crab-apple question

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by WanderingOak, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I have two crab apple trees on my property. One tree is well established in the back yard, while the other is in front of the house and I think is only 10 years old. The younger tree is a very good fruiter. This year, about 10 of the fruit from this tree are almost as large as a granny smith, while the rest are about cherry sized and bright red. Meanwhile, the tree in the back yard produces hundreds of small fruit, but they are about 2/3 the size of a cherry and more pinkish than red. I do not know how old this tree is.

    If I could get larger apples off of the other tree, I would have more than enough for cidering, etc. As it is, I have enough fruit for a few jars of jelly, but not much more. I believe the tree in front of the house was planted as an ornamental, and has been fertilized, etc. I do not think it has been grafted. This tree is about 10 feet from the road, so I am concerned about polution, etc. It is too large to transplant myself, otherwise I would move it around back. So, I have two questions. First of all, do I have two different varieties of crab apple? Second, if both are the same variety, how do I improve the yield of the larger tree?
     
  2. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    After doing a bit of research, I think I do have two different varieties. I am going to try to do some air layering on the tree in the front yard, to create new saplings, which I will plant around back. The older tree with the lesser yield is probably going to wind up as furnature once the new saplings are established. The tree up front may wind up all being sacrificed in the process, because it is in a bad location for a fruit tree. Besides, it is only 10 feet from the house, so if it does get as large as the other, it will have to be pruned on a regular basis.
     

  3. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    Two different varieties of apple are needed, but they bon't necessarily both have to be crab apple. Most any apple will do.

    Granny Smith, BTW, is a cross between an Australian apple and the French crab apple.
     
  4. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    I'd say you most definitely have two different varieties. Crab apples serve a greater purpose that just a lovely ornamental in the yard, regardless of the quality of the fruit. They are the best pollinators for "regular" apples that there is. Having staggered bloom dates on your crab apple trees is perfect planning. You probably have a happy blessing created ignorantly and accidentally by the original planter. So go plant more apple trees!

    The fact that the tree is near the road says it was most likely planted just for spring looks. So how much road pollution are we talking about? An occasional car or bumper-to-bumper expressway traffic M-F? If it's the former, wash them in vinegar-water and enjoy.

    As for making your crop larger, crab apples only get so big. You can try pruning and even thinning the tree. However, crab apples have been preserved mostly for pollination and ornamental purposes - except for a couple of varieties, the fruit is pretty much wildlife food.

    BW
     
  5. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    Come to think of it, the front tree is producing the largest fruit on the side that is closest to the crab apple in the back yard, so it could be that the larger fruit is a result of cross-polination. I wish I knew what variety of tree I had in the front yard. I am only up at the property a few weeks a year right now, or I would post a picture of the leaves and the fruit. I am only guessing that it is a crab apple due to the size of a majority of the fruit. The leaves of both trees are identical. If an apple tree is not polinated properly, does the fruit resemble those of a crab apple, or does it even fruit at all? This property is in town, so there may not be any other apple trees of any variety about.

    The crab apple tree in the back yard is huge. It has about a twenty foot spread, and my yard is not the largest. That is why I was considering taking it down. I might do some air layering on that tree as well, just so I have a replacent.
     
  6. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    If it is a crab apple it will probably be very tart.
     
  7. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    The large fruit from the tree out front is not tart. That is why I am wondering about it.
     
  8. zealot

    zealot Soli Deo Gloria

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    Most likely an old small-apple cultivar as many exist in Virginia. Rather than a true crab apple.
     
  9. BeckyW

    BeckyW Well-Known Member

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    Not all crab apples are tart. There is a variety that produces well on the coast of southern California that has the look of a yellow blushed Lady Apple and has the taste of a slightly tart Yellow Transparent. It's a lovely tree.

    You may have a small Virginia cultivar though. Perhaps a county ag extension agent would recognize what you have and give you some good suggestions for the local area.

    BW
     
  10. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    The tree in question is in Watertown, NY, rather than Virginia. I am in the middle of a move right now, trying to fix up my house in VA to sell, while fixing up the one in NY to be fit for habitation. I'll update my profile after I move.