There are three trees that are exhibiting this behavior. All of them are re-grafted trees, but I wouldn’t think that would make any difference. They are all loaded with “blind wood,” have just a few leaves only at the tips of long branches and bear no or minimal fruit.
One started its life as a King David semidwarf (sorry I don’t remember the rootstock), but because the quality of the fruit was unsatisfactory and I wanted bittersweet apples for cider, I top-worked it to Medaille D’or. That’s the worst one.
The second-worst was originally a Pitmaston Pineapple dwarf. I top-worked it to a number of varieties, including Zabergau Reinette and a couple of the Albert Etter pink/red varieties.
The third was originally a Cox’s Orange Pippin dwarf. Then I top-worked it to Tydeman’s Late Orange and Freyburg.
Unlike in TNHunter’s garden, the leaves didn’t leaf out and fall off – they never showed up in the first place.
Yes, I’m aware of Kuffel Creek and Applenut. Maybe I should be growing the types of apples that work in his climate rather than English or French varieties. I live in an inland location in Northern California. It isn’t quite as hot here as it is in Riverside in Southern California, where Kuffel Creek is located, but it’s quite hot and most of the summer. Temperatures over 100 are not uncommon. Medaille D’or is exceptionally late to break dormancy, among the latest of any apple. By the time the tree leafs out in late May or June, it is already hot here.
What I’m gathering from the link you sent me is that the problem I’m experiencing is a result of trying to grow high-chill-hour apples in a low-chill location, exacerbated by apple varieties (such as Medaille D’or) that don’t break dormancy until the weather is warm.
I’m intrigued by the thought on your link that bending the branches down to a horizontal plane can help. But I think the solution is to rip out these low-chill, late-blooming varieties and re-plant others that are more low-chill friendly.
I will still post a picture if I can.
Thanks to everyone,