Apple questions (pruning and pest)

Planted a Goldrush (M111/M9 interstem) this March as a bareroot. I did get a couple blooms this spring, but did not let it fruit.

It has grown rapidly, the leader is over 7’. However, the laterals are not well spaced or vigorous - almost growing like one of those columnar apples. So I’m not sure how to prune it.

The whole tree.

All the laterals are to one side. What would you do?

My other concern is, there is something eating the soft branch tips, many of which are still pushing growth. Here is the aftermath. It basically leaves a hole in the stem, and the growth above it falls over. I saw a little dark brown or black “worm” as well.

Also, I’m concerned that, here it is less than four days from the autumnal equinox, and not all the branches have set terminal buds yet!

I have a goldrush on G30 that did the same thing. By year 3 it was about 15’ tall with short branches that were covered with flowers and barely grew. It ended up getting bad fireblight in the top so I cut it back to 4’ this past spring and it put on some nice scaffold growth and still had 50 huge apples (that all rotted haha). I think it is generally agreed that heading back a tree delays fruiting, but GR wants to make flowers so bad, I don’t see how heading would really slow it down much in terms of fruit, and would give a better tree structure. I’m no expert and and curious to hear others thoughts.

The damaged branch tips are oriental fruit moth. I have some but I just pinch them off and it does not seem to cause much trouble.

My branches are still growing too. I don’t fert or water in spring with the aim of slowing growth because of firelight. Then I try to focus the growth in the summer/early fall when FB takes a break. I’m in 7b/8a and have never had winter die-back.

1 Like

That tree looks OK. You should get some spreaders and “very carefully” train that upper branch (and lower if you want them) to the side.
Don’t pull it too far at one time or you can break it off. I’ve done it.

That upper branch is not as bad of an angle as it looks like in the picture, I got the pic from almost directly behind it. It’s actually at about a 45° angle.

Goldrush is a naturally spurring, precocious variety that really doesn’t need a lot of help training. If you just keep it topped to the height you want it it should fill out as long as you don’t let it over-crop before it’s realized its space.

Also, remove branches more than half the diameter of the trunk (at point of attachment to trunk). With more vigorous varieties the general rule is more than a third diameter.

With your yard space, I would never have purchased a Goldrush on that rootstock, because the variety is self-dwarfing and early fruiting. On straight 111 it functions about like a Jonagold or Baldwin on that interstem. The literature inadequately stresses the influence of specific varieties on the vigor of a tree. It is almost as important as the rootstock in determining the ultimate vigor and relative precociousness of an apple tree.

If the tree hasn’t cooperated by the time it is over 2" diameter, look up notching to force branching where you want it. The variety usually grows more scaffolds than you need, which are best thinned gradually as it comes into full production.

1 Like