Help with poor old Apple Tree in Monterey Co. CA

We just moved into a place that has an old apple tree that could use some attention. Two of the three main branches are dead and need to be removed. It has a significant woolly aphid infestation that we might let loose some lady beetles on it. Although, I’m unsure what the black areas are that are growing on it. Black rot or fire blight? Can someone identify what the black is and how to proceed with helping this tree? I know it’s old and on it’s last leg, but would like to try and help it if possible.

@SummerKate – welcome to GrowingFruit!
I see you’re in cold hardiness zone 9. Whereabouts are you located?

Hi Richard,
I’m located in Monterey county, California. The zone is 9b where I’m at.

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Image restriction was lifted so here are some more pictures :slight_smile:

Sorry to say… but that looks sort of hopeless, too far gone to me.

Looking at the first few pics… I was surprised to see that it has green leaves and blossoms… it has not quit trying yet.

You could take out any dead branches now… and perhaps wait until late summer and summer prune it.

If it produces good apples… you might want to collect some scion wood from it this coming winter, and graft it to a rootstock that works for you and start yourself a new tree with your variety grafted to it.

If you have room for both… you could keep the old tree as long as it keeps fighting.

Good Luck



@fruitnut – what’s your opinion?

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I’m not sure what’s going on with the trunk. Maybe fire damage? But whatever it is there’s not much you can do about it other than paint it with white interior latex paint diluted 50:50 with water.

The top looks decent so that’s what really matters. Give it some pruning to remove dead and overly thick wood.

The tree could last many more years.


In my climate that tree would not last long at all due to diseases getting in that huge open wound. But in California it could last a good while longer. It has enough longer shoots on it so it is still vigorous in parts of the tree. I would give it some fertilizer.


Thank you so much for all your help and advice. So glad I found this wonderful forum!

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