Friday, February 18, 2011

Planting and care for apple trees

Apple trees need full sunlight for proper growth and quality fruit production. The early morning sun is particularly important since it dries the dew from the leaves, thereby reducing the incidence of diseases.

Apple planting sites should be free of spring frosts and have good air circulation.

Apple trees grow well in a wide range of soil types. They prefer soils with a texture of sandy loam

If home apple producers choose to grow apple trees from whips, they should order apple trees early for spring planting in March or April.

When plants arrive, do not allow the roots to dry out. It may be best to "heel in" the plants until the soil is dry enough to prepare for proper planting. To heel in the plants, dig a small trench and cover the plants with 2 to 3 inches of soil.

Before planting, soak the tree roots in water for half an hour. Dig a deep and wide hole to accommodate the root system. Spread the roots before filling the hole. Hold the tree in place so that the bud union is 2 to 3 inches above ground level. Cover the roots with top soil and leave the sub soil for use last.

Before the hole is completely filled with soil, add two gallons of water. After planting, apply water at the rate of two to three gallons per tree every two to three weeks.

Keep an area at least 12 inches away from the tree trunk free of grasses and weeds. Mulch applied 2 to 3 inches deep over the root zone can help control weeds and conserve soil moisture.

In soils that drain poorly, plants should be planted somewhat higher than they were in the nursery. More air needs to reach the root system when soils drain poorly. In these soil conditions, plants can be placed from 2 to 4 inches higher than they were during their growth in the nursery.

How Do I Prune and Train Young Apple Trees?

Bare-root whips need to be pruned and trained so that they will develop into properly shaped trees. Container-grown apple trees are normally two- to three-year-old trees. These trees need lime spreading and light pruning.

Bare-root trees should be cut or "headed" back to 24 inches to 28 inches above ground at planting. All broken or damaged limbs should be removed. This procedure allows branches to form at desired heights, improves the strength of the tree, and provides a balance between the top and roots.

As the branches reach 4 to 6 inches in length, spring-loaded clothes pins can be used to form proper crotch angles These clothes pins should be removed at the end of the first season. Branches that begin to grow at 18 inches or lower can be cut off during the summer.

After one and two years of growth, all lateral branches below 18 inches or below the first lateral are removed. Remove limbs that have narrow crotch angles (less that 45 degrees).

Apple trees are trained to the central-leader system which will allow three to four groups of four branches to develop for a standard-sized tree. The central leader is cut in March at 18 inches to 24 inches above the last group of limbs to ensure the development of more limbs.

A two- or three-year-old apple tree needs limb spreading to achieve a tree that is wide at the bottom and tapers to a point.

During the third and fourth years, remove all unwanted branches from central leaders and continue to spread limbs as necessary. The central leader will eventually be cut back into second-year wood, to bring the central leader into balance with the rest of the tree. Maintain a central leader and pyramidal form on into maturity. Never allow an upper tier to shade out or outgrow lower limbs.

How Do I Fertilize My Apple Trees?

Apple trees should be fertilized each year in the spring. For optimum tree growth and fruit quality, conduct a soil test every two to three years to determine the appropriate fertilizer and application rates. Refer to Table 2 for suggested fertilizer application rates. Apply the recommended fertilizer as a broadcast over the area under the tree drip line.

How Can I Tell if My Apples Are Ripe?

Apples reach maturity at different times, depending on variety and climate. There is not a specific date at which you can expect to harvest your apples.

Instead, you can observe your apples as they grow and inspect the fruit for certain changes that indicate maturity.

The "ground" or base skin color of the apple changes from green to yellow as the fruit matures. Flesh color also loses its greenish tint and turns yellow or white.

When you are convinced that the apples look mature, take a bite! A mature fruit will be crisp and juicy. A pleasing taste is the final indicator of fruit maturity.

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Anonymous Dian Sastro Wardoyo said...

Nicer information, I just helped this blog. Good job! :)

February 21, 2011 at 2:40 AM  
Anonymous Suhari said...

Hopefully it usefullness... :)

February 22, 2011 at 12:15 AM  

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