Deflower Apple Trees

The G11 and G41 apple trees that I planted last year grew like crazy and now want to flower like crazy. I need to remove every flower in order to reduce the potential for Fire Blight on these young trees which could seriously damage or kill the trees. I have tried removing the clusters before or after they turn pink but I always miss some that turn into flowers. I don’t have time to walk through 100 trees every day or two looking for and removing flower buds so I’m looking for a faster process. I don’t believe chemical thinning would work because I don’t want to give the flowers a chance to open and become infected.

I used a toilet brush to remove flower and leaf clusters on my young peach trees to force more vegetative growth. The leaves grew back but the flowers did not -problem solved!

Would that same process work on young apple trees? Any other suggestions to eliminate the flowers before they open?

Looks like it’s going to be impossible to keep all the blooms removed from the new Geneva trees without touching each tree several times a week. The toilet brush worked great at first. Three days later I had to pinch or prune the new blooms again and then two more times until I finally gave up.

I have decided to just focus on keeping the new blooms removed from the leaders and forget about the blooms on the laterals. Unfortunately, the blooms on the leaders provide a FB entry point than can easily destroy the new trees. The Geneva trees are huge compared to my B9 trees and I really want to protect them against FB as much as possible.


Maybe some electric or gas hedge trimmers would allow for quicker removal? Since its just a stock you don’t need to be too concerned about doing a bit of accidental damage.

Just kinda thinking out loud here, but what if you sprayed something like lime sulfur when the blossoms emerge? It might kill the flowers without damaging the trees.

At the very least, the strong fungicide might help to keep the fireblight down?

Disclaimer being this idea is just me thinking out loud and this might not work at all. I was just thinking this might be one of those problems that you’d have to think of an out of the box solution.

Good luck.

ETA: Here is a report from the university of Iowa describing thinning the blossoms via the lime sulfur method. It looks like they combined it with dormant oil as well.

Thanks for the suggestion, that was an interesting article. I believe the oil and lime sulfur would knock a lot of the blooms off and would help a lot.

I quit using Lime Sulfur so I probably should have tried Sevin + Maxcel or perhaps Sevin + NAA.

Its just about petal fall time, so I missed my chance this year.

Hope the strep I have been spraying will control most of the FB problems but flowers on the leaders of new trees provide a direct route to destruction.

Curious, how many years will you wait to let the trees to set fruit? When do you consider the risk of fireblight to be reduced?

Year 3. The trees should be large enough to produce some fruit most of which will be produced on the laterals rather than from blooms directly attached to the leader. Its pretty easy to cut off the laterals infected with FB but when the FB gets to the leader on a new tree its destroyed.