The Q&A Archives: Barren Apple Trees

Question: I have 3 apple trees that only produce small looking crab apples.These are red and delicous type. I have pruned them up nicely but still nothing, and I also made sure they would pollinate each other to. Any suggestions on what is going wrong?

Answer: If your trees are planted in full sunshine and are making good growth each spring, there are probably one or two potential causes for poor fruit set. Let's presume that the blossoms are being pollinated; 1)because you have the kinds that pollinate each other, and 2)you haven't over-used pesticides so there are plenty of bees around to visit the flowers. Fruit develops on spurs, usually on 2-3 year old wood. Hard pruning may result in the loss of fruiting spurs, which would cause fewer blooms the following spring. Prune carefully and you won't prune off all the fruiting spurs. When the fruit begins to form, you should thin the clusters, leaving only one or two fruits. If you leave too many, the tree won't have the energy to develop and ripen them all - and you'll end up with smaller fruit. There's a terrific reference book to help you through the pruning process. Why not see if your library has a copy? It's called 'Pruning' by Christopher Brickell, ISBN# 0-671-65841-7 The book is published by Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. Good luck with your trees!

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