Winterkill Apple Trees

Asked July 8, 2019, 1:41 PM EDT

I planted several dozen apple trees on our land in northern Mn (Grand Rapids area) and experienced a devestating winter kill this spring. I had to pull 21 of the 36 trees out and replace them. Most were Frostbite and Snowsweet which are suppose to be rated for zone 3. They were bare root planted last spring as 6 footers. I painted the trunks with white latex to prevent spring sunscald. I also wire fence each tree and use trunk tubes to prevent rodent damage. Brands that survived included some varieties of crab and some Mackintosh). I replanted with similar types including Haralson and Toka Plums (zone 3 rated) and have 54 in my Orchard now. We also kill the weeds inside the tree baskets (10' diameter). I was told not to fertilize after July 1, water moderately over the summer and avoid planting in low areas. Any other advise for me that might help slow down the mortality rate, besides praying for moderate winter temps? Would you suggest maybe NOT doing some of the steps I've mentioned? Thanks for your time. Tim

Itasca County Minnesota

1 Response

You are doing everything you can, last winter was very hard. Another thing that impacts survival is where the trees were grown. They have a memory and trees raised in your climate will survive better than those started in a more southern location. Local plant material hasn’t had to cope with a harsh winter in years and many, many trees were seriously damaged or killed. Trees should be watered whenever the soil is dry to 2 inches and until the ground freezes in the fall. They especially need water if it is very hot and humidity is low. Sorry to here of th loss of trees, it must be heart breaking.