2nd, apples. Planted four apple trees in 2007. Honeycrisp, Jon-A-Reds,...

Asked July 18, 2013, 2:11 PM EDT

2nd, apples. Planted four apple trees in 2007. Honeycrisp, Jon-A-Reds, Ultra max, and red delicious. This is the first year they have "fruited", with exception of the ultra max and red delicious. Trees are pruned as needed , watered as needed and a small amount of food once a years. Trees have grown very well.
It has been 6 years since planting and don't I seem to be getting the fruit I expected 2 years ago. What am I missing?

Barry County Michigan apples

5 Responses

It wouls be helpful to know the rootstock these trees are grafted on. That can make a huge difference to flowering time from planting.
Dwarf rootstocks require only a year or two from planing before first fruits start to set. semi-dwarf rootstocks require about 6 to 8 years for the first fruits and about 10 years til full potential. Standard rootstocks can take well over 10 years to get first fruits.
Also, some information about your site woudl be important. Apple flowers can be damaged by winter cold and not form at all. If it does flower but sets no fruit, it coudl be spring frosts or lack of pollination/fertilazation. Do these trees flower at all?

Trees were purchased from Starks Nursery. Root stock not listed. Site located on gently slopping (to the west) hill so frost rolls down hill. Soil is loam/clay. Hole was excavated oversized and fill with compost rich loam.
All trees planted with pollinator adjacent. Two have not flowered. Other two have flowered and are producing. All trees are dwarf stock.

If they have now flowered, that lends me to believe they are still growing in a vegetative state and have not created reproductive structures (flowers) or flowers are being injured by winter cold. Too much nitrogen often leads to this. If shoots are growing more than 18 to 24 inches in a season, you are over feeding. If it's less, then it's just a matter of time for the tree to "settle down" to start initiating flower buds.

Perhaps your first sentence says it all but then explain why two of the four are flowering and producing. With the exception of fo years ago, springs have been fairly mild. As for the growth I would consider it to be average.
I don't have a lot of time for the trees to "settle down" . I'm over 70.. Anything I can do to accelerate the settling process?

Wothout knowing the exact rootstock, I cannot rule out that they are still in a vegetative state. My experience it that a "dwarf" tree does not mean the same thing in the backyard orchard nursery supply world. A tree on an M9 rootstock will grow about 10 to 12 feet tall and start flowering and producing fruit the next year after planting. To me that's a true dwarf rootstock. There are many rootstocks that get lumped into the category "dwarf" however. A tree on an M111 rootstock will grow to 18 to 22 feet or so and not start flowering or setting fruit until it's 6 or 8 years old. So, without really knowing the rootstock, I just can't say what's exactly going on with these trees. You could have easily received trees on various rootstocks and that might explain the difference you are seeing.
You could try scoring the trunks or root pruning to try to initiatie flower bud formation. That needs to be done during the normal bloom period to have any effect - so in May sometime. In the meantime, stop fertilizing and water only in drought situations and that might help some. Flower bud initiation for 2014 took place in late May and June this spring already for next year, so there's not much to do until that time in 2014.