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Establishing a food forest this spring and have fruit tree disease issues in existing pear and apple  RSS feed

 
Posts: 86
Location: Durham region - Ontario, Canada - Zone 5
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I bought a house with a large back yard last year and I'm about to break ground on a orchard/food forest. My question is, do I keep the old crab apple and pear? The pear which is around a foot in diameter and 30ft tall was covered in rust last year, has significant woodpeaker damage on the central trunk and seems to have brown jelly fungus growing from some branches. It did produce a huge crop last year. Please see the pics below

The crab is a multi-stem hodgepodge with sooty mold fungus, aphid issues, some weird lumps and ooze. Didn't get any fruit last year so I can't comment on that aspect. Pics posted here Apple tree pics

I see a few options:
1) TLC and hope
2) Level one or both - If I cut them down, I can't burn them due to bylaws, shouldn't compost I'm guessing ... I'm not sure how to best dispose of them. Thoughts on that?
3) Major renovation with potential topworking.

I'd really like to hear opinions on this as I'm breaking ground in weeks and will be putting in 100+ trees and shrubs in around these existing trees.

Thank you
brown-jelly.jpg
[Thumbnail for brown-jelly.jpg]
brown jelly fungus
bark-pear.jpg
[Thumbnail for bark-pear.jpg]
Bark damage - Scald?
 
gardener
Posts: 3620
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Ed Johnson wrote:The pear which is around a foot in diameter and 30ft tall [...] did produce a huge crop last year.



Sounds like a keeper to me. I value productivity over looks.

Ed Johnson wrote:The crab



I never did understand why people would plant crab apple trees. Seems like a good candidate for grafting-on some edible varieties.

 
Posts: 1884
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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If your new orchard will be devoid of new apples and pear trees, and will instead have hazelnut, almond, yellowhorn nut, persimmon, stone fruits, grape, akebia, kiwi, passionfruit, etc, then yes leave them. Otherwise cull them and BBQ with them. Lets 2 or so year pass then get some supper pest-resistant apple/pear.
 
pollinator
Posts: 598
Location: Victoria BC
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What's around you? If your neighbours have apple/pear trees carrying the same diseases, I don't see much advantage to taking out a productive tree and a promising graft candidate...

The old orchard on my parents land is full of diseased apple trees, many of them kept aloft with posts under the main branches... but they've produced fine for the last 3 decades. Hardly record crops, but there is little soil, little sun, and little time spent on them. Not a single tree has died in that time, except the one snapped off at ground level by a bear.

That's amazing that you can't burn at all! Presumably there's some sort of municipal composting facility you could have the debris hauled to if you took them out?
 
Ed Johnson
Posts: 86
Location: Durham region - Ontario, Canada - Zone 5
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Thanks guys.
I've done some hard pruning and will hold on to the trees for another year or two and see how it goes. I'll be amending the soil and establishing irrigation, so that may help the trees fight off disease.
 
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