I am new here, and new to fruit growing in general – well, mostly new – my grandparents had fruit trees when I was growing up, and I’ve done a little bit of basic pruning, but that’s it – so I would be very grateful for any help or advice! My husband and I purchased a 7 acre property in VA (zone 6b, Shenandoah Valley) last summer. This apple tree (and two crabapples) that are here haven’t been tended or pruned in at least a few years as the original owner passed away 2 years ago and was in a nursing home before that.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the old gardenweb forums (somehow that led me to here, and I understand a lot of the “wise ones” there are now here! ) as we are purchasing a few new fruit trees this spring and I am incredibly thankful for the advice given out in the past and I hope you are willing to share yet again.
I am guessing this apple to be a Winesap type judging by the few apples we saw last year and their ripening time – the squirrels ate them, though, so can’t tell you the taste! (We have cats now, who are very good hunters – I am hoping they will be of some help in the future!)* I would like to take out anything that is in bad shape/crowded, of course, and maybe keep the tree 3 feet smaller or so – it is about 15 feet tall now and looks to be at normal/mature height. I would also like to be able to graft another variety or two in (not this year, maybe next) if the trunk/roots are healthy enough. (I have a longer list of apple varieties that interest me than we have need for full trees! ) Here’s the tree:
The bark damage/scars on the branches on this apple puzzles me. (See picture below) I know the little holes all over indicate that woodpeckers have been digging out bugs (and maybe that infestation means the tree is doomed? I don’t know on that either!), but I could not find anything that matches this in my Googling**.* I need to know whether any scarred branches should be cut out.**
I_ also would like to know if there is something special I should do (leave a few watersprouts, cut to encourage new sprouts in a certain place?) if I want to have a place to graft in another variety or two next year – provided this tree isn’t doomed_.
The old, spreading crabapple I did get to see in bloom when we were touring the property, long before we bought – it was loaded with white-type blooms and the fruit was the small, edible apple type (like Chestnut Crab). I don’t really know whether I want to cut it back significantly or just do enough pruning to help it out with air circulation – it has such a gorgeous old tree form, was in huge bloom last year, and is in our front yard.* But – if I am not able to spray it completely because of the height – will that pose significant danger to the other apple and to any new trees I plant? (The other established apple is probably 200 ft or more away, and the new orchard will be probably 200 -300 yards) And if I do prune it back significantly – should I do it now, or in summer? Here it is bloom last spring
I will be grateful for any advice! ~JoAnna