2017 Season

Mar 4 – Pruned apple trees along lane.

Apr 1 – Pruned most Apple trees, applied dormant oil. Grafted HoneyGold and HoneyCrisp to front yard tree.

2016 Season

Jan 6 – Ordered 7 new fruit trees: 3 pear (Patten, Seckel, Debbies Gold), 3 plum (American, Superior, Underwood), 1 apricot

Feb 23 – Pruned apple trees … until shears broke in half. 2 left.

Mar 8 – Finished pruning trees. Grafted HoneyGold scion onto MacIntosh tree

Apr 3 – Pruned old apple tree in front yard way back. Grafted HoneyGold and MacIntosh scions onto it.

Apr 11 – Fedco: Space plum trees so tips intermingle 6-8 ft. Can space further apart if enough boron in soil. Need soil test before adding amendments. Pears can be spaced like apple trees, 15 ft. Blossoms not as sweet as apples; place near apple to encourage bees to pollinate. Bees will fly miles to pollinate an apple tree.

Apr 13 – Planted 7 fruit trees: 6 in orchard (pears and plums), 1 near the house (apricot).

Apr 16 – Watered all trees with miracle grow solution (recommended in early spring).

May 13 – Pear leaves look curled, bumpy and unhealthy. Otherwise trees appear to be fine except weather has been extremely cold, rainy and windy. Possibly lost HoneyCrisp during bloom this year.

May 19 – Fenced in two pears with larger fence. Pear tree looking better. Still bumpy/curled leaves but more growth all around.

May 23 – Continue to water according to schedule. Trees seem good but mail orders are so small.

Jun 4 – Re-staked Zestar trees which are now 12′ tall in the center leader. Considered cutting tops but that’s where most of the apples are. New plum and pear trees are leafing well.

Jun 15 – Noticed some deer damage to one of the plum trees. Tomato cage allows too-close access.

Jun 21 – Re-staked Zestar again — this time with conduit. Single pole 15′ tall, 6″ off center, pounded 4-6 feet into the ground working great.

Jul 3 – Cherry tree starting to ripen.

Jul 6 – Many trees blown hard in big storm, only Zestar remained upright. Purchased conduit to stake remaining tress the same.

Aug 15 – Zestar beginning to ripen — just so few left. Only harralson and liberty has a decent crop this year.

Aug 20 – Zestar ripe.

Sep – Most apples so badly pestered they weren’t worth eating.

Sep 26 – A couple of bites from a lone honeycrisp today — the best apple i’ve tasted all year! Next year commit to spraying to get a better harvest.

Oct 7 -Tried last apples (HoneyGold). Were very blemished and some fell on ground with recent winds. So none was very good eating. But was the right timing for ripeness.

Apple tree maint websites:

umaine.edu/ipm/programs/apple/
Fruit.cornell.edu
​uvm.edu/~fruit/
GroworganicapplesI.com

2015 Season

Sprayed insecticide once early in the season but did not repeat due to the beehives being moved to the center of the orchard.

Never needed to water (had enough rain). Fertilized once with MG in June(?), will fertilize again in late Aug.

Better crop than last year, but trees need to be restaked. Cedar Apple Rust a problem for the honeycrisp but other trees appear good.

Aug 22 – Zestar harvest – 20 apples.

Sep 20 – HoneyCrisp harvest – ~40 apples; Prairie Spy and Macintosh harvest but not fully ripe yet.

Oct 5 – HoneyGold optimum harvest (tastes like apple-pear hybrid).

Oct 11-13 – Weeded, remulched apple trees.

Oct 12 – Last HoneyGold, last apple falls for the year.

2014 Season

May 23 – Apple trees delivered! Planted, watered, and fenced.

Jun 8 – Picked apple blossoms from Prairie Spy and Haralred. Only a few blossoms left on the rest of the trees, didn’t pick many others. Worm signs on front yard trees and deer damage to HoneyCrisp lower branches.

Jun 23 – First spraying of apple trees.

Jun 27 – Yellowing leaves on Zestar. Lots of worm sign on the remaining apples. Other trees look good. Harralson and Liberty (front yard) especially fruitful.

Jun 29 – Staked front yard trees.

Jul 8 – Staked last 4 apple trees (row nearest to house). Sprayed trees. Cedar apple rust (CAR) basically on all trees to some degree.

Jul 13 – Harralson very abundant. Not many apples on the other trees. Can water every other day now.

Jul 17 – Three branches broke off Harralson (!), overweight with apples.

Jul 19 – Fenced front-yard trees.

Aug 14 – UMN extension recommends waiting on fertilizing the blueberries until next Spring. Use elemental sulfur as recommended.

Aug 23 – Spoke to apple growers at state fair, was provided info sheet on when to harvest apples. Most come ripe in late Sept-Oct. Zestar being earlier, late Aug-early Sep.

Aug 25 – Been 12 weeks, can water every week now until end of season.

Aug 30 – Picked Zestar — was ripe (and big). Tasted more tart than honey crisp, slightly chalky. But overall very good and the best apple we’ve grown so far.

Sep 16 – Picked Harralred — large and untainted. Slightly under-ripe (seeds were brown but not black) but also a more tart apple. About 1 more week would be ideal. HoneyCrisps suffering bad CAR.

Early Oct – Picked last of HoneyCrisp and Harralred. The later the better tasting!

Oct 12 – Re-mulched all the apple trees in the orchard.

Oct 24 – Re-mulched the two apple trees in front-yard.

Dec 4 – Leif came out to prune the apple trees (and teach me how). More important to prune aggressively when the tree is young. Main apple branches will be chin-high off the main vertical. Branches don’t grow up — they stay where they are forever. Large trees self-prune the lower branches over time. Leave lower branches on apple trees first couple of years to absorb more sunlight, then cut off. Should cut the following: vertical shoots; branches that compete with the main trunk; branches that have too sharp an angle; compromised branches; too long branches (vertical). Ideal prune should leave open sun space for low-angle branches to grow horizontal off the main trunk. Will look overdone, but that is correct pruning (harralson looked great, even with the broken branches). The bud points in the direction new growth will go. Cut about 1/8-1/4 inch above the bud.

Also, fertilize once a month with miracle grow over the mulch March April June July, about 1-2 gallon worth per tree. Or put osmocoat down under the mulch (4 handfuls worth per tree). Said to water once a week. Pull off 2/3 buds in 2nd year also. Especially pick apples furthest out on the limb.