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Apple Tree Problems

Apple Tree Problems  Richard Peden

Distorted young leaves and growth is caused by aphids/greenfly. Use soft soap solution sprays or encourage insect predators like ladybirds and wasps.

Brown spots on fruit and leaves is called apple scab and is caused by damp/wet weather. Some varieties are more susceptible than others. Do not store affected fruit. Russeted apples, such as Egremont Russet and St. Edmonds Russet, have tougher skins and get less scab. Varieties that are not called russet but are, e.g. Ashmeads Kernel and Claygate Pearmain, can also keep to March and are of very good flavour. Though not a russet, Lanes Prince Albert is unaffected by most diseases and crops regularly.

Leaves brown and wilting and fruit dropping in mid summer, possibly due to a shortage of water. Water and mulch.

White deposits on leaves and stem is caused by Powdery Mildew. Occurs in dry periods. Cut out infected wood, water and mulch. Sprays are available. 

Young leaves are folded together and webbed, caused by Tortrix moth caterpillars. Remove and squash.

Caterpillars within the apples is caused by codling moth larva. Use a pheromone trap available from garden centres in June and July; this will trap the males and stop them breeding.

Brown papery lesions on the stems is caused by fungal canker. Cut out as soon as it is seen. Scrape away any lesions on the trunk and treat with a remedy from the garden centre. There are types that are more resistant than others.

Brown cavities within the apples is called bitter pit and is caused by calcium and water shortage,especially on large fruits. Water in July and August if possible.

Tree does not put on much growth each year can have many causes but with young trees can be too much competition.  Keep the grass clear for a metre round the trunk.

Not much fruit can have many possible causes. Poor pollination, few bees flying, frost, biennial varieties, lack of nutrients, wind damage, lack of pollinator trees. Plant a few different crab apple trees in an orchard, improve wind protection if possible, check for acidity and act on results with the possibility of lime and fertiliser, particularly ‘potash’ to encourage flower bud production for next year.

Among my apple trees I have planted crab apples, pears, Tamar upright cherry, quince, medlar, mulberry, Cornus mas, walnut, cob nut and sweet chestnut, all of which have unusual flowers and flowering times and produce good things to eat. Cornus mas flowers in winter. I allow the hazel nuts and hawthorn in the hedge to grow for a number of years before cutting back staggered lengths of hedge each winter to keep growth under control. There is always a lot of food and shelter. I also leave a good number of apples on the ground - my black Labrador puts on weight until they are all gone! They attract winter visitors such as field fares, blackbirds, jays, redwings, song and mistle thrushes and lots of finches.