Old apple tree branch rotting out

Asked September 5, 2019, 3:49 PM EDT

I moved into my house 10 years ago and it had an established apple tree in the back yard. It makes great applesauce and cider. But, one of the biggest branches is rotting out. I've braced it with some serious straps to prevent it from tearing apart the stump if it breaks off, but is there anything I can do to save the branch?

This year, it also has had a few branches just up and die on me. The only sign of damage is the bark pealing back to show black wood beneath. It might be unrelated. I planned on trimming the dead branches off this February.

Eddy County North Dakota

1 Response

Good afternoon,

I think you're doing about the best you can do, given the situation. Once a branch or stem has started to rot, there's really not much we can do, and this one is pretty far along. You can either support it with a strap, like you've done, or build some kind of support underneath the rotting branch. Either one should work okay.

Regarding branches that just up-and-died, it could be any number of causes, though the most likely are black rot canker (a fungal problem) or fireblight (a bacterial problem). Pruning out the dead branches in the dormant season, as you're planning to do, is the best management approach.

Best wishes with your tree. Looks like a great crop of apples this year!