Apple Tree Fertilizer

by James
(Washington State)

I have some older apple trees that have not been maintained for years. What little fruit there is, it's small and unhealthy looking fruit.

How do I increase fruit production, increase quality of fruit, and improve overall health of tree?

Plant Guides Response:

Your apple tree most likely needs some remedial pruning. This is a multi-year process.

Year 1: Remove all broken or crossing limbs and any that are too close to the ground.

Year 2: Prune out any water sprouts or suckers that are growing straight up into the canopy of the tree.

Year 3: Make heading cuts to get the tree down to a manageable height and thinning cuts to open up the canopy so that light and air can reach every future apple.

You may be able to combine years 1 and 2 depending on how much broken or crossing wood the apple tree has. What you want to avoid doing is pruning away more than 30% of the tree in any single year.

It is less stressful to the tree if you remove the old wood in stages.

Another thing you should do to revitalize your tree is spray it with a dormant oil spray each spring when you can see the color of the flower buds but before they open.

This will help protect the tree from codling moths. Planting a ground cover of sweet alyssum beneath the tree will attract the codling moth's natural enemies as well.

Fertilize your apple tree with a 10-10-10 granular plant food. Spread this around the drip line of the tree's current canopy in November.

Take your time. It may take a few years to restore your tree to its former beautiful, fruitful state.

Good Luck, James.

Fruit Tree Pruning Instructions

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