The problem with late blooming apples

This season has been one for a very long stretch between first and last blooming apples, which, in my region in southern NY state, are usually only about a week apart and close enough for some overlap, except for the rare, extreme late bloomer.

However, this season it has been frustrating to wait for the last apples to drop their petals, probably the result of so much cool rainy weather during the bloom period.

I spray scores of orchards and try to accomplish protection from most insects and fungus with two sprays, or at least only two containing insecticide. Usually I don’t get much damage to peaches, pears, plums, cherries, cots or apples before the slow pokes drop their petals, but this year, I was seeing damage before that.

I finally started spraying before last apples lost their petals at some sites, and just avoided those specific trees. Hopefully a single spray will protect those apples.

Some of the trees that were problematic had two varieties on them, however, so protection is more doubtful. It made me realize the importance of grafting varieties with a similar bloom time if you are using poison to protect fruit, or if you are counting on them to cross pollinate.

The latest varieties I noticed were Kidd’s Orange-Red, Suncrisp, Brambly’s Seedling, Roxbury Russet and N. Spy.

For home growers, an additional spray may not be a problem, but you may want to keep late and earlier bloomers not only off the same tree but far enough apart on separate trees so as not to inadvertently get spray on the later bloomers.


Do these varieties typically fare significantly better in years when marginally late frosts limit crops?

Very interesting, Alan. Oddly enough, Kidd’s was one of the first apples to start budding/leafing out for me here in Western Mass. No blossoms yet, the trees are still young.

My Kidd’s graft bloomed this year ( only two clusters). They bloomed about the same time as some William’s Pride (WP was early but had overlapping bloom time). I recalled because I hand pollinated them for fear that bees were too cold and too wet to fly.

Lack of sun really messed up bloom time. My few Honey Crisp blooms (in shader part, too) bloomed later than Kidd’s.

The latest bloom time was Crunch a Bunch. I sprayed my first insecticide on Wed. All but Crunch still had a few blooms on it but I had to spray as I saw bug damage on trees and CAR on Fuji.

Glad you mentioned multi grafted trees and the selection of bloom time. It is a good reminder. I was thinking that I would like one tree that can offer early, mid and late fruit. Those varieties may have quite different bloom times.

It is very rare to get late, hard frosts here that effect apples. The last time that happened was in late May, so all apple varieties were affected.

All bets are off with changing weather, but apple growers around here see apple crop loss due to frost as a once in a generation thing.


Another problem with late bloomers in my area is fireblight susceptibility. I’ve noticed that late bloomers are much more likely to get hit by blossom blight than early bloomers. For trees I know are fireblight susceptible with an extended bloom period, I removed all late blossom clusters this year. I missed a few clusters, and they were ALL hit by fireblight, when none of the early clusters were. I realize this isn’t practical for large operations, and one person’s experience and a few years data isn’t enough to make a final judgment, but I’ll be repeating this plan next year


One reason this forum is so much better than other sources is that it often contains regional info that is missed elsewhere, including in commercial guidance provided by land-grant U’s. Often information is rounded off to serve the widest possible range of areas.

I have learned so much about fruit trees I could never get from other sources here, and have also provided it based on a much different realm of experience than had by others.


I also pick off all later blooms for the same reason. Once i can tell i have enough fruit set, i strip everything else. The cougarblight and marybligjt models predict much much higher infection potential at warmer temps. The worst is 1 yr old wood that flowers on some varieties if pulled below horizontal because they flower late and FB tears through that young wood. It happened to my young trees in a very bad way.

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Around here I don’t even often see fire blight on flowers. It’s usually shoot blight I see.

I see some on flowers but more often shortly after petal fall as a drop of golden ooze on the stem of the tiny fruitlet. And also on new growth that had a flower cluster at its base. Spraying strep last year and this year has coincided with nearly zero new infections.

Just so i dont get overconfident, today i noticed my 2nd leaf grimes oozing near the graft union. I never let flowers open on that tree and therefore didnt spray, so i have no idea how it got FB there. Im down to yates and goldrush and a few other grafts.

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What are the signs that the flower itself is infected with Fireblight?