What is going on with our Liberty apple tree? & another apple tree, too?

Asked June 25, 2018, 6:17 PM EDT

Since this are of our school yard has no soil, we built large wooden planters for our fruit trees. We purchased a Liberty Apple because it produces a nice apple and has very good disease resistance. It is planted in our PK Garden and we need trees that can thrive without sprays. It bloomed abundantly this spring. But now it has curled leaves and what appears to be fire blight. What is this and what should we do? Also, another apple tree (I don't know what variety, has yellow spots on all of its leaves. Its apples las year were rather tasteless. It is in a somewhat shady spot, but gets a good 8 or more hours of sun. What is causing the yellow spots? & what is a remedy? Many thanks!!!

District of Columbia County District of Columbia

2 Responses

Honestly, it is very difficult to grow apple trees without spraying even ones that are disease resistant. Especially when we experience rainy periods when these diseases are active.
You are correct the tree does have fireblight. This can be managed with pruning. Please see the following information from our website,

The tree also has rust, a common fungal disease of apples. They are prevalent in our area, especially in wet years.
It is not curable, and prevention would have consisted of a regular spray schedule of fungicidal applications earlier in the year.
There is more about Apple Rust Diseases and other problems on this page:
Also look at the spray information from VA Tech http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/456/456-018/456-018%2003%20Home%20Fruit.pdf
We understand that you cannot spray so a minimum rake up and dispose of any fallen leaves.

Thank you so much!

Very helpful to know how to prune fireblight with the ugly stub pruning method. Thank you very much!

As far as the other apple with rust, we can't control the weather. But we can keep the area under the tree cleaned up.

I have also noticed that the fruit on our service berries look like they have sprouted thick orange hair and are having a very bad hair day, another case of wet weather making it easier for rusts to move in. It is hard to grow fruit , esp. without spraying.