Why such small apples?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Rita, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have four semi-dwarf apple trees that are 6 yrs old. They bloom well but don't set a lot of fruit and the fruit they do produce is so small. I fertilize with Jobe's fruit tree spikes and the trees grow real well (need a lot of pruning) but the fruit stays golf ball size? Any ideas/help would be very much appreciated. Rita
     
  2. woodspirit

    woodspirit Well-Known Member

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    Fertilizer spikes are the worst. First of all, the feeder roots are close to the surface of the soil. 1 or 2 inches deep. Fert spikes are deeper than that. Add to that the fact that fert spikes are really only going to fertilize the immediate area around them, and not all the feeder roots. Add to that, fertilizer spikes are going to burn the roots that they are contacting. Most of the fertilizer that you are putting in the soil is leaching down and into the groundwater and not helping the plant at all. The best way to fertilize anything is to broadcast granular fertilizer evenly around the plant to an area just beyond the "drip line". Ideally there should be no grass growing under the fruit trees so that the trees don't get competition for water and nutrients. Mulch would be very beneficial. Fruit trees are not heavy feeders and don't need much else beyond 5-10-5. Cheap and easy. Usually the fruit will be small if the roots aren't able to supply all the water and nutrients. In other words removing more of the top growth by pruning or else "beefing up" the fibrous roots by the addition of more phosphorous and mulching. This will bring the foliage and roots more in line with each other. So Pruning in the winter and fertilizing with a granular like 5-10-5, and mulching them will bring great results next year, as long as they are in full sun to begin with. After you prune in the off season is a good time to spray them with dormant oil too. It kills all the overwintering eggs and insects and insures they have all the advantages that they need to flower in the spring.
     

  3. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    An old man I know has always had big juicy peaches on his trees. His neighbors trees always had little peaches. The old man didn't like his neighbor much and had a wickedly evil grin on his face when he told me how much he enjoyed the conversations when the neighbor would ask him how to get the peaches to grow big and juicy. He used to tell the neighbor that he talked to his trees and the trees rewarded him with good fruit. He confided to me how he really got those big peaches. Every spring he would fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and dissolve 5 lbs of sugar in it, then pour it around the peach tree. As years passed he got very sneaky about watching his neighbor so the neighbor never seen him do it. I tried it last year with my apple tree. I did get bigger, juicier apples last year. They weren’t huge, but if I do the sugar water every year they may get bigger each year. This year I didn’t feed sugar water to the tree and my apples are small again. Evidently the sugar feeds the fruit. I see the old man every now and then. He laughs as he tells me that the neighbor sometimes sets under his peach tree talking to it. Even after all these years, he still has not told his neighbor about the sugar water trick he uses.
     
  4. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I wonder if the sugar thing might have attracted bees, which are necessary to pollinate the fruit. If the trees aren't sufficiently pollinated the fruit, if you get any, will be small. I understand many parts of the country are experiencing a lack of honey bees this year.
     
  5. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Pollination was the first thing that came to my mind. Rita, are all the trees the same variety, or do you have a mix? Apples require a different variety as a pollinator. If they are all the same check with a local nursery or online to find out what variety is recommended to plant with those that you have. And, as gilberte said, bees are very important for apples to pollinate properly.
     
  6. Rita

    Rita Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the ideas. Woodspirit I thought the spikes would be better since we have grass under the trees and thought the grass would use up all the fert. I see by your explanation the need for pruning. Spinner I think I'll try one tree with the sugar water solution. Tyusclan I have 3 different varieties and one tree is a 5 in l so I don't think that is the problem. They didn't bloom until I put horseshoes in the branches (a hint I got on this Forum). Guess I'll put enough fert. on for the grass AND the trees. Rita