The apple tree is one of the most popular trees that you can grow on your property. Apples are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the world, and the spring flowers and the summer shade provided by the apple tree are just added benefits.
Apples are produced by the tree through pollination of the flowers in the tree. Due to the fact that most of the apple trees are not able to self-pollinate, apple trees are grown in orchards, as this encourages fruit production by a considerable margin.
Once it is planted, the apple tree will generally bear fruit during its fifth year. In some cases, the tree might start bearing fruit in its fourth year as well. The apple can be eaten right off of the tree, and as you already know, it has a lot of health advantages.
However, you have to understand that the apple tree needs a considerable amount of care. If you have apple trees growing in your garden, you need to take appropriate steps to care for them, otherwise your tree will begin to die.
If you have an apple tree that is already dying, it could be because the plant is diseased. There are a number of things that you need to know about the apple tree, especially if you want to prevent it from a premature death.
First of all, you have to understand that the apple tree requires at least eight hours of sunlight on a consistent basis during the growing season. If the plant does not get enough sunlight, it won’t be able to grow, much less bear fruit.
Secondly, you must understand that your apple tree could be exposed to a range of diseases and problems, and learning a thing or two about these is also very important.
Here are some of the most common diseases that could affect your apple tree, and what you can do about them.
1 – Apple Scab
One of the most common and incredibly serious diseases that could have a negative impact on your tree is the apple scab disease. It usually manifests during the early weeks of spring and generally increases in severity during the rainy season.
It is caused due to a fungus that tends to grow during the winter months on leaves that are left on the ground. These infected leaves then release the fungus spores during the early parts of spring (especially in the wet season), and the spores usually find their way on to the new growth on the apple tree.
These scabs generally appear as olive-colored lesions and you will notice them appearing on the underside of the new leaves. Most people tend to ignore this, hoping that it will fix on its own.
Unfortunately, this is quite serious, and it won’t fix itself. With the passage of time, you will notice the leaves becoming mottled. The edges will also turn black.
If a tree is severely infected by the apple scab disease, it will completely lose its foliage by the start of the summer. As the tree gets defoliated, it becomes more and more vulnerable and exposed to a myriad of other problems.
Thankfully, dealing with the problem is quite easy. You can opt for varieties of the apple tree that are scab resistant, or you can take the cleaning seriously during the fall season.
If there are leaves strewn all over your garden or your backyard, you should consider raking the leaves on a consistent basis. Also, if you notice your apple tree losing foliage quickly, you should consider spraying the tree with fungicide during the early spring months.
2 – Cork Spot
Another common disease that may affect your apple tree is the cork spot. It usually looks like damage caused by hail or insects when you first look at it.
The disease usually targets plants that are grown in acidic soil, or those which suffer from a major calcium deficiency. The disease can be seen in the apples produced by the tree, as they usually have small dimples.
With the passage of time, these dimples will turn soft and the fruit loses its appearance. While you can still consume the fruit, nobody wants to eat an apple that has a dimple that is soft and squishy to the touch.
Dealing with cork spot is pretty easy, and you don’t have a lot to worry about. First, as mentioned, you need to try and raise the pH value of the soil.
Apple trees generally prefer balanced soil, so try to achieve that. The best way to do that is by adding lime to your soil. You might want to get a soil test analysis done to determine the pH value of your soil as well.
If you want, you can also spray the trees with a mixture of calcium chloride and water. Ideally, you should add no more than two tablespoons into a gallon of water, and then spray it all on one tree.
You will have to apply it four times to achieve the desired effect. Space it out a week and apply regularly. You also have to rely on specific spots to reduce the problem.
3 – Fire Blight
A serious, bacterial disease that tends to be quite prevalent in many parts of the country is fire blight. The worst part is that controlling fire blight is not as easy as it looks.
Apple trees that fall prey to fire blight will usually have brown blossoms, and the leaves are also going to turn a muddy shade of brown. As the disease continues to spread throughout the tree, you will notice the branches and the twigs also turning a shade of dark brown.
The cankers might open and a brown, viscous liquid will start to ooze out of it from time to time as well. The disease tends to infect the wood over the winter and then spreads rapidly throughout the spring months.
The reason why it spreads so quickly is because it doesn’t just move through the rain, but it also spreads through insects that are infected with it.
There are certain apple tree varieties that are resistant to this, like the Jonafree or the Williams Pride. However, there are others that are quite susceptible, such as the Fuji or the Gala apple tree.
There are several steps that you can take to prevent your apple tree from succumbing to fire flight. During the early weeks of spring, you should add fertilizer to your tree. Then, you should hold off on any subsequent applications.
This is going to promote rapid growth that is generally more vulnerable to infections. This way, when the branches get infected, you can easily remove them during the late winter months.
The apple tree generally becomes dormant in the winter months, thus making it easy for you to remove all of these infected branches. A common mistake that many people make when dealing with fire blight is that they tend to prune the tree while it is actively growing.
This is a terrible idea, as the disease is only going to spread further because of this. You should wait until the late winter to remove the infected branches.
The best way to completely get rid of this problem is to burn the infected branches so that the remaining bacteria has no chance to spread further. Remember, never leave the branches on your property hoping that the disease will die off on its own.
It’s only going to spread through the insects. Currently, there are no sprays that you can use to get rid of fire blight if it affects your home orchard.
4 – Mildew
Powdery mildew is another disease that is caused by a fungus. You might notice it developing on the underside of the leaves. The growth is white and generally very soft to touch, usually resembling the sensation of felt.
However, the disease tends to spread really quickly, and before you know it, your apple tree will stop growing properly, and the leaves will begin to wilt. Furthermore, black specks will begin to appear on the twigs and the leaves of your apple tree.
There are certain varieties of the apple tree that are more susceptible to powdery mildew, such as Cortland and Rome. You should avoid them at all costs. More importantly, powdery mildew usually occurs in areas with a higher level of humidity.
The best way to deal with this problem is to make sure that your plant receives a full eight hours of sunlight. There should be considerable space between other trees and your apple tree as that will allow air circulation.
More importantly, in the early months of spring, you need to spray your apple tree with lime sulfur or a simple sulfur solution.
These are just some of the common diseases that can eventually cause your apple tree to die, and what you can do to deal with the problem. As long as you maintain the tree regularly, you won’t have many issues!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.