term plan to remove at the most 10% of the living tree each year and ending up with a wagon wheel when looking down from the top. As said before you want to remove rubbing branches and those that shade out others. Get out the chain saw.

Dan O.
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Old 07-01-2005, 09:24 AM
Nontypical Buck
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Apple trees in centeral Ontario need to be Pruned the end of March /first of April. As advised above and aswell as any suckers that are growing wild(into other parts of the branches) Suckers are new growth that grow straight up off the branch. You can leave the ones that look as if they are going to grow out to an opening and fill the tree top. Most of the center of the tree needs to come out. This will allow more light to the inside of the tree. When finished the tree will look badly open , but will regrow proper.

Large fertiliser spikes can be drove in around the tree keeping them around 8-10 feet from trunk. This will also help the tree to produce.

Hope that helps...BT
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Old 07-01-2005, 12:55 PM
Fork Horn
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

Tou have gotten some good pruning advice above. Nowadays, apple trees are usually pruned using the center spindle method. Visualize the shape of a christmas tree and prune your tree so that it approximates that shape.Longer main scaffold branches on the bottom, progressively shorter towards the top. This allows light to get to the center of the tree. Frankly, this doesn't do too much for the size of the fruit (this is controlled by other factors), but it colors the apples well, and helps provide a more stable tree. With an old tree, you cannot always work them into the pretty shape of a young tree, but keep this approximate shape in mind as you make your pruning cuts.
If you prune fairly hard, do not over fertilize, or you wil be amazed at how fast the tree takes on the appearance of a hedgehog. Of course, all of this is for naught, if your blossoms are not pollenated.
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Old 07-03-2005, 08:42 PM
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Default RE: Old apple tree questions

I too found myself in the same type situation with a new hunitng lease. Right in the center of the piece was a small old apple orchard. The first yr. we didn't take long to discover what apples that did produce was a major deer magnet. So I decided it was best to get the most out of those tree's as possible. I spoke to a local apple orchard on how to care for them. They advised heavy pruning here in NY during the months of Feb. & March. Much like others have suggested above. They also recommended some fertilizing be done, by spreading bagged fertlizer around the tree's along the drip line of the outter branches. Then I saw a show on the Outdoor ch. Where guys fertlized their apples, by digging several holes in the ground around the drip line, dumping a coffee can sized amount of fertlizer in each hole, then covering up. This acts the same as the push in ground fertilzer sticks. I can say we have seen some decent results with the health of the tree's. There's only been a couple that don't seem to be recovering from yrs of being left to rot.
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Old 07-06-2005, 07:34 AM
Fork Horn
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