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Apple tree Pruning
Apple tree should get pruned periodically so as to delete the branches that are weak, deeply shaded, and diseased. The best time for pruning apple trees is at the beginning of spring season (mostly in March) or in late winter when the leaf growth. The pruning should be done in a moderate way because the unnecessary and immoderate pruning postpones the start of apple tree flowering and fruit production in young apple trees. For pruning apple trees some issues such as the strength of rootstock and the growth habit of the tree should be considered.

Pruning apple trees has some benefits including:

-    Pruning helps the apple tree to be prepared for fruit growing in the following season and helps regulating the yearly sequence of product.
-    For young trees, pruning helps the growth of the tree and results in a healthy and strong framework which is able enough to bear weighty yield.
-    For mature trees, pruning helps keeping the desired shape of the tree and promots the apple fruit quality.
-    Pruning helps fruits and leaves to receive maximum light from the sun.
-    Pruning helps managing the apple tree growth, so some maintenance operations (e.g. spraying for pest and disease controlling) become economical.
-    Pruning give the tree a well shape which helps the circulation of air inside the tree branches and leaves. The enough air circulation increases the drying speed and decreases the problems with pest.
-    Th pruned well shaped trees yield earlier that not pruned trees and the product has a higher quality.

Points about pruning apple trees

-    Begin pruning from the top part of the apple tree and continue to the down part of the tree. Pruning the top branches of the tree helps the lower branches to receive enough sunlight and should be done once a month.
-    The branches that are infested, dead, broken, or seem to be rotten should be cut off.
-    To keep the balance of the apple tree, the non-symmetrical and undesirable branches should be cut.
-    The parallel growing and opposite growing young branches should be cut off from the stem. These branches result in crowding and shading.
-    The strong sprouts which are growing upward or toward the top of the apple tree should be cut off totally.
-     The branches which prevent the beneath branches to receive sunlight or cause shade should be cut off or headed back.
-    If you cut off branches excessively, it may have negative results such as decreasing the potential apple fruit production.
-    If the main branches of the apple tree are not strong enough or have lost their strength, you can prompt them by pruning.
-    Regarding young apple trees, the best way for pruning is to consider a vertical trunk, and the side branches should be posited around the trunk with 30-45 degrees.
-    Regarding mature apple trees, we should prune the weak, crossing, inward growing, and too long shoots.  Also, the newly branches should be cut off to increase light penetration to the old branches.
-    Some trees may be neglected and not pruned for a long time. These trees may have a lot of large limbs to be removed. So, first we should decide on the perfect pruned shape of the apple fruit tree, then we start pruning. You are allowed to remove two or three of the large limbs and pruning should happen every three years instead of once a year.

Apple tree watering

The apple trees, especially young ones, should be watered regularly. Throughout the first year, the young apple tree needs about 3-5 gallons of water in seven days of week. But, by aging of the apple tree the roots penetrate the larger spaces in the soil and their need to regular watering decreases. It is important to water the tree before it suffers from severe water shortage. Other than an appropriate and well-draining soil, adding wood chips around the apple fruit helps keeping the soil moisture and decreases the need of regular watering.

Apple tree Fertilization

For the best growth and quality product, the apple tree needs to be fertilized with an appropriate fertilizer. Every two or three years the soil should be checked for the nutrient or fertilizer requirement. The best time to fertilize the apple fruit tree is in spring season. In the first year, the apple growers apply one pound of a balanced fertilizer for each tree. For a mature tree, they elevate the fertilizer amount to about 5 pound. When fertilizing, the fertilizer should have a 6 inches distance from the tree trunk because it may burn the apple fruit tree. The growth of the apple tree best shows the amount of nutrition reception. So, the apple fruit tree needs no fertilizer if it has grown between 12 and 18 inches laterally and outward during a year. The following table gives more information on the amount of fertilizer to be used in connection with the fruit tree age.


Apple tree weed management

Weed growth around the apple tree should be controlled regularly. These weeds and unwanted grasses will decrease the strengths of the fruit tree and minimizes fruit size. The reason is that the unwanted weeds use the nutrients and water needed by the apple tree. Even, the unwanted grasses grown around the tree may have some infections and diseases that may be conveyed to the apple tree.  So, for having a healthy apple fruit tree and a great product, it is necessary to regularly remove the unwanted grasses and weeds grown at the foot of the apple tree. Some of the helpful ways for removing weeds are herbicides and use of Mulch.

Identify apple tree diseases and pests

The apple tree may be affected by some bacterial and fungal diseases such as apple scab, fire blight, cedar apple rust, Gymnosporangium rust, black spot, sooty blotch and fly speck,  and powdery mildew. Firelight is the most serious bacterial disease that may affect the apple tree.

The apple tree may also be attacked by insect pests and mites such as codling moth, apple maggot, San Jose scale, plum curculio, European red mite, and Aphids. Five types of Aphids have been spotted on apple trees: rosy apple Aphid, apple grain Aphid, Spirea Aphid, apple Aphid, and wooly apple Aphid. Aphids feed from apple fruit leaves and they suck the juices of the tree. The high amount of Aphids on apple tree decreases the growth and strength of the fruit tree. The other insect pest that may attack the apple fruit tree is Apple Maggot. Between July and August, these insects start laying eggs in apple fruit tree. One solution that can be applied in small size apple orchards is to hang some plastic balls or red woods baiting with an attractive substance plus a gluey substance. Also, the regular insecticide spraying may help fighting against apple maggot.

In order to fight against pests, two approaches can be applied: curative approach and preventive approach. In preventive approach the chemicals and insecticides are regularly applied in apple orchards. Others may prevent chemical spraying, which may have dangerous results on the apple tree, and they use the organic solution. In other words, they follow the curative approach.
Some of the apple cultivars are resistant to the mites and insect pests, but even these trees may need protection against insect pests, mites and diseases. In condition of choosing an appropriate solution, the apple tree diseases and pests can be kept under the control. As an example, you can choose and plant a resistant-to-insect cultivar. Or, you can use the insecticides to stop the insects. The insecticides should contain the least toxic material dangerous for human, animals, and beneficial birds and insects. It is preferred to use the chemicals which are labeled both as insecticide and fungicide.  Also, for the maximum effect, the insecticide spraying should be done at the proper time. As an example, for managing fungus the spraying should be done when the first green tissues start growing in spring. Also, for killing insects and aphid eggs, the materials such as Horticultural oil, should be sprayed at the proper time which is in early spring or exactly when the first green tissues start growing.



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