Needless to mention, apples are some of the healthy fruits known to us. Right from consuming fresh as table fruits to preparing sauce, they are versatile fruits for everyone. By growing apple trees from seeds or by grafting them, you will not only harvest nutritious fruits, but they are true crowd stoppers for the yard, especially during spring when branches laden with blossoms adorn the yard. But, for successful production of flowers and fruits, understanding how to tend for apple trees is a must for every cultivator.
Apple Tree Care and Pruning
The specific growth requirements for different apple varieties vary from each other. Say for instance, taking care of a golden apple tree slightly different from tending for a crab apple tree. So, while planning to grow them in your home garden, the first thing to check is the type of cultivar that suits the soil type and climatic conditions in your agriculture zone. Discussed below are some useful tips that you can adopt for taking care of apple trees.
Apple Tree Watering
For a newly planted apple tree, regular irrigation is expected for the first year. As for honeycrisp apple tree care, providing 1 inch water per week is sufficient. The point is to maintain moist, but well draining soil for quick establishment of the fruit tree. Mulching with wood chips around it will reduce need for frequent irrigation. It helps in retarding growth of weeds, and also, in reducing loss of soil moisture through evaporation. After one year, you can reduce watering your apple tree.
Apple Tree Fertilization
Perform soil test and foliar test for the nutrient level, and accordingly apply fertilizer during spring time. As a thumb of rule, apple growers use 1 pound of a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) per plant in the first year, and gradually increase the feeding amount to about 5 pounds for a mature tree. Yearly vegetative growth of apple tree indicates whether it is receiving optimal nutrition or not. Healthy soil is confirmed, if lateral growth is of 16 inch or more.
Apple Tree Pruning
When to prune an apple tree? The answer is early spring or late winter before new growth develops. There are specific objectives for pruning an apple tree. A young tree is pruned for promoting new growth and strong framework, while pruning a mature apple tree is aimed at maintaining shape and producing fruits. While dealing with a young apple tree, you can train it to central leader (pyramid shape), open center (vase shape) or espalier shape.
As for pruning a mature tree, it is useful in several ways, such as allowing sunlight penetration to lower branches, removing weak and diseased parts, and shaping apple tree. So, mark weak stems, crossing twigs, inward growing branches and extra long twigs, and prune them. Also, remember that an apple tree flowers and bear fruits on spurs, i.e., last year's growth. Hence, thin off some new growth to promote light penetration to the older branches.
Check for Weed Growth
Even though, mulching hampers the growth of weeds around an apple tree, make a point to follow weed control measures at regular intervals. Grass and unwanted plants that grow around the apple tree will reduce the vigor of your fruit tree. This is because, weeds growing in the same area compete with an apple tree for water and nutrients. At times, disease infections in the adjacent plants may get transferred to an apple tree, thus impairing its growth and fruit development.
Identify Diseases and Pests
An apple tree is prone to many fungal diseases, such as fire blight, apple scab, powdery mildew, cedar apple rust and fire blight. Fortunately, these apple tree diseases can be kept under control with proper care. If you have planted a cultivar that is not resistant to insects (like honeycrisp apple), applying all-purpose insecticide makes sense to prevent insect infestations. After all, you want your apple tree to bloom heavily, and bear juicy fruits, right!
So, this was all about how to care for an apple tree. As long as your fruit tree is maintained in full sun, well draining soil and receives optimal nutrition, it grows luxuriantly. It is further trained and pruned to induce maximum fruit production. Overall, caring for this fruit tree requires a bit of understanding about correct apple tree planting and the ideal growth factors. Follow the above apple tree care guidelines, and it definitely, will turn out to be a productive one.