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Discussion Starter #1
Im not too up on fruit trees so I could use a hand. We have a number of mature apple trees on my family farm that used to produce fruit. Years ago an unnamed family member got froggy with the chainsaw and topped them. I mean totally just hammered them back to big stubs. The trees never produced apple since. Now, those old topping cuts have suckered out like crazy and still no apples.

I am going to do round one of crown restorations on these trees this week. I can correct these trees over the next 2 years. Will this encourage fruit production.
 

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I don't know for sure but after a apple tree gets so old they stop produceing fruit and you have take them out and plant new ones
 

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If they flowered in the spring then they should still produce fruit. Late frost last year wiped out all the apples on our place in Lycoming co last year. We have some trees that are from the early 1920's that still produce.
 

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Maybe call your county AG agent. He may have some good advise. I think it is too late this year to trim. The sap is already flowing.
 

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Maybe its nothing but suckers, and suckers don't produce?

Must have been hammered awful hard to keep it from producing for many years.

You can set a tree back if pruned to hard but thats just for a year or 2.
 

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Here's the likely problem. If these were old orchard trees, they were almost assuredly stock (usually of a named variety) that has been grafted on to a seperate rootstock. There may even have been a interstem (a seperate grafted section to assure comptibility or delayed incompatibility). So depending how far down your family bozo cut them back they may be rootstocks that produce very little in the way of fruit.
If your main purpose is to have wildlife apples, I would first try to fertilize what you have. As soon as the frost is out of the ground, broadcast a pound coffee can's worth of a balanced fertilizer (like 10-10-10) in a band near where the dripline of the precut tree was (not exact science, just approximate). Always fertilize early, never late in the season. Then if the trees flower, get a spray of "complete" apple tree spray. Most need multiple applications. Make sure the spray includes ingredients to control fire blight and scab. Try that for a year or two. If it works, good. Then go to pruning for structural stability and thinning out the water sprouts. Also, apples need close to full sunlight for continued good health and good bearing.So if there are any significant amount of competing trees, they should be eliminated.But ......
If it does not work, you can graft named varieties onto the sprout material. Thats called topworking the tree. Make sure you get varieties that are consistent fruiters, have good inherent frost, scab and fireblight disease resistance, and pay attention to wheter they are early or late droppers. I've gotten grafting stock from orchards when they are pruning there trees. You can learn from books, but having someone instruct you is a lot easier. I would recommend that you use a cleft graft. Easiest and fairly strong.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Pa-Guy said:
Maybe call your county AG agent. He may have some good advise. I think it is too late this year to trim. The sap is already flowing.
You can prune a tree during the growing season. Pruning while in flower can be harmful
 

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They are still pruning apple tree on a farm I hunt right now,and he make his living from apples.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There's no harm in it. Ive pruned thousands of trees during the hottest months of the year without one issue. Its harmless. Im gonna prune these trees out I guess. Ill take it easy this time around and have at them again next winter. No need to put excessive stress on old trees.
 

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That shouldn't effect them at all. We have a couple apple trees on our property that are a minimum 85 years old and they still produce. One in particular was on fire, had storm damage, pruned, and still produces fruit like crazy..
 

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I have two old apple trees on my property that need some work. My understanding of pruning is to cut off the suckers. What else should I do to help these old trees produce more apples? I will try the fertilizer idea.
 

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Cut off any branches that are rubbing together or any branches that are crossing one another. The best time to do this would be when the trees are not dormant. Dormant pruning promotes growth and any major pruning will give you the watersprouts (the growth that shoots straight up from branches). Spring and summer pruning also promotes the growth of fruiting wood. If they were my trees I would start on them this spring, get the dead wood cut off, cut off and rubbing branches and try to open it up a little to get some air flowing through, it will help with disease control. It may be something you want to do over a few years.
 

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I did some heavy pruning on a couple of apple trees back in January. Maybe to heavy, but I'll be fertilizing them this spring to help them along.
 

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Dutch, I am going to guess that you will have some major water sprouts to deal with. There isnt much of a need for fertilizer IMO. The tree has all of the energy stored for the wood that was removed during pruning and should not need anymore. I would hold off on the fertilizer this year and prune the water sprouts off once or twice this summer.
 

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We pruned a bunch back in the winter of '03 and they did develop many water sprouts.

Doing it in the summer is better then?

We had no apple crop this year due to frost, so, I'm thinking those apple trees we did this winter probably have quite a bit of stored energy for the coming growing season.
 

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Yeah i do not have much actual experience but have spent the better part of the last 3 years reading and learning about my new fruit tree addiction. Winter pruning promotes vigorous growth, which tends to lead to water sprouts. Summer pruning cuts back on the growth and tends to promote the growth of wood that bears fruit. I tried this on my only mature tree last year and it looks great heading into this spring. All of my young stuff I winter prune because i want vigorous growth and its easier to control water sprouts. There is a great forum that can answer a lot of these types of questions. Are we allowed posting links to other sites?
 

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Links are fine as long as they are educational and not commercial in nature.
 

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Fruit and Orchard Forum Some of the people on there have a lot of experience and knowledge. There are a lot of forums there to research different topics, I like reading the wine forum too. At the top of the page there is a tab called other forums.
 
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