Without a doubt, apple fruits offer not just nourishment for the cells but also the soul. Most especially if they are perfectly ripened and freshly picked right from the tree. Although they are commonly found in the market, one taste of the sweet, crunchy, and organic apples you’ve grown will make you think twice about buying in the market again.
But of course, it is also no secret that growing apple trees on your own can have its own share of issues. Some of the common problems encountered range from pest problems to nutrient deficiencies resulting in diseases later on. This bit of information is essential to remember, especially if you are planning to grow one in your place.
As apple trees are pretty easy to grow, most of those who go and purchase them in garden centers are enthusiastic about it without having the time to consider potential problems they might have. But with research and effort on your part, you will know what to do. Listed below are some problems you might experience and suggestions to deal with them.
Like any other fruit trees, apple trees are also susceptible to diseases. There are actually so many types to discuss, but you can see this guide for apple tree disease identification. On the one hand, the most common diseases include apple scabs, cedar apple rust, powdery mildew, among others.
This disease is characterized by brownish, scabby spots that appear to be small but eventually spread throughout the surface of the leaves then to the fruit. It is caused by the fungus Venturia inaequalis.
The best thing to do in order to manage infestations is to remove the affected fruit and leaves that have fallen so the disease will not spread further. You can also spray the leaves with lime sulfur on humid days and continue until the scab disappears.
Cedar Apple Rust
Cedar apple rust manifests as small yellow spots with distorted shapes that will eventually appear orange in the leaves and fruits. This type of disease requires two hosts – the alternate host being juniper plants, especially the varieties of eastern red cedars, then apple trees as their final host to complete its two-year life cycle.
If there are red cedars in your area, make sure that they are miles away from your apple tree. Or, you can prevent the disease from spreading by removing the growth in juniper trees in late winter before they reach the telia stage, where orange horn-like structures appear.
If you start to see white growth on the foliage, twigs, or fruit, your apple tree likely has powdery mildew. The infected parts will grow brittle, and the leaves will wither, making the tree more susceptible to other diseases. What’s more, is that your tree will not develop properly and will grow stunted.
The best way to control them is to completely remove and destroy infected shoots during the early spring and, if practical. Trees that are exposed to full sun and pruned to promote good air circulation also become more mildew-resistant.
Additional Note: Susceptibility differs between cultivated varieties, so it is important that you buy those that are of good quality, and better yet, those that are disease-resistant cultivars.
Apple trees are also prone to pest infestations, and three of the major ones that cause annoying tree problems are aphids, maggot flies, and codling moths.
Aphids are tiny insects that usually come in colonies. There are many aphid varieties, including the wooly apple aphid that appears white and cottony, apple grain aphids that are colored green, and rosy apple aphids with a hint of pink or rose-purple.
Both the apple grain and rosy apple cause leaf curls, while the wooly aphids feed on the roots and limbs, which weaken the tree. Spraying the tree with dormant oil can help discourage aphids from attacking your apple tree. Pruning infected stems is also effective.
A maggot-infested apple will have brown, dented spots on the outside and brown tunnel-like markings on the inside. Maggot flies lay their eggs on young apples, and when it’s time for them to hatch, they burrow themselves inside the fruit. They feed and deprive the fruit of nutrients, causing the apple to get damaged and inedible.
Once the worms are ‘settled’ inside, a pesticide is of no use. Your best bet to stop them is by trapping the flies using sticky traps. Hang the traps on the tree at eye level and place them near apple clusters.
Much like maggot flies, codling moths also target developing fruits where adult moths lay their eggs. Furthermore, its larvae feed directly on the fruit and bore themselves at the core to feed on its seeds.
Removing damaged fruits early on can help reduce and control codling moths. You can also check the young, developing apples for frass (brownish spots) regularly. Lastly, you can spray pesticides that are specifically toxic to these kinds of pests.
Growing apple trees yourself can be a rewarding experience. The fruits not only give nourishment but growing them can also be a form of a recreational hobby. However, to ensure that you have fresh and sweet apples to serve your family, care must be taken. You can start by knowing ‘apple tree’ problems and learning how to manage them.
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