Announcement

Collapse

ANNOUNCEMENT - THE GROW SHOW

Have you visited The Grow Show yet? It?s full of new gardening guides, downloads and offers from top brands ? click here to step through its virtual gates...
See more
See less

"Renovating" old apple trees

Collapse

X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • "Renovating" old apple trees

    Hi all - can I ask for advice on renovating old apple trees.

    We added to our garden with part of an old orchard but all that was left were 2 apple trees (and 6ft high nettles, docks etc). These 2 trees are well over 30ft tall and most of the branches are beyond reach even with a ladder. They both fruited really well this year (1 definitely a cooker, the other I'm not sure but they were 'sharp') but I could only gather them from the ground so lots of bruised & battered. All the top branches are really crowded/overlapping/rubbing etc.

    I've read as many books about pruning as I can find but all they mention is to open them out to let air circulate etc but without a fireman's help I don't think we would even able to reach!

    Would it be too much of a shock to the tree to really 'prune' the top out ie take off whole branches rather than try to thin them out? Both trees do have new shoots lower down (3ft ish long) but obviously these will take a while to grow and the tops really do need sorting out.

    Any advice anyone can offer would be greatly received.

  • #2
    Honestly? If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting in a tree surgeon for the initial "major haircut"... I too have read numerous books on pruning, but there's so much needs to come off our older apple tree that I just daren't do it, and the T.S. will be here within the next few weeks. He's quoted me £60 for one big tree & one smaller one.

    Comment


    • #3
      Are you in a major apple growing area-there may be a few experts at the local fruit nurseries who can help you?( can you put a rough location on your profile??)

      Good to hear you're not going to chop them down as so many peeps seem to want to do these days!

      As far as I recall- most trees which need drastic pruning should be done over a couple of years so as not to shock the tree so much. I imagine this would apply to an apple tree too. There are a couple of apple experts on here- lets hope they can advise.

      Oh- and by the way....welcome to the Vine!!!
      "Nicos, Queen of Gooooogle" and... GYO's own Miss Marple

      Comment


      • #4
        If they were my trees, I would do one of the following (in order of preference):

        1.
        Leave them alone and admire them for the fine, mature specimens they are.

        2.
        Get a professional to tidy them up.

        3.
        Cut them down.

        Anything over about 12ft generally means that there is no way the average person will be able to take proper care of them.

        I would leave the big trees as they are, and, if you want apples, plant some "bush" apples on a semi-dwarfing rootstock (such as M26 or MM106). Admire the big trees and take proper care of the "bush" trees that you should be able to maintain at a manageable height; between 6-12ft.
        .

        Comment


        • #5
          [
          3.
          Cut them down.

          Hopefully this isn't what you'll resort to - but if does become a consideration you might need planning permission. I think you need this if you want to cut down trees that are more than 25 yrs old - but thinking about it, that might only be if you are in a protected area!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by SarzWix View Post
            Honestly? If you can afford it, I'd recommend getting in a tree surgeon for the initial "major haircut"... I too have read numerous books on pruning, but there's so much needs to come off our older apple tree that I just daren't do it, and the T.S. will be here within the next few weeks. He's quoted me £60 for one big tree & one smaller one.
            that's a good quote, i got a quote from a local firm for my mum, it started at £150
            Vive Le Revolution!!!
            'Lets just stick it in, and see what happens?'
            Cigarette FREE since 07-01-09

            Comment


            • #7
              I'd get a quote from a tree surgeon. Last February had some very old trees done - it looked drastic at the time, but they have already responded well.
              Growing in the Garden of England

              Comment


              • #8
                Many thanks for the replies so far.

                Chopping them down is not an option - we watched while the rest of the orchard was destroyed before we owned it and that was heart breaking.

                My initial thoughts were of contacting a tree surgeon but was afraid the quote would be into 3 figures (and not necessarily beginning with a 1). I might see if I can get a free appraisal from one of them first, to see what can be done.

                Living in Bramley country I should be able to find someone 'in the know' - I'll see if I can find anyone.

                However if any of the above mentioned 'apple experts' have any knowledge to impart - please do so.

                Thanks all!

                Comment


                • #9
                  OK, if they were mine, I would make a three-year plan and carry out the pruning each winter, when the trees are dormant.
                  If you remove more than a quarter of the tree each winter, it will fight back so hard that fruit production will be reduced, while it concentrates on trying to recover from the shock.

                  Try to achieve each batch of pruning with the minimum number of cuts - spend a while looking at the tree beforehand to see how you can achieve the objective with just a few cuts. It is less shock to the tree and is less likely to cause it to re-grow in an unattractive way. It also means less "wounds" that diseases could enter.
                  Do not use a hedge trimmer or similar cutter. It will just give the tree a haircut and will remove most of the productive parts (only the outer 1-2ft is productive, the rest is mostly structural wood).
                  Use a saw and some proper pruning tools.

                  If you have to remove sizeable side branches, leave a very short stump of about 1/4 inch (perhaps a little more for big branches), to allow the tree to heal more easily. If you cut a branch off completely level with where it originated, it damages the originating branch and is harder for the tree to heal, so may get diseased.

                  First winter:
                  1. Remove cankered wood, or wood that does not look healthy.
                  2. Remove dead wood.
                  3. Remove rubbing branches.

                  Second winter:
                  1. Remove any more diseased, dead or rubbing branches - as above.
                  2. Remove upwards-growing shoots (a common response to pruning).
                  3. Start to thin out excess branches - take about half of the excess and leave the rest for next year. Make as few cuts as reasonably possible.

                  Third winter.
                  As for second winter and complete the thinning of excess branches.

                  After that, you should be able to get away with pruning only every few years, although annual tidying-up is always a good idea.


                  It's a lot of work and the job may be too much for most people to do.

                  FB
                  .

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Theres a few good videos on youtube showing how and how not to prune old and new apple trees, they explain exactly why they do what they are doing.
                    things like
                    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_jqgWXlUHM
                    Last edited by starloc; 10-01-2009, 06:08 PM.
                    Living off grid and growing my own food in Bulgaria.....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Pruning

                      Thanks Starloc. I've been putting off pruning my apple trees because I didn't really know where to start. The videos are really clear so as soon as the temperature gets above 5 degrees, I'll be out there!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi Apple Betty
                        I've been pruning apple trees since i was 8

                        My mum and dad used to do it together (mum's professional) and has many rare fruit trees as well as a small orchard of 8 apple trees which were planted 5 years after the house was built... in 1940...
                        So our trees are OLD and just as big as yours. This is how we do it, it is gentle enough for oldies but cuts enough away to ensure health and future growth (and fruit)

                        Each branch will shoot out thin weedy shoots which can grow anywhere from 6" to 3ft in a year (longest one we got was taller than me, and i'm 5'2"!!).

                        In July/August- Invest in a Long Handled Pole Pruner (£30-£40) and nip each shoot at about 2" (or where ever the first set of leaves comes). Each shoot should be cut with a pair of leaves remaining

                        Do this all over. If you can't reach, get someone to climb!! I always think tree surgeons should be called via word of mouth (no offense) but i've seen some horrors over the years! AVOID cutting any of the bigger branches unless obviously dead

                        Hope this helps!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Surely pruning the tips will reduce fruit growth, many apples are tip bearers? , i know that pruning the tips on citrus is a mistake most people make , on citrus it vastly reduces the crop size.
                          Living off grid and growing my own food in Bulgaria.....

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by starloc View Post
                            Surely pruning the tips will reduce fruit growth, many apples are tip bearers? , i know that pruning the tips on citrus is a mistake most people make , on citrus it vastly reduces the crop size.
                            Winter pruning of the tips will cut off the coming seasons flowers on the tip-bearing varieties, although many tip-bearers will have some spurs that wouldn't be cut off, so fruit set may still be enough if it's an older tree.

                            Summer pruning of tips will not be a problem. The summer pruning causes some of the buds further back along the branch to form into fruit buds, while stopping all further growth for that season, as energy is channelled into fruit buds.
                            Last August, I routinely cut back my Discovery, Worcester and Tydeman's (all part-tip-bearers) and the cutting back to 1-4 new buds has resulted in substantial extra fruit bud production.
                            .

                            Comment

                            Latest Topics

                            Collapse

                            Recent Blog Posts

                            Collapse
                            Working...
                            X