Increasing Flower & Fruit Production in Apple Tree
A big crop of apples or a beautiful Spring flowering on an apple tree is a sign of a happy, healthy tree.
The first step is a good pruning: remove all dead, dying, or diseased branches. Next move onto branches such as “waterspouts” growing towards the interior of the tree. Maintaining these branches cost the tree energy that could be better used in fruit and flower production.
Once the tree is tidy, check for malnutrition. Often, this is characterized by yellow toned leaves, or leaves with yellow spots. The tree can be fertilized by a slow release fertilizer sprinkled on the ground below the canopy or can get a direct injection (supercharged) fertilizer administered by your certified arborist.
Since Calgary is such a dry climate, watering your apple helps reduce stress and produce to its best ability.
Apple Tree diseases
Finally, there are two main diseases of apple trees you can examine for.
The first is fireblight, a bacterial infection that leads to leaves looking scorched or burned. Fireblight can be treated with a direct injection antibiotic administered by your certified arborist. Prevention is the best cure for fireblight –ensure your pruning shears are wiped with alcohol between tree prunings after trimming mountain ash and apple species. Fireblight is eventually fatal to an apple tree.
Oystershell Scale disease
The second major disease affecting apple and crapapple trees in Calgary is Oystershell scale. Scale is a small insect with a hard outer shell that fixes itself to branches, feeding on nutrients flowing under the bark. In sufficient numbers, these insects can kill an apple or crabapple, slowly choking the tree of nutrients.
In a small outbreak, scale can be treated naturally: scale insects are preyed upon by ladybugs. Encourage ladybugs by taping the tree trunk with sticky tape to prevent ants from crawling up the tree. Ants feed on the sweet secretions of the scale and bully ladybugs away from their food source. Also, make sure branches are not touching trees and buildings enabling ants to crawl on the tree. Small scale infestations can also be (gently) scraped off the branches.
Larger scale infections can be treated with an organic Neem oil insecticide injected into the tree trunk by your certified arborist. This treatment ensures everyone (including the birds, butterflies, and bees) can enjoy the fruit and flowers of the apple tree. Imidacloprid (insecticide) is not recommended as it is extremely toxic to bees, butterflies, and ladybugs and may have health effects on mammals and birds.
Usure about your diagnosis? Trust on the judgement of your Arborist!
If you are unsure about diagnosis of these diseases, your certified arborist can assist in helping you to identify what is ailing your apple. Now that your apple tree is trimmed, fed, and has a clean bill of health it is ready to be fully productive, giving a fine display of flowers and a bumper crop of apples.