New owner of neglected and abused apple orchard
I have recently unknowingly bought a home that has a small apple orchard. Unfortunately the trees have been neglecting and pruned terribly. There are 10 trees planted close together on a hill. They are several years old and very mature (most above 20 ft). Several are leaning or growing horizontal. They have been pruned to have no branches above head height. Most look like twisted lollipops or have the structure of a palm tree. It makes it difficult to pick or care for. Half of the trees a very productive and all trees have scabs. Help!!!! Do I start over? Graft? Slowly prune down the trees over years? Fyi I have no orchard experience.
Ottawa County Michigan
In the long run it would be best to start over from scratch. This way you can do a bit of studying about tree training and how to select the varieties and rootstock appropriate to your site and tastes. You can find a lot of info on line. I have assembled some items at WilliamShane@weebly.com In particular look at the “Planting and early care” section and the section on “apples” for several useful articles / presentations.