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Removing unproductive fruit trees?

 
Posts: 62
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
10
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10 years ago, I planted several apples, peaches, service berries, and plums.  They have been plagued by disease but manage to hang on.  I wouldn't care what they looked like if they produced, but they don't.  The only redeeming value is that they bloom nicely in the spring...or winter.  I've considered removing them in favor of other trees/bushes that have shown promise, mulberry, blueberry, hazelnut.  I am not short on space, but they are taking up some prime real estate near the house.  I just have trouble bringing myself to cut them down 10 years in.  Any thoughts?
 
gardener
Posts: 2519
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Are all of them disease ridden?
I ask because that is a varied assortment of trees and shrubs, so one wouldn't expect all of them to suffer from disease, across the board.
Are they crowded together?
Do you have animals to clean up the diseased fruit,  and maybe break the cycle?

If you are going to start over,  maybe some pawpaws and persimmons would be good.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1179
Location: Victoria BC
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Have you written off the entire species in all cases, or is it possible that a different cultivar would do better for you, grafted to the existing rootstock?

With apples especially there are zillions of cultivars, with varied disease resistances, flowering/ripening times, etc...


Other than that... removal seems tempting. I struggle with this too, even when it makes sense... I am trying hard to fix in my mind from the beginning that my plantings are experiments, and some will be culled.
 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Since they bloom nicely and probably provide some shade is there something that could be done to help them out?  Is the disease curable?

If they were my trees I would keep them unless they would spread disease to any new trees.

Maybe if you describe what is going on with them then someone might offer some suggestions.

Here are some suggestions to help them out:

https://permies.com/t/121384/fruit-tree-doesn-produce-fruit

 
pollinator
Posts: 758
Location: 6a
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The first thing I would do is research what the major pest problems are for fruiting trees in your area.   Identify what is causing the problem and you will have more information to work with.  

Find the cultivars that are resistant to the pest/blite you have and plant out resistant seedlings in another area.  Get those going and it might make it easier to whack the 10-year-old trees.  Once the seedlings get established you could graft the cultivars that do well.

There are so many things that could be going on.  Wet feet,  trees that are blooming at different times so there is no cross-pollination, etc. etc.,     I have varieties of apples that are stressed by CAR but they still fruit.  They never look good this late in the season.  I planted out Liberty apples and they are virtually uneffected by CAR.  

A varieties resistance matters, pruning matters, pollinators matter, sun matters, wet feet matter.   If you have several things going sideways it can really effect the health of your trees.  Just work through the possibilities and you will find a solution.
 
Gray Henon
Posts: 62
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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The trees are affected by several different diseases/pests.   Cedar apple rust and japanese beetles seem to hit the apples the hardest. One of the apples is a Liberty.  It had a great fruit set this year, then dropped all the fruit after it started to rot (possibly from bug infestation)  The beetles seem to really like it as well.  I also have a Goldrush that is supposed to be disease resistant but it looks terrible as well.  I do have an Arkansas Black that looks healthy and has produced a bit of fruit dispite its small size. The peaches look relatively healthy, but the years I have gotten a fruit set, they all turn moldy.  The service berries also appear relatively healthy, but the fruit seemed to have a rust like disease, the caterpillar also enjoy defoliating them.  The plums (Methley and chickasaw) bloom early have never really set fruit.  I bought some "wilder" plums from Oikos, some of which have grown well (others grew then died) but never really set any decent fruit, one of them set seeds;).  I look around a lot at what others have growing in the area and they seem to have the same issues unless sprayed.  Ironically, my pears get fireblight, look terrible, and dont produce some years, but they seem to soldier on.
Just writing this has me ready to move on!
 
Posts: 85
Location: Western MA, zone 6b
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Maybe this needs some focus on soil health to support healthier trees?   What sort of mulching/ watering/ companion system do you have going on?  
 
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: Haiti
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Plant new trees and if the originals don't fruit by the time the new ones come up, give them the axe!
 
William Bronson
gardener
Posts: 2519
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Grey, your scaring me...
Seriously, you seem to be doing a whole bunch of things right, with iffy results.
I understand spraying clay is considered a good better than organic form of pest control, and some people swear by compost tea to boost resistance to all kinds of disease, but to me ,the need to spray to get a yeaild is disappointing...
 
pollinator
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Mulberries are very strong trees and I don’t know if any diseases or pests with them. Maybe you could plant a mulberry tree among those trees, then as the mulberry grows into a big monster it’ll feel easier to chop down the surrounding trees?

I say this because my wife won’t let me chop down the beautiful roses we have. So I planted a black mulberry and fig just inches away from the roses. As the trees grow higher (the mulberry certainly is- like I said, they’re really tough trees) I’ll chop the roses down when it looks ridiculous. Or i’ll just let them all live as a strange jungle.
 
Posts: 64
Location: Central NJ, Zone 6b
20
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Don’t throw good money after bad.  Since they’re in “prime real estate,” then it makes no sense to me not to replace them.  

Maybe do simething cool with some of the wood so as to get some residual value out of them.
 
Gray Henon
Posts: 62
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Tim Kivi wrote:Mulberries are very strong trees and I don’t know if any diseases or pests with them. Maybe you could plant a mulberry tree among those trees, then as the mulberry grows into a big monster it’ll feel easier to chop down the surrounding trees?

I say this because my wife won’t let me chop down the beautiful roses we have. So I planted a black mulberry and fig just inches away from the roses. As the trees grow higher (the mulberry certainly is- like I said, they’re really tough trees) I’ll chop the roses down when it looks ridiculous. Or i’ll just let them all live as a strange jungle.



A weeping mulberry is on the list!
 
Posts: 59
Location: Fort Worth, TX 76179
23
hugelkultur purity forest garden
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i feel like we need more info here. what is your soil like? are you organic?

Location?

is your property saturated with potential toxins.. seems odd that all of them are doing so poorly.
 
Gray Henon
Posts: 62
Location: Appalachian Foothills-Zone 7
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Located in the Southern Appalachian Foothills.  Very hot and humid in the summer.  The most of the trees were mulched with composted wood chips, but I quit mulching the apples when the voles moved in.  Soil is heavy red clay.  Trees were hand watered during establishment, the again if needed during dry spells.  

My mulberries, hazelnuts, pears, figs and blueberries are producing.  My chestnuts, pecans, black locusts, redbuds, persimmons, jujubes, kousas, cornelian cherries, all appear healthy.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 417
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
51
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I live in the blue ridge foot hills, so hot and humid is the norm. (7B) A couple of years ago I started following the recommendations found in the soil series written by Dr. Redhawk.  I stopped using any chemicals and now only apply compost tea (foliar and ground) and fungal slurry to the trees. My trees are now very vigorous and have very little insect signs and fire blight now is non-existent.  
I still get a rust (not Apple Cedar but Quince Cedar Rust) on my Asian Pears.  This winter I will make some JADAM Sulfur spray.  I have the materials but will wait till late winter to make.
The only real problem left that I am tackling is squirrels.  Maybe a mean dog is in order.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1040
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Dennis, eat those little bastards. That’s actually a big producer of meat in this climate. I don’t eat many because I trade them to a neighbor but I harvest a couple hundred a year, no joke. Get a good 22 cal air rifle and a better optic and you will be surprised how productive they are especially with a dog to push them around the tree.

An underrated resource.
 
master pollinator
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Get rid of them.

There is no sense keeping something that is not working, and cannot be fixed.

What would you do if a broken lawnmower was right next to your house, and you could not get it fixed...ever? You would sell it for scrap metal and get something out of it,

I once built a formal dining room, then a month after it was done, realized it was stupid to have a dedicated room for something we spent a half hour in per day...so I ripped it out a month after making it. There is no lose in that, it was not working, and life is too short to mess with something that does not work, nor ever will.
 
Dennis Bangham
pollinator
Posts: 417
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
51
fish fungi foraging bee building medical herbs
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I cannot use a gun where I live which is suburbia.  I can trap them and then bury them around the trees.  Fertilizer like nature intended.  
They are smart and I need to find ways to make it hard for them to get the treat since they can easily clean out the bait and leave. I am finding that wire tying a peanut to the trap works.  I now have something digging into the wood chips. I have a fenced yard so think it is a possum or racoon.  Can a armadillo climb a fence?
 
Priscilla Stilwell
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: Haiti
26
forest garden rabbit greening the desert
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I ordered this handy little silent weapon to use against goats and stray dogs. https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07MQN37TZ?ref=ppx_pt2_mob_b_prod_image. It wouldn't kill the larger species, but should take out a squirrel. And it would be fun to try!
 
Dennis Bangham
pollinator
Posts: 417
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
51
fish fungi foraging bee building medical herbs
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They usually come around when I am at work.  I would need a robot targeting system.
 
Posts: 55
Location: San Martin, CA
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Squirrel control may be a losing battle.  You take some out and others willl come in their place.  My dog chases the squirrels, but they just go up the tree and laugh at him.  They only visibly hang out in the pecan trees in the front yard, and haven't been hanging out in my backyard where I planted a fruit miniorchard a couple of years ago that's beginning to fruit.  I've been culling fruit babies because there were too many fruit on them, but the peaches get stink bugs if I don't spray them with Sierra Naturals.  And of course I didnt and lost a lot peaches/

I'm deliberalely keeping my fruit trees trimmed short and planted them close together.  If I lose to many fruit to squirrels, I guess I could build a cage around them.  Something is eating my ripening figs right now, but I don't care because I can't keep up with them anyway.   I have a grape vine that decided to permaculture itself and started growing up the lone pecan tree in the back.  It's growing good grapes now, but I can't reach them!

My climate is so different than yours, so I would first work with the county extension agent to identify your trouble areas. Then extrapolate that knowledge and apply permaculture solutions to mitigate those problemms where you can.  Develop a relationship with a nursery in your area that produces cultivars that are good in your area.

I haven't been active but we have the California Rare Fruit Growers organization whose knowledge base is staggering.  Maybe there's an organization in your area.

Yeah, sorry to make you think too much, but yanking things out and replanting things without knowing what's going on may not be a good idea.
 
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