Rejuvenating Fruit Trees?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Peacock, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    We moved here in March, so we've now watched our trees go through a whole growing season. They looked great in spring, tons of blooms, but several were disappointing at the end harvest. Like most of the other stuff around here, I don't think they were cared for properly, and I'd like to know how I can improve things for next year, or at least the year after that! What's needed -- feeding, pruning, spraying, removing fruit next spring to give it a year of rest, chopping down and starting over... :rolleyes: ???

    Peaches -- lots of fruit, but they were tiny. Tree looks healthy.
    Pear -- tree looks reasonably healthy, but I only harvested one mixing bowl full of fruit.
    Apple -- I don't know what kind it is, fruits didn't look quite right, and I think there were maybe five total on the whole tree. The tree is small and pathetic looking.
    Plum -- it has black stuff on it, some kind of disease - produced a total of two plums. Tree looks sick, but not too far gone.

    I think there's at least one more apple tree, but I couldn't tell what kind because it never set any fruit.

    Any advice would be awesome! Thanks.
     
  2. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My first hand experience is with peaches. What a disaster!!! It sounds as though the peaches stopped producing the new growth and just maintained what it had. You have to prune peaches quite a bit each or every other year. Also, some good manure or fertilizer (if you're not organic) never hurts.

    You're on your own with the apples and pears. We can't grow that here....it would turn to apple pie in the summer while still on the tree!!!
     

  3. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    Well, not a total disaster. They grew to about 2" diameter and ripened. I harvested about half a bushel full, and they tasted good, but since they were so small I got really tired of peeling and pitting them. After the first pint of peach mush (they were so hard to process, they ended up in mushy bits) I just put them in bags and froze them as is. Maybe when I have time to use them and thaw them, the skin will come off easier.

    But next year I really would prefer normal size peaches...
     
  4. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You probably should have thinned the peaches when they were tiny, so that the remaining fruit got bigger.

    If you have a bunch of fruit trees, get some good reference books. Stella Otto's "Backyard Orchard" book is a good basic place to start.
     
  5. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    The peaches probably just need thinning. Just like WisJim said. The plums probably need to be sprayed with an antifungal spray from the sounds of it. If you dont want to spray, then open up the tree with some pruning. If you dont want to lose possible production for next year, prune on a three year schedule. Some fertilization would be a good idea now and in the spring(manure,compost)
    RW, are you sure you cant grow pears. I am west of you on the Texas Gulf Coast(somewhat) and we have raised pears for years.
     
  6. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Edayna, I didn't type very clearly. I meant MY crop of peaches was a disaster. Sorry for the confusion. I had a hard time knowing what to prune, what branches to keep, when to prune, etc. It was a disaster on my trees.

    Good luck.
     
  7. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have seen pears here before but nobody eats them right off the tree. Mostly for canning, I guess. What type do you grow?

    Now I'm starting to wonder about the squirrels, coons and deer.
     
  8. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    We eat ours off the trees. They are a hard pear but I dont know the variety. There are a few soft pears around but personally I am not such a fan. The wildlife definitely enjoys the pears, peaches all of it.
     
  9. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hmmmmmmm, got me wondering. Guess I need to make a trip by the nursery or co-op to see what is available. I sure like the taste of venison. And to get pears would be nice too! (LOL)
     
  10. wilderness1989

    wilderness1989 Well-Known Member

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    See if you can find the book Pruning Simplified by Lewis Hill. It is a great reference book for pruning trees, shrubs, bushes, hedges, vines, garden plants, house plants, and bonsai. Even has a chapter on reviving an old orchard. I got mine on Amazon for 99 cents on Amazon plus shipping of course. Or maybe your library has a copy or can get one for you. Another good source is your county extension office.
     
  11. haypoint

    haypoint Unpaid, Volunteer Devil's Advocate Supporter

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    Your apple trees might just be from seed and won't ever be able to produce a good apple. Apple trees and most other fruit trees don't produce true from seed. To get good apples, you might need to graft some good varieties onto your trees. Really not that hard. Cut new growth in Feb. cut off branches of your existing trees, cit a split in the branch, cut your new variety shaped like a chisel and insert into the split, making sure the bark areas contact eachother. A piece of rubberband wrapped around the joint helps keep the joint tight. Coat with some grafting wax. I'd do just 1/3 of the tree the first year, in case you screw it up, you won't kill the tree.
     
  12. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    Also, I think your apples may not be getting pollinated sufficiently. Could be a problem with all of your trees.I know apples do better if they have another tree to cross polinate with. They all should be pruned regularly.
     
  13. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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  14. RedTartan

    RedTartan Icelandic Sheep Supporter

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    I have some old, old, OLD apple trees on my newly acquired land. My research says that too many branches on a tree will be bad for production. An apple tree should only have four or five really large branches with numerous small offshoots. You can trim off 2 large branches per year without killing the tree. This is second-hand experience, though, as I've not trimmed my trees yet.

    :) RedTartan
     
  15. swollen tongue

    swollen tongue Well-Known Member

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    a good pruning to stimulate next years growth and fruit buds, an oil dormant spray this winter and some good fertilizer. peaches do need thinned, about one per six inches on the tree when thinned. good luck!
     
  16. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I thin my peaches to 8 inches apart, plums to 4 inches. Pears should be thinned to leave only one fruit per cluster.
    These were the numbers I got from the coop ext specialist in my area this spring. I followed his instructions and got the best crop of all three types of fruit trees with good size also. Plus, the plums which suffer from brown rot (of the fruit) produced a lot more edible fruit as they weren't touching each other and the rot didn't spread like lightening.
    Thinning takes a lot of time, especially with the plums (Shiro and Red Heart) which are my largest and most productive trees. I'd go out for a half hour at a time, and just work on 3-4 branches each time. Some branches I never got to, but next year I will put even more time into it as the rewards were great. The peaches were nice size and very good (Red Havens and Reliance). Bosc pear are a really good size now. I picked the last a few days ago, and they enlarged significantly over the ones I had picked three weeks earlier.
    Apples and cherries don't seem to be doing much...I grow organically, and may use some dormant oil next spring on them, but the apples didn't even bloom this year, although the cherries did, but I only got a very few cherries from them.