Hi. This is Sherry Frick, Allegany Master Gardener Coordinator. I have a...

Asked November 24, 2014, 4:07 PM EST

Hi. This is Sherry Frick, Allegany Master Gardener Coordinator. I have a client who came in and asked why all the apples on his one apple tree fall off when they are very small. He says the tree is 10 or 11 years old and he has not gotten much ( maybe a few) if any fruit off it for the last 8 years. The tree a full sized red delicious grafted onto a semi dwarf rootstock. He does not fertilize. He sprays the tree twice with Bonide tree fruit spray twice a season. Once at pink bud and once at petal fall. The tree is in full sun and is pruned every year by someone who has experience pruning. He brought in some dried up leaves which were spotty. He said that the tree did not drop these leaves early. He also said that the tree has buds on it now. Do you have any idea what may be causing this or do you have any suggestions of what other questions I could ask him to try and get to the cause of this problem? Attached is a photo of the leaves he brought in. Thanks for your time.

Allegany County Maryland

1 Response

If this is a single tree, it could be having problems from a lack of pollinator.

Beyond that, it is almost impossible to grow apples in this area without a more extensive spray schedule. Both coddling moth and plum curculio will cause extensive fruit drop, and they are common pests. Look through eb125: Home Fruit Production Guide. It has the spray schedule, but it also has good write-ups on those two pests, including non-chemical solutions.

Fruit tree also require fertilization. (p. 22) He should get a soil test done, if he has not done that in the past 3-4 years.