My husband and I recently purchased 147 acres of land in Northern Michigan that we hope to move to next spring and begin restoring (much of the property was clear cut before being lost to the bank). The property has an older apple tree that appears to not have been maintained in many years if ever. My best guess is it is an older heritage type Macintosh tree but of this I am not certain. The tree was loaded with apples this year due to a good growing year and the apples are delicious but do have scab and some worm issues typical of not being cared for. The apples only have 3-4 seeds TOTAL which I understand means the trees resources may have been depleted. My question is what would be the best thing I could do as far as mulching/feeding, pruning, dormant oil, etc and when exactly should this be done? The ground where the apple tree is is pretty sandy so lack of water the last few years may have played a part, but looking for other ideas to get this tree healthy. We just finished making 25 quarts of awesome organic applesauce and I want to keep this tree producing and chemical free for future years. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
Sarah Edwards : Mostly what I have learned through these pages, if pigs or goats are allowed to forage for the drops, after several years theScab and worm issues will
be diminished, With goats of course you have to carefully tether them to protect the trees bark and branches, or bring the 'drops to them !
I have been told with highly compacted soil that lightly tilling a circle out at the 'drip line' of the tree has been effective at invigorating older trees, but that does not seem
to be a problem from your description !
If it is only one tree it will probably have to be located down hill from your house and outbuildings to make any sense in channeling your run off towards it ! Hope this helps,
I am sure you will get more advice soon ! Big AL !
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
Scab is a fungal disease - allowing for more light and air flow will help with this. I.e. judicious pruning of overcrowded sections and fruit thinning.
Worms: interrupt their reproductive cycle by promptly removing dropped fruit. Chickens will help with this.
General health: mulch with woodchips; consider underplanting with beneficial plants (search for "apple tree guild")
Add finished organic compost to the soil surface under the trees canopies as often as annually. Apply non allelopathic mulch over the compost. Then release the hogs! They clean up infected debris and in return provide perfect fertilizer.
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