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HUGE APPLE TREES

 
Tim Canton
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Hello,

I just bought a property and it has probably 8 apple trees that are just huge.  probably 40 ft tall.    They are producing alot but I cant really harvest any apples until they drop.    What are peoples feelings about this??    do I leave them alone and just collect the drops for cider/eating etc?  do O attempt to cut them back somewhat??    They are huge and do create a nice grassy area underneath that chickens will love  but they also somewhat crowd each other at this point.        Can someone share any info on approaches??

Alos is there some good info on a general permaculture approach to raising fruit trees as far as pruining etc??

Much Love
 
Brenda Groth
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If the crowns are conjested with a lot of water sprouts or suckers you should cut them out to open them up to some sunlight..but if they are producing well I don't know what the problem is other than access.

they make special apple ladders that are more narrow at the top and wider at the bottom to pick apples from..you can also use a lightbulb extension wand for putting lightbulbs in to pick them from higher up.

you can also make an apple picker from a long extension rod for painting or whatever, and attach a cage to the top that is open on one side and if you look online you might find them, they are apple pickers.

you can shake the branches to make them fall when they are ripe.

deer and other wildlife will clean up the drops that you don't use..or you can save them to feed your animals during the winter by holding them in cold storage.

They are standard size trees, we have several here that grew from apple seedlings..most peope now plant dwarfs so they can reach the apples to pick them.

apple wood is good for firewood or smoking meats, so save your prunings
 
Tim Canton
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Thanks  Brenda,

I did not mean to make it sound like a complaint if I did.    I really just want to keep the trees healthy and still harvest as much fruit as possible.  If needed do I cut out all the suckers?  I assume its not wise to cut out any large branches unless sick or problematic?    Thank you for the info.
 
Jordan Lowery
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if its not broken, don't fix it. i would leave them be if they are producing away. why cant you harvest them before they fall?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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organick wrote:If needed do I cut out all the suckers?


The usual practice is to cut the great majority of them, but leave those that would grow into healthy branches.
 
Tim Canton
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The harvesting before fall issue is the are growing on a slope and there are apples easily 40 ft off the ground........

another quick question.    if i put chickens under the trees is there risk of cyanide poisoning from too many seeds??



Actually let me take it a step further  with apple  "safety".....  if making cider    do I need to core the apples first?    There seems to me conflicting info out there.  I would assume yes  to eliminate the cyanide issue??
 
Brice Moss
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we never cored teh apples at the cider parties just dropped em in the grinder and into the press from there

I don't think pressing is gonna release the cyanide from the seeds and even if it does I ate my apples whole seeds and all for years without seeing any ill effects snopes says don't sweat it
http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp
 
Brenda Groth
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wildlife love apple drops, so i can't see any problem with the seeds, esp if they are eating the apples as well as the seeds themselves..ratio..

wild birds and animals eat apples as part of their diet quite regularly and they have no problem with them.

as for the suckers. if they have apples on them you might not want to cut them, but opening it up will give you larger but fewer apples, healthier..so you might want to..it is up to you..i have a large apple tree that has a lot of suckers that i haven't cut out, as it will be a huge job, but i'm sure the tree would benefit from removal of them..

never over prune an old tree in one session..best to do it in bits..some this year, some next year..etc.
 
Josiah Maughan
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Location: wellsville, utah
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so, suckers.


suckers are different plants on the tree, leeching off the same root system.

that means the root system in place is not big enough to take care of them,

heres's a little bit on pruning.

things you need to take off, and can anytime:
dead. anything dead,
suckers. suckers are any branch that is going straight up


other things to prune, but is best in the winter or early spring:
1. any branches that are growing down.
2. any branches that are dying
3. any branches that are rubbing against other branches.
4. one of the two that are competing for the peak
5. any branches that are growing Inboard.
6. any branches that have a bug living in them, which may prevent the bug from reaching the base of the tree, eg. if the branch is hollow, but the tree is not.

there are a couple of different reasons to prune an apple tree.
1. thin it out. it's best for apple production to have airflow, the less apples growing on the tree (proportional to it's size) the bigger the apples will grow. (so if there are too many growing, and you would rather not cut the limb, thin out the apples as they come in)
2. train the tree. sometimes based on the location of the tree, it is best to train it to grow away from an object. it may make the apples easier to pick if you keep it low, or in a shape. also, shaping the tree to a pleasant look.
3. safety. if it will grow into a power line, or if it already has grown into a powerline. (for example)
it's not a good idea to top the tree, since it will encourage suckers to grow at the top of the tree, it is a bad idea however, if it's to prevent growth. it will stimulate the tree's growth, if you don't mind trimming suckers later.

topping any tree, however, is a bad thing. all it does is allows, or even encourages suckers to grow.

this sounds like a real apple tree. which means probably the root isn't a hardier rootstock, but if it is, any suckers that grow at the base may be poplar, which is the tree apple tree's are generally grafted to.
 
Travis Philp
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Regarding harvesting; what about climbing the tree? As long as you stick to the thickest few of the branches the damage should stay minimal? A shoulder bag and/or backpack work really well to put the apples in and still be able to climb hands free.

You may have to do a bit of pruning to gain access but I would venture to guess you could do this and only need to remove shaded out, scraggly branches. Thats how its been in my experience anyhow.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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blot101 wrote:topping any tree, however, is a bad thing. all it does is allows, or even encourages suckers to grow.


There are some cases where suckers are actively encouraged, because the whole system has been set up to make use of them. In the case of topping a tree, this is "pollarding," and in the case of felling it, it's called "coppicing."

Both of these practices can lead to a very old tree, with a very large root systems but a youthful metabolism. Definitely not for everyone, but sometimes a good option to consider.
 
Josiah Maughan
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Location: wellsville, utah
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i can definately see that.  i have some old tree's that i'm waiting to do that too.  the suckers will be used for a rocket thermal mass heater that are in the works. 


good point.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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blot101 wrote:i have some old tree's that i'm waiting to do that to


Cool! What sort(s) of tree, if we aren't too far off-topic?
 
Josiah Maughan
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Location: wellsville, utah
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i'm pretty sure they're ash.i haven't researched i per-say,  i've just grown up thinking they were ash.  they line my street, but there's one in the yard.  my parents pruned them 25 years ago, my guess is they're around 50.  my gripe with them is they're infected with a parasite that makes large branches fall randomly off of them during the slightest wind. so in just a few short years i have stock piled a lot (maybe two cords) of wood because of this. they're tall, and i'm scared of heights.... so all i can do is wait or pay.


also i should clarify, i meant to discourage suckers only on fruit bearing plants. or plants where production is the focus.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I understand ash wood can make a good tool handle. The suckers will likely grow fairly tall and straight the first year. If you let a few of those grow for a while, you might get something a lot more useful than fuel.
 
Josiah Maughan
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Location: wellsville, utah
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you just blew my mind. now i'm excited as hell to give that a try.
 
Jill McPartlin
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There are some videos on you tube by stephenhayesuk on pruning.  I found them really interesting. 

We moved into a house last year that has 5 apple trees and 3 peach trees.  They were bearing fruit last year but then my husband did what he thought was pruning, but actually hacked at them - so this year no fruit.  I'm hoping pruning more carefully will help them be healthier (they have some leaf disease, and bugs). 

Is topping taking off the top middle part?  I'll have to google it and find out.  From what I have learned apple trees like to have an open center.  My trees all have a large system of branches going up in the center.  They are old trees and are about 30-40 feet tall.  I have no idea about the variety. 

I am wondering how much I should prune them to open them up, especially the top, middle section?  Any advice would help me out a lot!   

Do you think pruning them will help them bear fruit again?  If you have more advice as to keeping them healthy I am all ears. 
 
rose macaskie
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Last time some one talked about cynide in the pips and stones of fruit i loooked it up and found that there is cynide in bamboo shoots and a  root that is eaten in africa and so they have to be properly cooked, so it seems that if you cook the cynide it wont effect you. There were no specifications on properly cooked or on what thappens to cynide when it is cooked, though may be if i looked for longer there would be. Sounds like jam woiud be properly cooked, i cook jam for ages.
    I dont know how it effects hens though hens lived in my grnadmothers orchard and no one worried about the fruit hurtign them, she did not have more than plums in the orchard the apple trees were in the vegetabe garden . I suppose hen keepers could tel you. if htere is no tradition of worrying about  hens in orchards probably there is no problem with hens and apple seeds.
  Didn't mt goat know about cnynide, he was talking of eating fern and there was some mention of some poison in the fern and he said somthing abut cooking it out if i remember right.

    Trees produce many more suckers if you prune them, a mass of upward growin branches,  it is not normal for unpruned trees to produce a lot of upward shoots.

    I read a book whose advice on pruning seemed to give the advantage to summer pruning. He said that if you prune before the tree has sent down all its goodness to the roots in autumn then ithe tree  does not grow with the same vigor in the spring that makes it put out a lot of new shoots if you have cut out branches an dit has suddenly no where to go and he also said that as it is summer when you cut the branches and the growing season he thought the tree should heal better.

    If your sucker is a branch that comes from below the place where the tree or rose has been grafted on to the root stock  then the branch will be different from the other branches of the tree, it will come from the root stock whh is usually a completely different type of tree a man on a permaculture video said crab apples make a good root stock for apples.

  If the sucker is a branch  growing straight up from the arms of the tree ¡s of after prunning i think the disadvantage is that it grows straight up and normaly, to have a well shaped tree, you cut off upward growing brances. I dont prune because i dont like suckers, my husband however does prun but ponly th eapple trees and not all of them. I could hardley be called a good grower of fruit though.agri rose macaskie
 
rose macaskie
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I think brenda groths idea breaks traditions in a positive sort of way. We get hide bound by tradition if we are used to only a few fruit trees in a place we dont think of trying lots. Miniaiture fruit trees have got very small, why not have lots.
   WHen i read her peice I thought of my brothers old garden in london that was  a very long garden, the gardens are one house thick and pretty long, one could plant miniature fruit trees along all the edge of the garden and if the earth was full of nutrients, maybe, they would produce a lot of fruit.

       I had a friend, at the moment an enemy, who when she goes for something gets it done all at once and lavishly, otherwise she is dead frugal that frugality  allows her to go on exotic holidays.  She would put in a lot of fruit trees if she was going in for fruit trees she is, in some feilds, a much more efficient person than me. I would want her if i started a business. It is a sort of sepp holzer behavior, make a berm, well, lets make a enormouse berm, some people find it easier to handle a lot than others is my observation. agri rose macaskie.
 
Brenda Groth
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Blot101, what you have is likely the emerald ash tree borer, and the ash trees that are infected have to come down. The emerald ash borere gets under the bark and kills the tree, the wood should be burned for firewood but do NOT transport it anywhere, as the emerald ash borer can only fly within a half mile area, and so they won't spread quickly, unless the wood is moved. then they will hatch out and spread quickly, killing off all of the ash trees in the country eventually.

people spread it here from the east coast bringing firewood up in their campers to Northern Michigan, now all of our beautiful ash trees are dying..as well as the elms from the new elm disease..

lots of firewood now, but not a lot of beautiful healthy trees ..ash borers kill ALL ash forms
 
john smith
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organick wrote:
I just bought a property and it has probably 8 apple trees that are just huge.  probably 40 ft tall.


I would top the tree because all the tree's energy keeps going to the top, and it would be dangerous to try and harvest the apples.  You can cut any branches that you want, though established branches are more work.  I prefer training the branches to go sideways, so the energy goes into fruit, instead of causing the tree to keep growing taller.

Also I would cut off all the suckers, as the rootstock might be different than the tree, and the suckers would not bear the same quality fruit.

In "Living The Good Life" by Nearing, they told about topping a huge apple tree, bringing it down to 8 or 10 feet.  The tree didn't bear any fruit for a few years, then produced an enormous amount of delicious apples from then on.  It helps to take a really good look at the trees, to see which are the best lower branches to save, and to cut off the rest of them.
 
rose macaskie
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    I have periodically dying elms on my plot, it is a bit of a nuiscance, they take up a lot of nourishment in the soil if the dificulty i have had had establishing other plants near thenm i s a measure oft this  i think as i have had trouble establishing things near them but i dont want to cut them down, i hope that one day they may be able to over come the disease. I think they grow up again from the roots. I have never seen seed on them and i read that they were normally taken from cuttings so all the elms in one county in England had the same shape as they where clones of hte same tree. I dont know how they can decide what shape trees are as we have so much to do with their shape cutting them into the shapes we please.
    I wondered if the elms don't fall prey to the elm disease because their is very little genetic variety  whixh makes it hard for them to have some trees hardy enough to survive the disease. 
  The elm disease is three pronged if i remember right, beetles under the bark infect the tree with fungus, i can't remember the other prong.
  paul stamets talks of innoculating trees with fungi that are parasitc but less so than others, the turkey tail or cauliflower mushroom. Less parasitic than the fungi you wish to control but they do for the enemy fungi but not for the tree.so that the fungi you innoculate the tree with kills the killer fungi but does not kill the tree, at least not for  a long time. agri rose macaskie,
 
Leif Kravis
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i'm planning on pollarding 4 old mangos , 30-40 years old,overgrown with epiphytes, gonna take them down to 5 feet and let them resprout, next year cut out all but the 5 or 6 best shoots, apparently this is fairly simple to do, my christmas holiday will involve a lot of cutting and planting.
 
Walter Jeffries
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organick wrote:I just bought a property and it has probably 8 apple trees that are just huge.  probably 40 ft tall.    They are producing alot but I cant really harvest any apples until they drop.


Get pigs. They love the dropped apples. You harvest the ones you can reach. What falls is animal food.
 
Emerson White
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Pigs can damage tree roots.

A fruit harvesting pole can pay for itself with a good old apple tree.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Emerson White wrote:Pigs can damage tree roots.


Yes, and so can cattle, sheep, tractors and all sorts of other things. Glouster Old Spot pigs in particular and pigs in general are a traditional orchard pig. How you manage the grazing makes a huge difference in whether an animal is going to damage the roots, limbs, trunks, etc. Grazing animals under apple trees is a valuable technique for keeping the orchard organically pest free, cleaning up drops, mowing weeds and grass plus it feeds the animals. Don't dismiss it until you've succeeded at it.

BTW, we have about 300 pigs plus lots of apple and other trees - they go together great. Sheep too although sheep are more dangerous to young fruit trees - takes more care to manage them.

Cheers,

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Kirk Hutchison
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soil wrote:
if its not broken, don't fix it. i would leave them be if they are producing away. why cant you harvest them before they fall?


Ahh, you stole my saying . I like "If it ain't broken, don't fix it", since that was a favorite of my southern grandfather.
 
Emil Spoerri
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I disagree that the trees should be pruned at all. Usually a prune means that the tree must be maintained many more times in the future or it will become a tangled mess. The less you prune a tree, the more natural it will grow. 40 feet tall is way too tall to prune. What you have is old huge apple trees that will last a very long time, pruning could further compromise what might be old trees, not in the best and most vigorous condition. If anything I would thin out the smaller and more sickly trees to make room for the more robust, vigorous and high producing trees. If you do major pruning, you must do it when the tree is dormant or it will for sure kill the tree. Pigs are more of a problem with dwarf trees than full grown old apple trees, but just like most other animals too many pigs will destroy most of the vegetation in an area eventually if confined and fed feed brought in. I don't think that pigs would do much damage if there were few enough of them that most of their feed was obtained by plants in the areas they occupied. I estimate in regular rainfall areas, 1 sow to the acre would not overly disturb well established perennial grasses and other forages.
 
paul wheaton
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